KINGSTON -- In the spring, the Wyoming Valley Striders tried something new – running their Spring Trail Run at Frances Slocum State Park as an age group handicap race. On Sunday, the Striders ran their Fall Trail Run as an age group handicap race.
Runners – depending on their gender and age – were given head starts. Some runners (older females) were given as much as an 11-minute head start while others, such as males ages 35-39 were given just a 56-second head start. Male runners 34 and younger were classified as open division competitors and didn't receive a handicap.
The more things change – the more they stay the same.
Tony Korch -- who had won the spring and fall trail runs under the old format numerous times – ran to victory in the spring race in May under the new format. And he ran to victory again on Sunday in the Fall Trail Run handicap race.
Korch finished the 5.5-miler in 52 minutes and 34 seconds. But because the clock starts ticking, the moment the first flight (older women) gets underway, Korch's time is misleading. He actually finished in 36:36, according to his own chronograph. Korch, 52, of Nanticoke outran second-place finisher, Tye Sutphen, 15, of Larksville by nearly six minutes.
It went well despite the wet conditions, Korch said. It was not tough going at all. With the staggered starting times, you have to keep pushing the entire way because you have no idea where everyone else is.
Jen Stec, who was the first female to finish (11th overall in 1:02:42) echoed Korch's sentiments.
That's exactly what I was feeling the whole way, said Stec, 37, of Mocanaqua who, like Korch, had won the trail races under the old format numerous times. You don't know where your competition is. So you have to just keep pushing. I normally don't like running two days in a row (Stec finished third among the women and Korch finished second overall in the King's 5K Run on Saturday in Kirby Park). But I felt good today and decided to give it a go.
She's glad she did.
The handicaps were determined by the World Masters Association, an organization that collects statistics on how much runners slow down with age. The format gives older runners a chance to pull off big wins. The handicaps are determined mathematically. Theoretically, all runners should finish around the same time.
Top 15 award winners
Tony Korch, 52, Nanticoke, 52:34
Tye Sutphen, 15, Larksville, 58:31
John McGurk, 46, Dallas, 58:41
Tony Pszenczny, 51, Mountain Top, 58:53
Brian Thomas, 42, Tunkhannock, 60:23
Jeff Austin, 16, Pringle, 60:31
Dan Rosa, 42, Hughesville, 60:37
Mike Rawls, 54, Mountain Top, 60:39
Bob Warnagiris, 53, Hunlock Creek, 61:18
Bob Guzenski, 45, Dallas, 62:34
Jen Stec, 37, Mocanaqua, 62:42
Craig Smith, 36, Forty Fort, 63:41
Dave Homa, 36, Ashley, 64:24
Ron Lozowski, 43, Warren Glen, 64:46
Traci Dutko-Stungis, 43, Mountain Top, 64:56
Field: 39 (32 men and seven women). Starter: Vince A. Wojnar (race director). Timing: Vince P. Wojnar. Results: Wyoming Valley Striders.
Schedule: Thursday, Nov. 22 (Thanksgiving): Berwick Marathon Association's (9 mile) Run for the Diamonds at Market and Second streets, Berwick at 10:30 a.m. Info: Margaret Livsey, 759-1300.