Gillette, Orrson Sparkle at 106th Diamonds


The Men’s Race

BERWICK, PA--The weather conditions for the 106th edition of the Berwick Run For the Diamonds were perfect. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s greeted the 1500+ entrants on Thanksgiving Day, November 26. This was a far cry from the snow covered ground of 2014!

Matt Gillette, Shippensburg ,PA, had finished second in both 2013 and 2014. He wasted little time in letting the rest of the field know his intentions! He went to the front of the pack right off Dick Rimple’s gun. Within the second mile, Gillette was beginning to pull away. Running up the hill during the third mile, like so many previous winners, Gillette made his decisive move. He never looked back.

Gillette’s lead increased with each mile. Gillette was in the zone; feeding off his own adrenaline and the crowds along the course. “I think it’s just history, a lot of good guys have run this race. I wanted to be a part of the history. I really enjoy running here. It’s a great tradition. I just really wanted to win, especially after coming in second for two years,” said Gillette.

Christian Thompson, Winston Salem, NC, finished second. Trevor Vanackeren, Bethlehem, PA, improved one spot from his fourth place in 2014 to third this year. Kieran Sutton, Shavertown, PA, Andy Weaver, Baltimore, MD, two time winner, C Fred Joslyn, Mt Holly Springs, PA and Chris Mullin, Phoenixville, PA, rounded out the top seven diamond winners.


The Women’s Race

Marina Orrson, Shavertown, PA, has made a steady progression (with just one bump) up the leader board in the Run For the Diamonds. Her first Diamonds was 2009 in which she finished 31st female. Since then her finishes include 22nd, 8th, 11th, 4th, and last year 2nd. She could only improve one more place, but what a tough place to get. But get it she did! Marina flew around the course to win by over two minutes. “I’ve been running the Diamonds since junior high. My mom always talked about running it when she was younger. For me, it means a lot because it’s a family tradition,” said Orrson. She continued about the course. “You learn that the first half is just so slow. But you’re going to make it up in the second half.” Following Orrson was Samantha Snukis, Stowe, PA, improving nicely over her eighth place finish a year ago. The 2011 winner, Katie O’Regan, Lititz, PA, finished third for the second year in a row. Christina Faust, Macungie, PA, Christy Peterson, N Wales, PA, Brenda Hodge, York, PA, and Samantha Snead, Moscow, PA, rounded out the top seven diamond pendant winners.

Diamond Points

Marina Orrson, Lake Lehman, is the fourth runner having graduated from the local Wyoming Valley League to win the race. The other three include 1991 Molly Mitke (Crestwood), 2004 Becki McClintock (Berwick), and 2007 Maria Monks (Hazleton).

Over twenty Canadians made the trip to Berwick this year. Jose Fuentes, Hamilton, Ontario, continued a long tradition of Canadian diamond-ring winners. Fuentes won the Veteran male diamond ring. Rick Hellard, Dave Yaeger, and Chris Jermyn also took home awards. Several Canadians, including 1975 winner, Rob Legge, and senior phemom, Ed Whitlock, did not run but came to renew old friendships.

Dylan Gearinger successfully defended his local title of 2014. Dylan, now a Freshman at Haverford College, ran a fine time of 50:43; good for 18th place overall. Dylan’s former Berwick HS teammates, Mason Kimbell, Bao Le, Ty Fisher and Harrison Ferro rounded out the Top Five locals. They were also able to snag the third place team trophy while running for the Berwick Ramblers.

Wendy Lupashunski, the local female with the most wins, returned to the top spot after a four-year absence. Wendy ran a strong race from the start finishing 14th overall in a time of 61:25. This was Wendy’s eleventh local title. Four time-winner Alex Bull, Abby Bull, Samantha Dyer, and Brittany Shaughnessy rounded out the top five female locals. The Berwick Ramblers were able to win theTeam Championship.

Nationally known author, Dave Rauschenberg, Portland, Oregon, delivered an uplifting and humorous talk at the Pasta Dinner the night before the race. Dave has written three running/life books and is in the process of writing a fourth.


While no new records were set this year, here is look at standing records:

Overall: male Pete Pfitzinger, 43:21, 1980 and female Karaleigh Foster, 50:33, 2014

19 & Younger: male Bill Reifsnyder, 45:48, 1979 and female Paige Stoner, 55:25, 2014

20-29: male Pete Pfitzinger, 43:21, 1980 and Karaleigh Foster, 50:33, 2014

30-39: male Greg Fredericks, 43:41, 1980 and Heidi Peoples, 53:52, 2010

40-49: male Ken Inglis, 45:46, 1982 and female Deborah Grossman, 53:38, 1996

50-59: male Johnny Kelley, 50:21, 1958 and female Ann Sick, 61:58, 2009

60-69: male Hubert Morgan, 55:06, 1984 and female Dianna Golden, 66:40, 2013

70 & over: male Ed Whitlock, 57:25, 2003 and female Joan Miller, 91:11, 2012


Movin’ on Up: 106th Run For the Diamonds


A certain car rental company once proclaimed in its advertisements: “We’re Number Two...We Try Harder!”

The 2015 “Run for the Diamonds” winners might concur, as Matt Gillette (1st, 45 minutes, 2 seconds) and Marina Orrson (53 minutes, 11 seconds) improved just one precious spot from the 2014 results to capture their first championships in Pennsylvania’s oldest footrace.

Berwick’s “Run for the Diamonds”--which will mark its 107th start in 2016--dates back to 1908. The Thanksgiving Day race sometimes attracted less than 20 runners in its earliest years, but typically draws more than 1,500 participants in recent decades.

Runners were greeted by almost unreal running conditions--mid-50s and the countryside and town roads awash in glorious sunshine--while negotiating the always-challenging, sometimes-staggering 9-mile course. Pleasant temps aside, the mile-plus ascent to the village of Summer Hill still seemingly required drawing oxygen all the way up from the very soles of one's racing flats.

For Gillette—former Parkland High School and Shippensburg University star--a powerful attack up the mountain helped him string out early challengers, such as Trevor VanAckeren (3rd, 46:23) and runner-up Christian Thompson of Winston Salem, NC, who clocked 45:52. By the halfway mark it was clear that--
barring a monumental collapse on his part--Gillette’s main challenge would be attempting to average sub-5 minute miles. In fact, he lengthened his lead through the rollercoaster miles of five, six, and seven.

Blasting down Market Street for the final mile, cheers of festive spectators zooming him on, Gillette later admitted: “I was trying to break 45 minutes!” He came up a mere two seconds shy, but a first place diamond more than made up for it. He was about 30 seconds faster than in 2014, when Nick Hilton won by a comfortable margin.

Rounding out the male diamond winners were Kieran Sutton (4th, 46:43), Andy Weaver (5th, 47:12), two-time champion C. Fred Joslyn (6th, 48:04) and Chris Mullin (7th, 48:26).

Jeremy Hoffman (40-plus winner, 52:01), Canadian runner Jose Fuentes (50-plus winner, 53:18) and the ever-feisty Terry Permar (60-plus, 58:27) also snagged diamonds for their outstanding age-group efforts.

Orrson, second a year ago to course-record setting Karaleigh Millhouse Foster (50 minutes, 33 seconds), hammered out a cushy lead early on en route to her victory of 53 minutes, 11 seconds. The former Misercordia University star has showed outstanding range in her racing, including a sub-5 road mile win back in the summer.

Samantha Snukis, who once did her best running over hurdles as a scholastic track star, made a huge jump (8th place in 2014) to snag second place honors in 55:39. Katie O’Regan, an ever-consistent diamond placer, took third in 56:19.

Former Emmaus High School standout Christina Faust (4th, 56:29), Masters winner Christy Peterson (57:05), Masters runner-up Brenda Hodge (57:38), and Samantha Snead (58:22) secured the 4th through 7th place diamond pendants in the women’s race.

Ann Sick (1:08.33) won the 50-plus diamond and Dianna Golden (1:09.42) the 60-plus diamond. Both women are highly recognizable names to Berwick buffs.

Local fans always pay attention to the first local finisher. Those honors went to Dylan Gearinger (50:43) for men and Wendy Lupashunski (1:01.22) for women. Gearinger now runs collegiately for Haverford College. Lupashunski’s local titles at Berwick are now well into the double digits!

A testimonial of sorts on just how tough the Berwick course is, came from Baltimore’s Andy Weaver, the fifth place finisher. Hands on his thighs after his finish, Weaver was over-heard to exclaim: “That course sucked!”

“What part didn’t you like?” an inquisitive journalist jibed.

“Everything after Mile One!” Weaver abruptly replied.

One assumes our visitor from Maryland would have liked it even less had he endured the cold, slick, and snowy conditions of 2014.