English, Karwacki Win 41st Harrisburg


HARRISBURG, PA-- Sunday, November 10th, the 2013 edition of the Harrisburg Marathon saw 857 runners cross the finish line on the City Island. The number to complete this year’s race was down from last November’s record setting count of 1,583. New York City’s own marathon, which was cancelled last year because of damage by Hurricane Sandy, was up and running this year. Most New Yorkers and a number of runners from New Jersey, stayed closer to home in running at the “Big Apple” this year. In 2012 a whopping 548 from New York finished at Harrisburg (35% of field) along with 137 (9%) from the “Garden State.” This year the New York and New Jersey counts were back to the pre-Sandy years of around 3 – 5 %.

The 41st Harrisburg Marathon got started with Mother Nature’s cooperation for most of the day. The day started with partly cloudy conditions, very little wind, temps in the low forties, and creeping into the fifties later in the day. The breeze did pick up significantly during mid-race, just when most runners were making the turn for home at the Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), causing strong cross winds, and even a bit of a tail wind at times along the river on the way back to City Island.

Benjamin English, 29, Jackson Center, crossed the finish line in 2:44:16 to win the overall title. English had one other Harrisburg Marathon to his credit, a 2:59:01 effort in 2011, when he finished seventh overall and first in the 25 – 29 age group. English, not an avid runner during his high school and college days, fell in love with the sport after being hired in 2008 as the Grove City Area School District cross-country coach. Finishing in second place, less than three minutes behind the leader, was Jeremy Boehm, 29, Lemoyne, who had a time of 2:46:50. Coming in third was local transplant Zachary Koch, 28, Huntsville, AL, in a time of 2:48:18. Zach’s father, local running legend Kevin Koch, Newport, accompanied his son throughout the marathon riding a bike. Kevin, still an avid runner, compiled nine top ten finishes while completing eleven marathons (1983 – 2007) at Harrisburg, six of them under the 2:40 mark.


In the women’s race Kristen Karwacki, 34, Macungie, was first and 32nd overall with a time of 3:09:16. It was Karwacki’s first Harrisburg Marathon. Her last marathon was at Philadelphia in 2010, where she ran a 3:07:36. A runner’s bane the next few days after a marathon is negotiating steps of any kind, but not for Kristen. Her husband Jeff stated that “Kristen had no problem at all and she could jog down the steps the next day!” Jennifer Shurtz, 30, Oxford, came in second in 3:12:24 and Jenny Goransson, 30, Arlington, VA, was third in 3:14:24.

Women’s age-group winners: Ailsa Drelick, 44, Chafont (First Masters, 8th woman overall), 3:22:49; Claudine Godfrey, 18, Wrightsville (19 & Under), 4:52:13; Leah Maher, New Providence (20 – 24, 4th woman overall), 3:15:35; Alysha Rodriguez, York (25 – 29, 7th woman overall), 3:21:42; Amanda Estep, Bellefonte (30 – 34, 5th woman overall), 3:16:44; Hayley Weyhe, State College (35 – 39, 10th woman overall), 3:24:19; Kathryn Koetje-Simin, State College (40 – 44), 3:27:37; Michelle Didion, Laporte, IN (45 - 49), 3:25:51; Moon Lee, Old Tappan, NJ (50 – 54), 3:43:08; Marie Bartoletti, Finleyville (55 – 59), 3:57:16; Joy Klinger, Duncannon (60 – 64), 5:17:28; Jo Digorio, 68, Bethel Park (65 & Over) 5:56:07.

Men’s age-group winners: Anthony Lee, Leavenworth, KS (First Masters, 5th overall), 2:58:26; Alexander Lopez, North Babylon, NY (19 & Under), 3:43:28; William Gordon, Harrisburg (20 – 24, 4th overall), 2:50:36; Jonathan Lantz, East Earl, TN (25 – 29), 2:59:59; Benjamin Rapoport, New York, NY (30 – 34, 9th overall), 2:59:16; Josh Beck, Carlisle (35 – 39, 8th overall), 2:59:08; Sean Conklin, Port Allegany (40 – 44, 7th overall), 2:59:05; John Weaver, Towson, MD (45 – 49), 3:07:41; Christopher Dardis, Camp Hill (50 – 54, 6th overall), 2:58:43; Jeffrey Brandt, Danville (55 – 59), 3:12:52; Neil Policelli, Bangor (60 – 64), 3:35:42; David Howey, Etters (65 & Over), 3:44:12.


The main field of runners started a half hour earlier this year at 8:00am, and an early group of walkers/joggers started at 6:30am. First overall among the 64 walker/joggers to finish was Gary Zeigler, 46, Somerset, with 5:05:45, and the first female was Doreen McCall, 46, Harrisburg, at 5:12:05. The Palmyra XC team, finishing in a time of 2:47:56, was the first of 92 relay teams, beaten to the line by only two marathon runners, was comprised of Calvin Conrad-Kline, Dale Lingle, Max, Perry, and Jason Robinson.

Keith Moore, 40, Mohrsville, 5:19:55, who finished 739th overall, has the distinction of being the 20,000th person to ever complete the Harrisburg Marathon. The 41 year count now stands at 20,118. Yeah I know, all the biggie marathons, New York, Chicago, Boston, etc. all have more than that in one day, but is bigger really better? One thing for sure, second year Race Director Andy Wahila, has made the Harrisburg Marathon a quality race that is, if not bigger, better than most. Wahila and his quality team of over a hundred volunteers put on a well run marathon from start to finish. Wahila credits the volunteers, medical personnel, local police, sponsors, and spectators with helping make the Harrisburg Marathon a huge success. “This is truly a community event and would not be possible without everyone’s help,” he said. This year marked the first time that the marathon had bands and cheerleaders on the course. Two bands, The Colin McCann Band and Jimmy the Whale, were at various locations along the marathon route. Additionally, the West Shore Shock Cheerleaders were on hand along the course encouraging the runners. “The cheerleaders and both bands did a great job, and we received a lot of positive feedback from the runners. I hope to have five bands on the course next year,” said Wahila.

Marathonpacing.com and their great team of Pacers were on hand for the second year to help runners achieve their marathon goals. The pace groups, for those with goals from anywhere from three to five hours, were broken into increments of fifteen minutes, with a head Pacer leading each group. Another special group, Athletes Serving Athletes, was also back again this year, pushing their wheelchair bound athletes to the finish line.

On hand to cheer on the participants was course record holder Rick Blood, Summerdale, PA, who set the record of 2:21:38 in 1981 at the age of 23. Caroll Myers, East Berlin, PA, set the course record for women in 1984 with a time of 2:44:00 at the age of 27.

Many repeat Harrisburg Marathon finishers were evident. Park Barner, 69, Harrisburg, PA, and Mike Ranck, 62, Deer Lake, PA, have finished all 41 Harrisburg Marathons. Hap Miller, 70, Carlisle, PA, completed his 39th. Dwight Edris, 67, Leesport, PA, completed his 33rd. Nick Marshall, 65, Camp Hill, completed his 24th. Donald Halke II, 54, Newport, PA, finished his 20th. Dale Jordan, 59, Baldwin, MD, 19th. Alan Sommerville, 65, Halifax, PA, 17th. Elliot Collins, 61, Raritan, NJ, 15th. Stephen Housenick, 45, and Steve Whittle, 62, Hummelstown, PA, finished their 13th. Jennifer Cadenhead, 35, Harrisburg, PA, finished her 11th marathon at Harrisburg. Barry Goldmeier, 49, Rockville, MD, completed his 6th Harrisburg Marathon while juggling five beanbags the whole way, just as he had in the previous five. Ruth Liebowitz, 71, Staten Island, NY, 6:06:29, completed her 9th marathon at Harrisburg and is the oldest woman to ever finish the Harrisburg Marathon. Joe Brockway, 80, Quakertown, 7:44:45, became only the fourth octogenarian to ever finish at Harrisburg. Runners from four countries and 36 states participated in the 2013 Harrisburg Marathon, including a number from the Washington, D.C. area.

Another special moment, during this year’s race, was watching Donna Mummert, Carlisle, finishing her fifth Harrisburg Marathon with a little help from a friend. Mummert, wheelchair bound for the past year or so, was pushed by Josh Beck, also of Carlisle, finishing in eighth place with a time of 02:59:16. Mummert, 54, an accomplished athlete for years, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease in May. Beck, 35, a long time friend and coach of Mummert, also completed his fifth Harrisburg Marathon, all top ten finishes, including winning the race in 2007 with a time of 2:37:28. Mummert, a runner and triathlete, competed in many races over the years, including distances beyond the marathon’s twenty-six miles. She said that she preferred the long trail runs. The Bull Run Fifty Mile Trail Run in Virginia was one of her favorites that she ran in 2008 in just over eleven hours. Beck, a world class athlete, has participated in countless races and triathlons, including the Ironman World Championships in October, maintained an amazing 6:50 per mile pace while pushing Mummert. “I just think it was cool to be the legs to a special lady for three hours,” Beck said. Donna set a new smiling record this year at Harrisburg, grinning for all 26.22 miles, with just a little help from her friend Josh.

Coming in 857th to close down the finish line on the City Island was Susan Palermo, 59, West Orange, NJ, stopping the clock at 8:03:57.

Don’t get lost in the crowd in 2014, run the 42nd Annual Harrisburg Marathon on November 9.

Marathon web site: http://www.harrisburgmarathon.com.

Overall, age group, walkers, and team results: http://www.parunners.com.


Note: all times used in this article are gun times.