LAUREL RUN — Phil Celona and Marina Orrson — the same two runners who won the first of the three races of the Valley’s Fastest Man and Woman Series — scored victories in the second race of the series, Giants Despair Challenge on Wednesday evening.
Celona, 22, of Philadelphia, finished the grueling 1.1-mile hill, made famous by the auto hill climb, in 6 minutes and 47 seconds. His time was five seconds shy of the course record, set by Nick Hilton in 2011. Celona outran second-place finisher, Chris Bodary, 23, of Downingtown, by 11 seconds. Celona defeated Bodary in the Chase Mile (the first of the three races) on Aug. 14 by one second.
“After looking at the course record, I knew I would have to run hard,” Celona said. “I couldn’t mess around. So I went out hard right from the gun. I went as hard as I could for as long as I could. I didn’t want to relinquish the lead like I did in the first race (Bodary passed Celona late in the Chase Mile, but Celona regained the lead and went on to win).”
“I now have a 12-second lead going into the final race,” Celona said. “That’s a comfortable lead. So my plan is to go after the course record. I don’t know if I’ll get it. But I’ll give it a shot.”
The final race of the series is the River Street Mile, set for Friday, Aug. 30, in downtown Wilkes-Barre at 7 p.m.
Male and female winners of the series will win $500. The winners of the River Street Mile win $200. And there is a bonus of $200 for setting a course record.
Orrson, 22, of Shavertown, won the female division easily, finishing eighth overall in 8:05. Ali Shappert, 26, of Hanover Twp., finished second among the females, one minute behind Orrson. Orrson will go into the final race with a commanding lead.
Unlike Celona, Orrson used a different strategy on the Giants Despair hill.
“I tried to go out slow,” Orrson said. “Everyone was telling me not to go out too fast. I let a group of guys go out ahead of me. I began to pick it up just after the halfway point. I tried to push the final section (the steepest part of the course) as hard as I could. But, it felt to me that at that point, I was walking,” she said with a smile.
Giants Despair hill has a 22 percent upgrade over at least one third of the course. The infamous Alpe d’ Huez — the mountain pasture in the central Alps which is part of the Tour de France bike race — features somewhere in the neighborhood of a 15 percent upgrade.
Celona runs for Jenkintown-Fairmont Running Company. He ran cross country and track for Archbishop Ryan High School. He was part of his school’s All-America distance medley relay team in 2008.
Bodary ran cross country and track for Bishop Shanahan High School and for the University of Tennessee.
Buck ran cross country and track for Cardinal O’Hara High School, Kansas State University and Shippensburg University.
Pszeniczny ran cross country and track for Shippensburg University and for Bloomsburg University. He received All-America honors twice at Bloom.
Orrson ran cross country and track for Lake-Lehman High School and for Misericordia University. Last season, as a senior, Orrson qualified for Nationals in the 10,000 meter run.
Cameron ran cross country and track for Souderton High School and for Misericordia University.
Lukas didn’t run in high school. She was a forward on the Wyoming Valley West field hockey team.
Top 10 finishers
1. Phil Celona , 22, Philadelphia, 6:47
2. Chris Bodary, Downingtown, 6:58
3. Sean Robbins, 43, Shavertown, 7:18
4. Kyle Suponcic, 23, Shavertown,7:25
5. Ed Buck, 24, Prospect Park, 7:41
6. Ken Quigley, 42, Dunmore, 7:56
7. Dan Pszeniczny, 45, Benton, 7:57
8. Marina Orrson, 22, Shavertown, 8:05
9. John Martino, 24, Dallas, 8:14
10. Tony Korch, 53, Nanticoke, 8:34
Top 4 females
1. Marina, 22, Shavertown, 8:05
2. Ali Shappert, 26, Hanover Twp., 9:05
3. Deedra Porfirio, 36, W. Pittston, 9:32
4. Kelsey Cameron, 22, Shavertown, 9:42
Top 4 males leading in the series after two races
1. Phil Celona, 11:15 (combined times)
2. Chris Bodary, 11:26
3. Ed Buck, 12:14
4. Sean Robbins, 12:16
Top 4 females leading series after two races
1. Marina Orrson, 13:27
2. Kelsey Cameron, 15:34
3. Whitney Lukas, 16:35
4. Jen Stec, 16:57
Official Starter: Chris Wadas. Timing and results: Dove Timing Services. Race director: Rich Pais. Male course record: Nick Hilton, 6:42 (set in 2011). Female course record: Heidi Peoples, 7:58 (set in 2012).
Saturday: Nescopeck State Park Trail Runs at Honey Pot Road, Drums at 9 a.m. Info: Frank Gaval, 788-4219.
Friday, Aug. 30: Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Friday Night 5K Run at S. River and Northampton streets, Wilkes-Barre at 6:15 p.m. Info: Rich Pais, 814-0346.
Friday, Aug. 30: One Source Valley’s Fastest Man and Woman: River Street Mile (final race of three in series) starting at River Side Drive and Old River Road at 7 p.m. and finishing at S. River and Northampton streets. Info: Rich Pais, 814-0346.
Saturday, Aug. 31: Wyoming Valley Striders 39th annual Cliff Robbins Sr. Memorial High School Invitational Cross Country Races at Letterkenny Fields, just off 42nd Street, Dallas Twp. At 9:30 a.m.
Race No. 1. Girls Junior High 3K, 9:30 a.m.
Race No. 2. Boys Junior High 3K, 10:10 a.m.
Race No. 3. Girls Varsity 5K, 10:45 a.m.
Race No. 4. Boys Varsity 5K, 11:45 a.m.
The girls varsity race will feature two of the top runners in the state, Regan Rome, of Dallas High School and Tessa Barrett, of Abington Heights High School. Info: Vince Wojnar, 474-5363.
Saturday, Aug. 31: Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Half Marathon and 10K runs T S. River and Northampton streets, Wilkes-Barre at 8 a.m. Info: Rich Pais, 814-0346.