By Bill Bull
BERWICK, PA, NOVEMBER 22, 2018—“Except for the Boston and Olympic marathons, there is no race that I would rather win than Berwick,” said Johnny Kelley, Arlington, MA. Kelley did win the race, not once, but four consecutive years 1942 through 1945. His streak is the third longest in Berwick history. In 2018, Matt Gillette, Orefield, PA equaled it!
“The cold and the wind going up the mountain was the most brutal it’s been,” said Gillette. “We had a strong head wind going up the whole time. I went out the first two miles a little fast. I still pushed through and got down the other side and the wind was still in my face. That was a little strange going up and down, but as always it was helpful to have everyone out there cheering you on,” continued Gillette. Gillette’s time was 46:06; his slowest and the slowest winning time since 2007.
Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.” For the third year in a row Trevor Vanackeren, Bethlehem, PA, finished second to Gillette. The past two years, Gillette pulled away from Vanackeren on the hill. It was time for Vanackeren to change his strategy. Instead of letting Gillette set the pace, Vanackeren went out hard. He took an early lead of about twenty meters by the half-mile mark; hoping to take some leg hill strength out of Gillette. It was a solid strategy, but Gillette would have none of it. Gillette caught Vanackeren by the mile and was pulling away by the two-mile mark, just before the hill. It was all Gillette from there to the finish. Gillette appeared to be cruising, but he did the last four miles in 19:25!
Vanackeren withstood challenges from Kieran Sutton, Shavertown, PA and Chris McCabe, Carlisle, PA to hold onto second place. Matthew Lutoza, Royersford, PA, Alex Price, Bethlehem, PA, and Tanner Cook, Johnson City, TN, rounded out the top seven diamond-ring winners.
“I just enjoy the race so much,” said Gillette. “The consistency of being in the top every year. I just hope to keep that up. The competitiveness. I’ve got friends doing this every year. It is just a great Thanksgiving Day tradition. I plan on being back next year.”
Katie Sick of nearby Millville, PA finished ninth a year ago. She found herself in the lead through the first grueling five miles of the race. But, Berwick is two races for the price of one. Berwick is a five-mile strength race (most of the uphill) followed by a four-mile speed race (most of the downhill). If a track runner can maintain contact throughout the first five miles, the race can be theirs for the taking in the final four. That is exactly what Zoe Matherne, Carlisle, PA, did. Matherne took the lead in the scorching sixth mile. “I was not expecting to win based on the last couple of years’ results, “said Matherne. “Up until about six months ago I was an 800- meter runner, so this was the longest race I’ve ever done by a lot. I just wanted to come out and have a good effort.” That she did. “I wanted a top-seven diamond. I’m really surprised I won!”
Katie Sick held on narrowly for second place with a fast charging Christy Peterson, N Wales, PA finishing a second later. Hannah Coffin, Birmingham, AL, 2011 winner Katie O’Regan, Lititz, PA, Jenny Yonick, Camp Hill, PA and Lori Kingsley, Wysox, PA rounded out the tops seven diamond pendent winners.
The Local Men’s Race
With four-time winner Dylan Gearinger, out with a stress fracture, the local race was thrown wide open. A battle of the second and third locals from last year looked to be very intriguing. It was not to be. Mason Kimbell, second last year, running for Salisbury State, was in the field, but third place local, Mitch Martin, East Carolina U was pulled by his coach. Without anyone pushing him, Kimbell easily cruised to the local title. His time of 54:01 was his slowest in several years and the slowest winning local time since 1969. Griffin Keller, Berwick HS Cross Country team’s top runner this year improved his time from last year while finishing second in a time 57:03.
The Local Women’s Race
Samantha Dyer, a Sophomore at Seton Hall, was the favorite going in. She had beaten Wendy Lupashunski-Dailey and Alex Bull in close races the past two years. The two local record holders had other ideas. Dyer and Bull ran together for over two miles. But Bull pulled away during the early part of the hill. Lup-Daily soon followed. Bull continued her strong race; finishing tenth overall. Her winning time was 61:49, a full two minutes ahead of Lup-Dailey. This was Bull’s fifth local title placing her second all-time to Lup-Dailey’s eleven titles. Bull had added incentive this year. This was Bull’s last year of local eligibility. She is graduating from grad school at Monash U, Melbourne, Australia, and will not be a full-time student; thereby making her ineligible next year.
Marathon week began with the 60th annual Heller Memorial Market St Races. There were 263 total finishers in nine kid’s races.
Bill Reifsnyder, the 1985 Berwick winner, was the guest speaker at the pasta dinner the night before the race. Bill offered many insights into training and his career as a professional runner.
The temperature at race time was a very cold 15 degrees with a wind chill in the single digits. The sun was out and the course was dry.
There were 1091 finishers in race; of which 452 were women.
If Matt Gillette can come back next year and get his fifth first place diamond ring (one for the thumb) he will join Canadian Robert Scotty Rankine with that amount. Only Browning Ross with seven in row/ten overall would have more.
The Canadian connection continued with six finishing this year; many others made the trip to visit.
The Berwick Marathon 35-plus Club has three new members; Bob Doherty, Frank McDonald, and Carmella DiPippa who became the first female to qualify for the group.
Chris Aurand moved ahead of his high school coach, Lanny Conner, with his 46th finish. Only Canadian Whitey Sheridan has more.
The Berwick Marathon Association would like to thank all the runners who entered the race this year. Also thanks go out to the many volunteers and sponsors. Special thanks to Berwick Borough and Briar Creek Township whose support is invaluable to the race. And lastly, thanks to the many fans who come out year after year to support the race and the runners.