Surprised New Yorker Wins Harrisburg Marathon
HARRISBURG, PA-- Trailing the lead runner by at least a half mile through 20 miles, at the Harrisburg Marathon held November 8, George Shurter, 44, from Middletown, NY, said that he didn't know he was the overall winner until he crossed the finish line. That's because, up ahead there were a couple of relay runners and the 1997 winner, Mike Bressi, who was setting a hot pace through 20 miles. Shurter's winning time was 2:46:03, about six-and-a-half minutes ahead of Kevin Pazaski, 36, from Issaquah, WA, who finished second with 2:52:34. Larry Waite, 35, from Kerhonkson, NY, finished a close third among 265 finishers in 2:53:16.
Shurter's winning time was eleven minutes slower than Bressi's winning time of 2:35:04. Shurter eventually passed Bressi in the 23rd mile, and continued to follow the two relay runners, who were still ahead, to the finish line. Bressi, 44, from Palmyra, was forced to slow down over the last six miles because of leg cramps, but still managed to finish with an impressive 2:57:59, seventh overall.
Unlike the men's race, Pennsylvania women took the top three places. Mimi Newcomer, 40, from Lancaster, led all the women and finished 19th overall in 3:07:36, followed by Melissa Pearce, 23, from Scranton with 3:12:25. Third place went to the 1997 female winner, Caroll Myers, 42, from East Berlin, with a time of 3:19:18. Myers has won the women's division ten times.
The four-person relay event, which was initiated in 1997, continued to grow in numbers, as this year's event had 14 teams compared to 11 in 1997. This year, the relay runners were identified with red numbers on the front and relay signs pinned on the back. John Hargreaves, from Harrisburg, ran the anchor leg for the winning men's team, SCRAM, and reached the finish line in 2:43:29, nearly two minutes ahead of Calvin Williams, of New Cumberland, who anchored the second place men's team from WTPA Rock Radio, and finished with 2:45:11. Lisa Stokes, from Mechanicsburg, led the first mixed team across the finish line in 3:04:05, and Melissa Stokes led the first women's team to the finish line in 3:47:07.
The year's winner, George Shurter of New York, commented after the race, that he was looking for a "nice smaller marathon." Over the years, the Harrisburg Marathon has been known as a well organized, smaller marathon with a mostly flat and scenic USATF-certified course, all of which are conducive to running personal bests and qualifying for the Boston Marathon. This year there were 42 first-time marathoners finishing the marathon. Based on data provided by most of the runners, at least 50 finishers ran their personal bests in this year's marathon. Perhaps more important, several of these runners qualified for the Boston Marathon at the same time. In addition to plaques for open and age group winners, all runners received a finisher's medal and certificate.
HEALTHSOUTH Rehab Center of Mechanicsburg continued as a major sponsor for the third year in a row. This year, ALLTEL, formerly 360 Communications, was a co-sponsor and donated cellular phones for communications along the course in addition to their financial support. Other sponsors and major contributors included PinnacleHealth System, Ambassador Home Improvements, Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, Cloister Spring Water Co., Mrs. T's Pierogies. The River 97.3 Radio, The Inside Track store, Nantucket Allserve, Applebee's and Eat 'n Park Restaurants, Quaker Oats Beverages for Gatorade, Giant Foods, and the Harrisburg Area YMCA.
Photo Credits - Karen Mitchell, Clay Shaw
1. SCRAM (M) 2:43:29
1. George Shurter 2:46:03
1. Mimi Newcomer 3:07:36