McCabe, Martino run to Cherry Blossom 5-Mile wins

Dave Buckman,, Forty Fort, looks over the field and race layout with Amy Scutt, left, and Anna Scutt, both of Mountain Top, for the 44th Annual Cherry Blossom 5-mile Foot Race and 1-mile Walk on Sunday morning at Kirby Park. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Marina Martino, 27, Dallas, was the top female finisher and third place overall with a time of 29:43. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Chris McCabe, 28, Wyoming, glances up at the timing clock as he crosses the finish line in first place with a time of 25:44. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Top female finisher Marina Martino (84) and overall winner Chris McCabe (78) break away from the pack at the start Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 5-mile Foot Race and 1-mile Walk. More than 70 runners participated in the event at Kirby Park. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Chris McCabe and Marina Martino, running for their first time in the Cherry Blossom 5-Mile Foot Race, ran to victories on Sunday in Kirby Park.

McCabe, 28, of Carlisle and formerly from Wyoming, ran away with the field, finishing in 25 minutes and 44 seconds, posting one of the better times in the race’s history.

“My goal going into the race was to finish under 26 minutes,” said McCabe, who ran track for Wyoming Area High School, specializing in the 400- and 800-meter runs. “I wanted to run at a 5:10 or 5:11 pace per mile. I was right on target for that. I didn’t seem to suffer any peaks and lows. I was able to run at a steady pace throughout. But I was running alone out there without anybody pushing me. When that happens, it becomes mentally challenging — but I was able to push myself.”

Martino, 27, of Dallas, won the female division with a third-place overall finish in 29:43.

Martino ran in third place over the first half mile of the race, trailing Jeff Bachak, 30, of Jermyn, who won the race last year. At that point she decided to pass Bachak, and moved into second place. Bachak was able to catch and pass Martino two miles later.

“I dropped back to third place — where I belonged,” Martino said.” I’m going to be running in the Vermont City Marathon, in Burlington, Vt. on the day before Memorial Day. So I’m training for that. This race actually served as miles 13-17 of my long-distance workout for today.”

Martino and her husband, John, are planning to return right after the Vermont Marathon in time to compete in the Old Fort 5-Miler in Forty Fort on Memorial Day.

Bachak, 30, of Jermyn, finished second overall in 29:24.

Tim Thomas Memorial Scholarships awarded

In 2004, race officials of the Wyoming Valley Striders running club added “Tim Thomas Memorial” to the Cherry Blossom 5-Mile Foot Race’s name in memory of Thomas.

Thomas, who was a standout runner from Plains Township, and ran for Bloomsburg University, died at age 31. His widow, Kim, started a scholarship in his memory.

Each year Kim contacts all Wyoming Valley Conference guidance counsellors with the criteria for entering a scholarship contest. The contest is for high school seniors who plan to run at the college level. Each contestant is asked to write Kim a letter explaining what running means to them. Kim then picks two winners (one girl and one boy) from the letters that impress her the most. Both winners receive a $750 scholarship.

This year’s winners, who were announced after the race, are Jude Fry of Lake-Lehman and Kevin Walker of Berwick Area.

Fry will be attending Shippensburg University.

In her letter, Fry wrote, “There is nothing more invigorating than trail running on a crisp autumn morning, taking in the beauty of the newly fallen leaves and the brilliant colors that nature has to offer. No matter how overwhelmed and stressed I feel, my mood could always be improved by a distance run.”

Walker, who will attend Penn State Hazleton and eventually at State College, wrote, “Most people can recall an event, a moment or a place in their life that has changed them monumentally. Something so impactful that they don’t know where they would be without it. That special ‘something’ to me has been the sport of running. Not only has running taught me how to be a respectable and understanding athlete, but it has also made me into a better, well-rounded human being. This sport has granted me the privilege of meeting my second family as well as my best friends.”

Note: Marina Martino — who has dominated the female divisions of area races for over five years under her maiden name, Orrson — is actually related to the late Tim Thomas. Donna Orrson, Marina’s aunt’s sister, Rita Thomas, is Tim’s mother.

Dave Buckman,, Forty Fort, looks over the field and race layout with Amy Scutt, left, and Anna Scutt, both of Mountain Top, for the 44th Annual Cherry Blossom 5-mile Foot Race and 1-mile Walk on Sunday morning at Kirby Park.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_44th-Cherry-Blossom-5mile-race-1.jpgDave Buckman,, Forty Fort, looks over the field and race layout with Amy Scutt, left, and Anna Scutt, both of Mountain Top, for the 44th Annual Cherry Blossom 5-mile Foot Race and 1-mile Walk on Sunday morning at Kirby Park. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Marina Martino, 27, Dallas, was the top female finisher and third place overall with a time of 29:43. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_44th-Cherry-Blossom-5mile-race-3.jpgMarina Martino, 27, Dallas, was the top female finisher and third place overall with a time of 29:43. Tony Callaio | For Times LeaderTony Callaio | For Times Leader

Chris McCabe, 28, Wyoming, glances up at the timing clock as he crosses the finish line in first place with a time of 25:44. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_44th-Cherry-Blossom-5mile-race-4.jpgChris McCabe, 28, Wyoming, glances up at the timing clock as he crosses the finish line in first place with a time of 25:44. Tony Callaio | For Times LeaderTony Callaio | For Times Leader

Top female finisher Marina Martino (84) and overall winner Chris McCabe (78) break away from the pack at the start Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 5-mile Foot Race and 1-mile Walk. More than 70 runners participated in the event at Kirby Park.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_44th-Cherry-Blossom-5mile-race-2.jpgTop female finisher Marina Martino (84) and overall winner Chris McCabe (78) break away from the pack at the start Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 5-mile Foot Race and 1-mile Walk. More than 70 runners participated in the event at Kirby Park. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Wyoming Valley Striders 44th annual Cherry Blossom 5-Mile Foot Race

Tim Thomas Memorial results

Top 15 finishers

Chris McCabe, 28, Carlisle, 25:44

Jeff Bachak, 30, Jermyn, 29:24

Marina Martino, 27, Dallas, 29:43

Paul Leonard, 55, Scranton, 31:03

Jon Renfer, 14, Pittston, 32:21

John Reddic, 50, Hanover Twp., 32:27

John Zawadski, 46, Luzerne, 35:15

Don Lavin, 57, Scranton, 35;28

John Rhee, 45, Pittsburgh, 36:02

Paul Manley, 46, Plymouth, 36:15

Herb Kline, 58, Bloomsburg, 36:18

Jon Valentine, 40, Forty Fort, 36:35

Dawn Amy Rhee, 42, Pittsburgh, 37:14

Don Shearer, 50, W. Pittston, 37:19

Kevin Walker, 18, Berwick, 37:59

Male award winners: Overall: McCabe. Age group winners: 14 & under: 1. Jon Renfer, Pittston, 32:21. 15-19: 1. Kevin Walker, Berwick, 37:59. 20-29: 1. David Buckman, Kingston, 43:49. 30-34: 1. Jeff Bachak, Jermyn, 29:24; 2. Tony Prudente, Archbald, 42:16; Stephen Prokop, Glen Lyon, 51:37. Masters division: 40-44: 1. Jon Valentine, Forty Fort, 36:35. 45-49: John Zawadski, Luzerne, 35:15; 2. John Rhee, Pittsburgh, 36:02; 3. Paul Manley, Plymouth, 36:15. 50-54: 1. John Reddic, Hanover Twp., 32:27; 2. Don Shearer, W. Pittston, 37:19; 3. Mike Corcoran, Wilkes-Barre, 44:11. 55-59: 1. Paul Leonard, Scranton, 31:03; 2. Don Lavin, Scranton, 35:28; 3. Herb Kline, Bloomsburg, 36:18. 60-64: 1. Vince Grattolino, Roaring Brook Twp., 42:50; 2. John Miller, Lake Ariel, 47:09; 3. Ron Ruda, Dallas, 49:18. 65-69: 1. Len Matysczak, Wyoming, 44:20. 70 & over: 1. Tom Winter, Shavertown, 53:47.

Female award winners: Overall: Martino. Age group winners: 15-19: 1. Abigail Post, Mountain Top, 48:22. 20-29: 1. Amy Scutt, Mountain Top, 47:10; 2. Anna Scutt, Mountain Top, 56:02; 3. Amanda Rando, Dallas, 1:01:56. 30-34: 1. Lindsey O’Connor, Kingston, 45:13; 2. Katie Lykon, Larksville, 46:08; 3. Joy Wydra, Wilkes-Barre, 58:48. 35-39: 1. Jessica Caramanna, W. Pittston, 46:53; 2. Jamie Jordan, Forty Fort, 53:17. Masters division: 40-44: 1. Dawn Amy Rhee, Pittsburgh, 37:14; 2. Kerry Zawadski, Luzerne, 39:25; 3. Darby Kiley, Ithaca, N.Y., 41:01. 45-49: 1. Gina Jakubowski, Mountain Top, 39:06; 2. Sherry Harvey, Jermyn, 42:50; 3. Krista Smith, Greenfield, 42:54. 50-54: 1. Sandra Orrson, Shavertown, 41:57; 2. Karen Zeigenfuss, Lehighton, 45:05; 3. Dawn Pugliese, Dallas, 49:45. 55-59: 1. Libby Moran, Harveys Lake, 52:51; 2. Marg Kane, Ashley, 54:25. 60 & over: 1. Lori Cogswell Wolfe, Eswardsville, 54:44.

Field: 74. Pace bike: Ron Rawls. Starter and timing: Vince P. Wojnar. Results: Tony Pszeniczny (Wyoming Valley Striders). Race director: Traci Strungis.

Schedule

Sunday, May 20: Wyoming Valley Striders 27th annual (5.3mile) Spring Trail Run “Jen Stec Memorial” — an age group handicap race — at the pavilion near the boat launch area of France’s Slocum State Park, Kingston Twp. at noon. Info: Don Grose, 570-239-5792 or Linda Wojnar, 570-262-0603.

Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day): Forty Fort Lions 38th annual Old Fort 5 Miler at Betty Mascelli Borough Park, Wyoming Ave., Forty Fort at 9 a.m. Info: Bernie Popson, 570-498-7665.

Saturday, June 2: 41st annual West Pittston Anthracite 4 Mile Run at the W. Pittston Borough building, Exeter Ave., W. Pittston at 9 a.m. Info: Don Shearer, 570-357-9144 or Borough office, 570-655-7782.