One Tick Pony; History at Berwick
BY MARK WILL-WEBER
As if to announce that the second century of racing at Berwick was going to be equally adventuresome when compared to the first 100 years, a little bit of history unfolded at the 102nd Run for the Diamonds.
No, it wasnt Pete Pfitzingers still-crazy-after-all-these-years course record (43:21 in 1980) being broken. That mark is still out there--hovering like some strange distant planet that someone seems to have seen only once--waiting for a true Olympian to revisit that elusive frontier. (But dont hold your breath the Stanley Cup finals might be hosted in Hell before Pfitzs course mark is eclipsed )
But would you settle for the tightest finish ever in the history of Pennsylvanias oldest footrace? When C. Fred Joslyn hammered down Market Street and nipped front-running Nick Hilton at the tape, the final results put the difference at one second--45:20 to 45:21--after 9-miles of racing (and a mile-plus uphill) on a splendidly sun-drenched Thanksgiving morning before large and festive crowds. In actuality, there was some rounding up involved and the difference was most probably a mere half-second. The space between the two runners was more than an elfs eyelash perhaps, but less than a reindeers nose. Any closer and NFL instant replay or the verdict of Solomon might have been required to settle it.
In fact, it was so close that the hard-charging Joslyn felt compelled to advance an apology to Hilton. While still attempting to catch his breath, Joslyn muttered: Sorry about the finish. Hilton, the former Lock Haven University star, showed great sportsmanship, with his reply of: No apologies. That was great!
As for Hilton, he may have been a half-ounce short of finish-line sprint fuel, but hes never lacking in determination. We are, after all, talking about a guy who last March ran 100 miles from Lock Haven to Harrisburg to protest Governor Tom Corbetts now infamous slash-and-burn tactics at the expense of higher education.
Joslyn, of course, was determined, too, as he came from behind to notch his second Berwick victory. The former SUNY Cortland standout first won at Berwick in 2006 in 45:51--but he had more than 200 meters of breathing space in that one. Coincidentally, Joslyn is on the record as saying that two of his life role models are Jesus Christ and Tom Carterthe latter being the man involved in Berwicks previous closest finish. Carter (who once set a course record of 44:16 at Berwick in 1976) nearly nailed a second Diamonds win in 1982 when he hammered home just two seconds shy of champ John Doub. Carter and Joslyn both hail from the Binghamton, N.Y. area and Carter (coach at Broome County Community College) has long been a mentor to up-and-coming runners in the Tri-City area. (The closest womens race at Berwick to date was the 1986 event when Kristin Karvelis, representing Allegheny Nike, clocked 55:25 and held off Lori Adams of Bethlehem by a mere two seconds.)
After the dynamic duo, Dickson Citys Kevin Borrelli (3rd, 47:07); Bobby Torphy (4th, 47:15) of North Carolina; Rob Ahrens (5th, 47:19) of Clarks Summit; Keith Kimmons (6th, 47:45) of Pittsburgh; and Aiden Galasso (7th, 48:01) of Suffern, NY rounded out the rest of the mens diamond winners. (Galasso is a student at the University of Delaware where bureaucrats recently dropped mens cross-country and track. Obviously, he has not let that dismal fact stop his love of racing.) Former Bloomsburg runner Mikhail Litvinov of nearby Drums put in a strong performance but was forced to settle for eighth place by a handful of seconds in 48:09.
The next five women to snag diamond pendants included: 2011 Steamtown Marathon runner-up Samantha Snead (3rd, 56:23) of Moscow, PA; Bethlehems Lauretta Dezubay (4th, 57:27); triathlon standout Jonna Trexler (5th, 57:41) of Emmaus in her Berwick debut; with Samantha Snukis (6th, 58:24) of St. Clair just a few ticks up on Ithaca, NYs Stephanie Lalos (7th, 58:29).
Age-group diamond winners for the men included: Sean Robbins of Shavertown (first over-40, 51:44); veteran road warrior and former Millersville star Greg Cauller (first over-50, 53:48); and Rick Platt--who journeyed all the way from Williamsburg, VAwho captured the 60-plus award in 1:01:21.
Age-group diamond winners for the women included: Amy Rome (first over 40, 1:02:44) of Dallas, PA; Lynda DeBoerwho upheld the Canadian tradition at Berwick this year by clinching the womens 50-plus in 1:04:25; and Barbara Zeske of Hanover Township, PA (first over 60, 1:21:53).
First finishers from the town of Berwick were Michael Lisnock Jr. (52:09) and Gettysburg College standout Alexandria Bull (1:01:40).
A few former Run for the Diamonds champions took part in the event, including the always free-spirited Tom Carter (who won in 1976) and Canadian runner Matt Kerr (who won in 2005).
Prior to the actual race, Berwick cross-country coach Bill Bull covered the famous nine-mile route. Recent health issues have prevented Bull from racing (he has 18 local victories and once blasted a PR of 46:59 which would have placed him third overall in this years event), but Bull rose to the occasion and finished the tough course on his own terms. It was fitting inspiration for the nearly 1,600 runners whom toed the line for this historic race that dates back to 1908.