LAUREL RUN — Unlike the automotive race that graces the Giants Despair every summer, this Hillclimb favored endurance over speed, willpower over horsepower, strategy over mechanics.
In other words, Wednesday's One Source Valley's Fastest Man Giants Despair 1 Mile Run is nothing like the race that made the Laurel Mountain hill famous.
Harding's Frank Redmond pushed on the final straightaway to come from behind to claim the second leg of the Valley's Fastest Man series. Scranton's Heidi Peoples won her second consecutive female overall race to push a commanding lead in the overall women's standings.
"I'll tell you: you get halfway up and you just feel pooped," Redmond said. "Plus, I was hurting. Thank God, you see everyone at the finish line. To be honest, that's the only thing that pulled me through. I kept driving for that."
Redmond stood in fourth place for much of the race until he caught up to Conshohocken's Sean-Patrick Oswald and Shavertown's Kyle Suponcic. He ran neck-and-neck with Forty Fort's Jeffrey Skwierz until they rounded the final curve. Redmond pulled away to a 7:13.3 victory, eclipsing Skwierz by 2.3 seconds.
"My coach (Chris Wadas) told me to make small move," said Redmond, a Wyoming Area and Misericordia graduate. "You only have three or four lives, and you need to use them wisely. I used three hard moves, and I was able to have a fourth left in me to pull away."
The women's race, on the other hand, was a runaway from the first incline. Peoples pulled away from the other female runners at the 400-meter mark, and cruised to a 7:57.1-finish that proved to be the fifth overall fastest time of the race. Peoples bested second-place St. Clair's Samantha Snulais by 2 minutes, 40.1 seconds.
"It wasn't even that close," Snulais said. "Once she took off, I said to myself ‘That's it. I'm just trying to get through this race.' It was brutal."
Runners struggled with steep inclines and tight turns that they normally don't expect on the flat surfaces they typically race on. Giants Despair forced Skwierz into breaking away from his conservative style of running, instead aiming for a breakaway that eventually cost him the race.
"I got a little nervous," Skwierz said. "I think I made my move and started going after those guys earlier than expected, and I was able to grab the lead. On the last hill down the stretch, my legs just weren't going anywhere. I was just lucky to get across that line at that point."
The win puts Redmond into first overall entering the final leg of the Valley's Fastest Man competition. Redmond finished second behind Oswald, who took third Wednesday, at last week's Kirby Park Run.
Redmond, Oswald and Skwierz will vie for a $5,000 fastest runner prize when competition resumes at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 on South River Street in Wilkes-Barre.
"I'm more of a track guy the way it is," Redmond said. "Strength is probably my weakest spot. So this win is a big boost for me. Next week on flat ground will be suited for me."
Tony Korch, of Nanticoke, and Tracy Strungis, of Mountain Top, won the men's and women's Master's race, respectively. Korch, 52, crossed the finish line eighth overall at an 8:27.1 clip.
Men's standings: 1. Frank Redmond, Harding, 7:13.3; 2. Jeffrey Scwierz, Forty Fort, 7:15.6; 3. Sean-Patrick Oswald, Conshohocken, 7:33.3; 4. Kyle Suponcic, Shavertown, 7:40.1; 5. Dave Levandoski, 8:10.8; 6. Daniel Pszieniczny, Benton, 8:19.6; 7. Tony Korch, Nanticoke, 8:27.1; 8. Bob Urban, 8:44.6; 9. Jamie Miller, Larksville, 9:14.1; 10. John Kane, Shavertown, 9:30.8; 11. Glenn Zimmerman, Wilkes-Barre, 9:42.8; 12. Brent Homcha, Nesquehoning, 9:48.8; 13. Rich Collins, Wilkes-Barre, 10:04.8; 14. James Zeske, 10:04.8; 15. Tom Underwood, Catawissa, 10:04.9; 16. Rudy Morgan, 10:10.2; 17. James Gonos, 10:15.3; 18. Adam Eckhart, Nanticoke, 10:16.8; 19. Jeff Nero, Hopewell Junction, N.Y., 10:17.8; 20. Edward Urban, Kingston, 10:21.6; 21. Bob Guzenski, Dallas, 10:22.4; 22. Kyle Monaghan, 10:30.8; 23. Con McCole, 10:38.3; 24. Unknown, 10:49.1; 25. Dave Houssock, 10:53.3; 26. Scott, 11:00.4; 27. Rich Owens, Wilkes-Barre, 11:01.1; 28. Joe Dutko, Mountain Top, 11:05.8; 29. Kevin Eovitch, 11:06.6; 30. Chris Arnone, 11:08.3; 31. Maxim Furek, Mocanaqua, 11:11.3; 32. Rich Weidler, 11:27.1; 33. Paul Stanitis, Plymouth, 11:34.8; 34. Matt Phillips, 11:40.1; 35. Joe Parsons, 11:42.3; 36. Steve Litchkosoki, 11:46.1; 37. Tom Walski, 11:53.1; 38. Joe Stanitis, Plymouth, 11:53.4; 39. John Curley, Jenkins Township, 11:54.1; 40. Rob Falls, 12:11.4; 41. Nick Sabo, 12:18.3; 42. Christian Glenn, 12:19.4; 43. Jim Cole, 12:28.1; 44. John Weiss, 12:40.1; 45. Tyler Ryman, 12:45.8; 46. Allen Smith, 12:53.3; 47. Charles Hilliard, Stroudsburg, 13:46.3; 48. Andrew Pasonick, 13:57.6; 49. Rick Dejesus, 15:04.3; 50. Marc Fall, 15:08.9; 51. Rich Chase, Larksville, 17:28.6; 52. Jim Schwartz, 19:21.1
Women's standings: 1. Heidi Peoples, Scranton, 7:57.1; 2. Samantha Snulais, St. Clair, 9:37.6; 3. Jen Stec, Mocanaqua, 10:05.8; 4. Jill Matthews-Lada, Wilkes-Barre, 10:18.8; 5. Whitney Lukas, Courtdale, 10:25.4; 6. Florence Kwok, Wilkes-Barre, 11:14.8; 7. Jacki Lukas, Kingston, 11:31.4; 8. Stephanie McCole, 11:33.6; 9. Traci Strungis, 11:38.3; 10. Jennifer Heck, 11:58.1; 11. Mallory Zoeller, 12:17.3; 12. Barbara Zeske, Hanover Township, 12:26.9; 13. Stacey Weidler, Wilkes-Barre, 13:08.1; 14. Kate Jacorino, 13:23.3; 15. Joanne Smith, 13:50.6; 16. Sara Woodlard, 13:56.8; 17. Anne Melnick, 14:12.3; 18. Caitlin Schuler, 14:22.6; 19. Annie Jobson, Exeter, 14:24.1; 20. Dianna Jagodzinski, 14:24.8; 21. Jamie Fedor, Wyoming, 14:37.1; 22. Mary Therese Biebel, 14:43.6; 23. Nicole Depew, 15:09.4