Familiar faces win at Steamtown Marathon

By Robert Miner - For Times Leader
Suleman Shifa, 25, of Bronx, N.Y., breaks the tape with an official time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, 35 seconds to win the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Supporters cheer on a runner at the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Runners reach the 26-mile mark near the intersection of North Washington Aveenue and Vine Street in Scranton during the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon on Sunday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Top female-finisher Heidi Peoples, 38, of South Abington Township, breaks the tape in 2 hours, 55 minutes, 22 seconds in the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Medals wait to be presented at the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Steamtown Marathon winner Suleman Shifa, of Bronx, N.Y., reacts after receiving his medal in Scranton on Sunday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

SCRANTON — Suleman Abrar Shifa ran to his second win and Heidi Peoples ran to her fifth victory in the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon on Sunday.

Shifa, 25, of the Bronx, NY, finished the 26.2 mile trek from Forest City to downtown Scranton in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 35 seconds, winning $1,500. It was his second win at Steamtown in three years. He didn’t run in last year’s race.

Shifa, who is originally from Adiss Ababa, Ethiopia, also has a Scranton Half Marathon victory under his belt.

“I’m happy with my win,” Shifa said. “I took the lead after two miles into the race. I feel I ran at a good pace, (considering) the humidity. Too much humidity.”

Shifa said he finally took control of the race with just two miles to go.

“I ran alone over the last two miles.”

Neil Saddler, 26, of San Diego, Calif., finished second, 1:09 behind. Saddler won $1,000 for his effort. It was his first marathon. While in the area, the Californian is staying in Scranton with Nick and Alice Karzam.

Eric Harbison, of Glenshaw, finished third in 2:35:14, winning $500. Sam Kuchwara, 26, of Dickson City, finished fourth in 2:39:02, winning $300. He also won the first male local finisher award.

Peoples won top female honors and $1,500 with an 18th-place overall finish in 2:55:22. She held up five fingers saying, “That’s a hand full of wins for me in this race.”

But Peoples said it wasn’t easy.

The 38-year-old from South Abington Township started out easy due to the weather conditions.

“When I got just beyond the halfway point, I thought I could begin working it,” said Peoples, who won All-America honors 11 times at Moravian College. “But the humidity was just too much. But I still felt good until I hit 19 miles. The wall hit. And I got dizzy. I just kept working my arms and tried to keep my legs going. And I was hoping that there wasn’t another female coming up on me.”

No need to worry.

Cassandra Dooley, 26, of Annapolis, Md., finished a distant second in 3:06:20, winning $1,000. Dooley, who is a senior at the Naval Acadamy, runs on the Navy Marathon Team.

Catherine Campbell, 28, of Chapel Hill, N.C., finished third in 3:09:02, winning $500. She runs with the Bull City Track Club.

Alex Zubko, of Dallas, won an award for finishing third in the 24 & under age bracket. He clocked in at 2:56:17.

Proceeds from the 23rd annual marathon go to St. Joseph’s Center in Dunmore, a facility for neurologically impaired, multiple-handicapped and medically fragile children and young adults.

On Thursday evening at the pre-race VIP party — honoring those who have made the marathon possible, held at La Buona Vita in Dunmore — race director Bill King and race treasurer Jack Marx, presented Sister Mary Alice Jacquinot, I.H.M., president of St. Joe’s, with a check for $50,000.

The check put the amount the marathon has raised for St. Joe’s over 23 years at $1.8 million.

“We at St. Joseph’s Center are honored by the commitment of the marathon committee and volunteers,” Jacquinot said in her thank you remarks. “The athletes using their dedication (to the sport of running) to help those who are less fortunate is very inspiring. It’s a great day in NEPA.”

Also at the VIP party, marathon officials honored the late Vince Wojnar for his dedication and commitment to the sport of running.

Wojnar, who died in January at age 80, was a co-founder of the Wyoming Valley Striders, the premier running club in the Wilkes-Barre area. Wojnar did the timing at the halfway mark and, in recent years, at the 10-mile mark of the Steamtown Marathon.

King presented Wojnar’s son and daughter, Vince and Linda, with a plaque honoring their father. Linda did the timing at the 10-mile mark at this year’s race.

23rd annual Steamtown Marathon

Top 5 male finishers

1. Suleman Shifa, 25, Bronx, NY, 2:26:35, $1,500

2. Neil Saddler, 26, San Diego, Calif, 2:27:53, $1,000

3. Eric Harbison, na, Glenshaw, 2:35:14, $500

4. Sam Kuchwara, 26, Dickson City, 2:39:02, $300

5. Jeff Young, na, Bryn Mawr, 2:47:03, $100

Note: Michael Demars, 46, Claremont, NH, actually finished fifth in 2:44:07, but he was also the top masters (40 & over) finisher which is a larger money prize. So he moved into that spot which allowed Young to move into the 5th overall spot.

Top male masters winners

1. Demars

2. Mark Burton, Scranton, 2:50:27

3. Michael Blois, Ottawa, Canada, 2:50:50

Male age group winners

24 & under: Mark Rabasco, Pittsfield, Mass, 2:47:59. 25-29: Jacob Austin, Sunset, 2:47:33. 30-34: C. Fred Joslyn, Mount Holly Springs, 2:54:59. 35-39: Jason Phillips, Jamaica, NY, 2:49:14. Masters division: 40-44: Craig Siegel, Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ, 2:59:11. 45-49: Geoff Riggs, Ottawa, Canada, 3:05:37. 50-54: Scot Ursum, Grandville, Mich, 2:56:09. 55-59: Jeff Duyn, Garrett Park, Md, 2:54:23.60-64: Randy Miller, Ramsey, NJ, 3:18:09. 65-69: Leo Turissini, Scott Twp., 3:43:55.

First local male finisher: Kuchwara.

Top 5 female finishers

1. Heidi Peoples, 38, S. Abington Twp., 2:55:22, $1,500

2. Cassandra Dooley, 23, Annapolis, Md, 3:06:20, $1,000

3. Catherine Campbell, 28, Chapel Hill, NC, 3:09:02, $500

4. Stephanie Gordon, na, Ottawa, Canada, 3:12:47, $300

5. Sara Pacheco, na, Montclair, Va, 3:14:31, $100

Top female masters winners

1. Lisa Somers, Markham, 3:18:53

2. Suzanne H. Homes, Alexandria, Va, 3:23:44

3. Mariann Tullius, Wexford, 3:29:42

Female age group winners

24 & under: Grace Lane, Annapolis, Md, 3:14:48. 25-29: Daphne Panayotatos, Washington DC, 3:15:03. 30-34: Taryn Olmstead, Savannah, Ga, 3:21:19. 35-39: Sabine Fisher-Daly, Ithaca, NY, 3:15:06. Masters division: 40-44: Joan Bienvenue, Afton, Va, 3:32:00. 45-49: Cindy Dicello, Glen Allen, Va, 3:33:48. 50-54: Jo Yoshiko, na, 3:37:31. 55-59: Joann Pileggi, Fair Haven, NJ, 4:03:50. 60-64: none. 65-69: Paula Fitch, Brackney, 4:00:42.

First local female finisher: Peoples.

Handicapped race

1. Bruce Newman, 72, Stella, NC, 1:31

2. Peter Gagliardo, 33, Tenafly, NJ, 2:06

3. Rob Leiser, 63, Nazareth, 2:14

4. Maria Bournias, 3:16

Race info

Field: 1,573 (runners from 40 states and five countries competed).

Kids race: 60.

Starter: Justin Sandy.

Traffic control: Kevin Calpin.

Expo and finish line: Jim Moran.

Kids race: Elaine Walker, John Major and Pat Knight.

Registration: Anne Gallagher.

Treasurer: Jack Marx.

Race director: Bill King.

Director’s assistant: Jim Cummings.

Timing at 10-mile mark: Linda Wojnar (Wyoming Valley Striders).

Timing and results: Scranton Running Company (scrantonrunning.com).

Schedule

Sunday, Oct. 28: Wyoming Valley Striders 31st annual Fall Trail Run (5.5 mile age group graded race) at Frances Slocum State Park, Kingston Twp., at noon. Info: Don Grose, 570-239-5792 or Linda Wojnar, 570-262-0603.

Sunday, Nov. 11: Wyoming Valley Striders 5th annual 20K Run at Lehigh Gorge State Park, White Haven, at 9 a.m. Info: Tony Pszeniczny, 570-262-9133.

Thursday, Nov. 22 (Thanksgiving): 109th running of (9 mile) Run for the Diamonds, Market and Second streets, Berwick at 10:30 a.m. Info: Margaret Livsey, 570-759-1300.

Suleman Shifa, 25, of Bronx, N.Y., breaks the tape with an official time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, 35 seconds to win the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100818SteamtownMarathon_1_ne201810716351319.jpgSuleman Shifa, 25, of Bronx, N.Y., breaks the tape with an official time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, 35 seconds to win the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Supporters cheer on a runner at the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100818SteamtownMarathon_3_ne2018107163526378.jpgSupporters cheer on a runner at the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Runners reach the 26-mile mark near the intersection of North Washington Aveenue and Vine Street in Scranton during the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon on Sunday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100818SteamtownMarathon_4_ne2018107163532271.jpgRunners reach the 26-mile mark near the intersection of North Washington Aveenue and Vine Street in Scranton during the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon on Sunday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Top female-finisher Heidi Peoples, 38, of South Abington Township, breaks the tape in 2 hours, 55 minutes, 22 seconds in the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100818SteamtownMarathon_5_ne2018107163537872.jpgTop female-finisher Heidi Peoples, 38, of South Abington Township, breaks the tape in 2 hours, 55 minutes, 22 seconds in the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday morning. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Medals wait to be presented at the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100818SteamtownMarathon_6_ne2018107163545620.jpgMedals wait to be presented at the 23rd annual Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Sunday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Steamtown Marathon winner Suleman Shifa, of Bronx, N.Y., reacts after receiving his medal in Scranton on Sunday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100818SteamtownMarathon_2_ne2018107163520224.jpgSteamtown Marathon winner Suleman Shifa, of Bronx, N.Y., reacts after receiving his medal in Scranton on Sunday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

By Robert Miner

For Times Leader