PITTSTON — Matt Flynn and Caitlin Gaughan upped their performances from last year and scored victories in the Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run on Saturday.
Flynn, who finished second to Jeff McCabe last year, turned things around this year, winning in 16 minutes, 32 seconds. McCabe finished second, 25 seconds behind. Mike Havrilla, 16, of Pittston, finished third in 17:42.
“I surged into the lead at about the halfway point of the race,” said Flynn, 27, of Media and formerly from Pittston. “Once I moved in front, I tried really hard to maintain somewhat of a lead over Jeff because I know he’s a really good runner. And I didn’t want to get into a kicking contest with him down the home stretch of the race.”
Flynn’s strategy worked.
Gaughan used her usual strategy to score her win.
Gaughan, who finished third last year behind the winner Alexandria Plant and second-place finisher Deedra Porfirio, won top female honors in 19:27. Porfirio, 36, of West Pittston, took second again, finishing 28 seconds behind. Tara Johnson, a promising 15-year-old from Avoca, finished third, three seconds behind Porfirio.
“I always start out a race at the back of the pack,” said Gaughan, 27, of Scranton. “I feel it’s better for me to gradually pick up the pace throughout the race. I passed the front running female around mile 2. After that, I received encouragement from a guy who was running near me. He just told me to stay relaxed. I pushed it to the finish.”
When asked if she stayed relaxed, Gaughan said, “I don’t know if any runner ever stays relaxed. But we tell ourselves we’re relaxing.”
• Flynn, who ran for Pittston Area High School, runs for the prestigious Bryn Mawr Running Company.
• McCabe, 29, of Exeter, has won the Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run five times. He ran for Wyoming Area High School and Edinboro University. He finished 10th in a field of over 10,000 runners in the LA Marathon in March of 2012.
• Gaughan ran for Scranton High School.
• Porfirio won in Pittston in 2011.
• Plant, who ran and swam for Wyoming Valley West High School, won the Pittston race in 2010, finished third in 2011 and won last year. She didn’t run Saturday.
• This year’s race marked the second year in a row that the event has been attached with Miles for Michael, an organization that provides support to cancer patients and their families.
This year’s race was also attached to the Boston Marathon. Runners’ shirts featured the Boston Red Sox ‘B’ with the word ‘STRONG’ printed under the logo.
A donation of $4 from each runners’ application will be given to the Miles for Michael organization. And a $1 donation from each runners’ application will be donated to assist families affected by the tragic events that occurred during the Boston Marathon.