Paxton Fest Celebrates 10th, Possibly Final Event

BY DARREL REINFORD

HARRISBURG, PA--The 10th Annual Paxton Fest Two-Mile Run took place on Saturday, September 25 with a field of over 140 runners and walkers. This race, with its somewhat unique distance, has continued to attract runners of all abilities over its ten-year history.

Last year’s winners were not in the field this year, but two of the top five men from last year did return to compete for the top spot. Mike Craighead ran a strong race to finish in 9:47 and become the first three-time Paxton Fest Run winner. Last year, Wendy Barrett became the first female winner to accomplish that feat. Finishing second for the men was Jason Gish in 9:55, with Larry Levy, Jesse Armer, and Steve Owens (last year’s 2nd place finisher) rounding out the top five.

On the female side, it was the newcomers who came out on top this year with Becki McClintock finishing first in 11:18, followed closely by Jessica Hawthorne in 11:21. Jill Starliper and Kim Engle, both faithful participants in the Paxton Fest Run, joined those two and Kelly Dworak in the top five.

A highlight of this year’s race was some tough competition among the men’s Masters runners. Bill Chambe was the clear Masters winner with a time of 10:41, but the next four Masters division runners also came in with strong times under 11:30.

As the Two-Mile Run celebrated its 10th year, Paxton Ministries gave special recognition to four individuals who have helped the run reach that landmark. At the top of the list was Steve Schwartz, race founder and director for the first six years. Also recognized were Henry Klugh of The Inside Track, Walt Greene from the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club, and Darrel Reinford, race director for the last four years.

This was the final year for Paxton Fest as it has been structured in recent years and it may have been the last year for the Two-Mile Run. But watch your race calendars next summer to see if the run resurfaces on a new date!

Race founder Steve Schwartz compiled a list of “20 Miles of Memories” to celebrate the run’s 10th anniversary. The following are some of those highlights:

Course Record Holders
Male: Gavin Gaynor, 9:14, 1997
Female: Misti Demko, 10:19, 2001

Most Faithful Participant
Chris Book, Paxton Ministries’ Executive Director, is the only runner to complete all ten races.

Most Competitive Field
1997--Top six males all finished in 10:00 or less.