BY JAY PURDY
GETTYSBURG, PA--The word "challenge" in the title of the inaugural Monument Challenge, held April 15, doesn't just pertain to raising money to save the Pennsylvania monuments on the Adams County battlefield--the run itself is a stern test.
The 5K course on Hanover Road, just outside the famous Pennsylvania crossroads, featured a long uphill stretch that broke only a few hundred yards from the finish line.
"It felt like there was rarely a time when I was running on level ground," said Lesley Smith of Newberry Township, York County.
First to finish the men's run was Richard Keplinger of Shepardstown, WV, with a time of 19:48. The first woman was Cyndie Winkelmann of Gettysburg, in 23:53.
State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, founder of the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monument Project, which hatched the Monument Challenge idea, along with the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, amazed everyone by completing the run and apparently doing it without sneaking through any shortcuts. His time was 42:55--not bad for the 59-year-old former Marine sergeant who claims the last time he ran any kind of distance was in basic training.
Other prominent participants were state Senator Jeffrey Piccola, who finished second in the men's age 50-54 division with a time of 31:33, not far ahead of Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Paul Evanko, who came in at 33:22. Dauphin County Commissioner John Payne, with a time of 37:43, captured first in the men's age 45-49 speedwalking division.
In all, more than 200 people took part in the 5K run and walk and the separate one-mile fun run/walk. The fun run/walk was led by General George Gordon Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, in the person of re-enactor Andy Waskie of Philadelphia, who appropriately sported the race registration number "1863," the year Battle of Gettysburg took place.
The Monument Challenge raised approximately $27,000 that will be used in the preservation of the Pennsylvania monuments. The success has prompted Readshaw to declare it will become an annual event. Next year's date has already been set for April 21, 2001.
The event would not have been possible without the help and expert advice of the Harrisburg Roadrunners Club, according to Monument Challenge coordinator Kathi Schue.
"It was a load of work but it was even more fun than we expected," said Schue. "We've already gotten overtures from corporations about increasing their sponsorship next year."
1. Richard Keplinger 19:48
1. Cyndie Winkelmann 23:53