Kerr Learns from Past Mistakes, Claims First
BY MARGARET LIVSEY AND BILL BULL
BERWICK, PA--The 96th running of the famed Thanksgiving Day Berwick race was dedicated to the memory of Announcer Rick Heller. Heller had passed away since the last running of the race. He had been a fixture on the flat-bed, along with his family, for over fifty years. Reverend Reg Thomas conducted a short memorial prior to the race. Rick will be remembered as a great pioneer of the race; having seen it grow from under 100 runners to over 1,000.
Race morning was blustery and cold. Snow had fallen the night before. Many runners took refuge in the YMCA or the Elks to warm up. Despite the conditions, 1,077 registered for the event; including close to 200 on race day.
Strategy and knowledge of the 9-mile course are key ingredients for running well at Berwick. It is impossible to run even splits throughout the race. Start too fast and the mile-and-a-half hill will certainly hurt. Start too slow and there is no catching up in the fast second half. This was winner Matt Kerrs (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) second time in the race. Last year he was knocked out of first place on the hill. He was still able to hold on for a very respectable fourth place finish. A slower start, following the pack up the hill, and a killer pace the last four miles earned the victory this year. His winning time of 45:13 was the fastest time since 1999. Ed Schlichter moved up one spot from 2004 to finish second. Matt Byrne moved up two spots from 2004 to finish third.
Last years winner and Berwick native Becki McClintock is doing volunteer work in Cambodia and putting her running career on hold. This threw the race wide open. Four runners battled most of the way and finished in less than a minute of each other. Veteran Berwick runner Heidi Wolfsberger of Moosic felt strong the whole way and was able to hold off challenges by former winner Lisa Haas, who finished third, and finally by second place finisher Vickie Cauller. Cauller actually passed Wolfsberger around the seven-mile mark, but had to give up the lead at mile eight. Vickie took over the lead at about mile seven. However, after we passed the eight-mile marker, I knew that I had less than a mile to go. So I gave it another push and pulled in front and just held on, said Wolfsberger.
Twenty-two diamonds were won in the race. The top seven male and female finishers received diamond rings and diamond pendants, respectively. Also, Masters winners Greg Cauller and Lynda Debber, Veteran winners Terry Permar and Dianna Golden, and Senior winners World Record holder Ed Whitlock and Joan Miller received diamond awards. Local winners Tony Lawson and Christa Johnson also won diamonds.
Tony Lawson won his seventh title in a row, his eighth overall. Tony easily outdistanced his competition by over five minutes! Christa Johnson won her second title in a row. Local Masters Doug Alter had a big breakout race and bested eleven-time champion Bill Bull. First Local female Masters was Sandra Stauffer-Vought.
The Berwick Marathon Association would like to thank the many sponsors of the race and the volunteers and fans that help make this race the Thanksgiving tradition that it is!
Huge Turnout for 47th Annual Schoolboy 5K
BY MARGARET LIVSEY AND BILL BULL
BERWICK, PA--The C. Wilfred Heller Memorial Race, also known as the 47th Annual Schoolboy 5K, was held on Saturday, November 19. This race was first run way back in 1959 to go along with the 50th running of the Berwick Marathon (now named the Run for the Diamonds). It is named in memory of the race founder and first Berwick High School Cross-Country Coach, Bill Heller. Mr. Heller coached Berwick from its inaugural year, 1959, through 1969.
The first three runners ran together until the final half-mile. Nathan Roth kicked it in from there to gain the win. Roth became the first Berwick High School runner to win the race outright. Several years earlier another Berwick runner won the race, but this was due to the disqualification of the first five runners for going off-course. Kurt Leitzel of Sunbury was second and Bobby Micikas of Mountaintop finished third.
The top female finisher was Katie Sick, an 8th grader from Millville. Katie is obviously continuing the family tradition of her well-known parents, Scott and Ann Sick. Kirsten Schafer finished second and Alexandra Bull rounded out the top 3.
There were nine races conducted on the day, with 453 school age kids competing!