Toast New Year, Toast Competition
 
BY SHANNON HOFFMAN
 
BLOOMSBURG, PA--For most, confetti and champagne are essential for saying goodbye to a year and hello to the next. In Bloomsburg, there are some who ask for a little bit of sweat and lactic acid as well.
 
The Bloomsburg YMCA held its New Year’s Eve 5K on December 31st, one of their most popular annual fundraisers. With 265 runners crossing the finish line, 2007’s event surpassed the previous year’s in attendance. “It’s a great thing to end a year and begin a new year,” says race and YMCA program director, Chris Grassley.
 
Winning the race was Garth Watson in a time of 15:55. Watson is a runner for Canton Area High School, and this is his second year in a row to win. He finished ahead of second place finisher Kip Hoffman, who crossed the line in 16:16. Taking the lead from the start was Jenn Valentine, and she never gave up that spot finishing in 19:27, which was 39 seconds ahead of the rest of the women’s pack.
 
Runners had to face treacherous conditions, as there were several icy spots throughout the winding course. The Bloomsburg Fairground, which takes up almost a mile of the course, was especially slippery. Grassley says he knows of very few falls and no serious injuries during the race. However, the average times for the top ten men and women were about 25 seconds slower for both fields, as compared to the same averages from the 2006 race.
 
To combat the conditions, the Fairground was salted about a half-hour before the gun went off, and Grassley says that they drove over the course several times throughout the day hoping to prevent it from freezing. It was an evening race, however, and once the sun went down there wasn’t much else that could be done.
 
Marshalling the course were Marines, who use the YMCA facility for training and offered to volunteer at the race in return. Not only did they warn racers of upcoming ice spots, but they also helped shovel snow off the course.
 
Besides the Marines, the largest volunteer group at the race was the Bloomsburg wrestling team. There were several sponsors for the event, but the two largest were Geisinger Medical Center and 903 WHLM, Bloomsburg’s AM radio station. Grassley sends a thank you to all of the race sponsors and volunteers.
 
“It was a great year for us. Despite the conditions it really went well,” says Grassley. In past years, Grassley admits that there have been some scoring issues, but they were corrected this year, and the committee plans on continuing to build the event, such as by having a clock at the end of the race.
 
Through its six years in existence, the New Year’s Eve race has become a routine for many locals, and Grassley hopes others will be drawn to end the year right with a little bit of sweat. “We hope to make it a tradition for many across northeastern PA,” he says.
 
1. Garth Watson 15:55
2. Kip Hoffman 16:16
3. Mark Cordero 17:32
4. Curtis Woodard 17:35
5. Steve Templin 17:49
6. Dan Kirk 18:10
7. Al Fox 18:28
8. Bob Welby 18:32
9. Jacob Shedden 19:24
10. Jenn Valentine 19:27
11. Curt Markley 19:47
12. Shannon Hoffman 20:06
13. Ralph Reed 20:12
14. Casey Hess 20:21
15. Karen Hause. 20:27
16. Tony Mattucci 20:28
17. John Zawabski 20:29
18. Timothy Fizgerald 20:31
19. James Keupa 20:39
20. Bill Burd20:44
21. Eric Kaczmarczyk .20:45
22. Miranda Hildebrand 20:47
23. Herb Kline .20:50
24. Justin Ondrey 20:51
25. Wesley Hack 20:52