BY APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- For Tina Bowen, 2010 has truly been a year of movement.
Just over a year after undergoing gastric bypass surgery, Bowen, 50, continues making important milestones. Most recently, those milestones included crossing the finish line at Saturday’s Millennium Mile road race, with her husband, Greg, cheering her on. She completed the race, her fourth since her surgery, in just over nine minutes.
This year’s Millennium Mile, a holiday tradition for many area residents, drew 1,115 runners and walkers, from the most seasoned champions to mothers pushing infants in strollers.
Londonderry’s first Millennium Mile race was held, fittingly enough, on Dec. 31, 1999, after event founder John Mortimer and a few friends, all runners, pondered a special way to ring in the new year.
Approximately 120 runners participated, making a mad dash from Londonderry High School toward Mack’s Apples.
This year, Mortimer, a Londonderry native, donated registration proceeds back to the respective Londonderry schools of every Londonderry student and teacher registering for the race.
Winning this year’s race, overall, was Hanover resident Brian Gagnon, 23, who completed the mile course in 3:54 minutes. Justin Fyffe, 31, of East Dummerston, Vt., placed second, while Derek Dutille, 23, of Lebanon, placed third.
Claudia Camargo-Ner, 39, of Hopewell Junction, N.J., was the top-placing female, completing the race in 4:32 minutes. Kara Haas, 40, of Chelmsford, Mass., placed second, while Jill Kerr, 33, of Newton, Mass., placed third.
Awards were also given to the top-placing men and women in age groups 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70-99.
For Bowen, her path to last Saturday’s event began last fall when she began participating in local road races, just nine months after undergoing weight-loss surgery at Dartmouth– Hitchcock Medical Center, and losing nearly 100 pounds.
“I began walking as I recovered from surgery,” Bowen said Saturday afternoon, shortly after completing the one-mile race. “But it soon got to the point where walking just wasn’t enough.”
Bowen celebrated her 50th birthday last July, and ran her first race, the Tanger Outlet Fit For Families 5K Run/Walk, on Sept. 25. She placed third for her age group.
“I was crying with joy, and no one knew why,” Bowen recalled.
These days, Bowen serves as an inspiration to others waging similar battles. Recently, the youthful blonde returned to Dartmouth-Hitchcock for her one-year post-surgical visit.
“They told me I’m their poster child,” Bowen beamed. “They’ve even asked me to come in and talk to other patients considering this surgery.”
For more information on this year’s race results, go to milleniummile.org.