Weather conditions couldn't have been better for the first leg of the inaugural Wayne County 5K Challenge.
Hundreds of folks turned out on a beautiful Saturday morning to participate in the 5th Annual Roy Thorpe Memorial Run/Walk, which is sponsored by the Waymart Lions Club.
The event attracted some of the area's elite athletes to RD Wilson and marked the official start of the summer season.
"We're really happy with the turnout," said event organizer and Lions Club President Ryan French. "This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, so we're very grateful for the support we get from the community."
Next up on the 5K calendar are the Perkins Memorial (July 13), Habitat for Humanity (Aug. 24) and Wayne County YMCA (Sept. 21).
These four races comprise the 2013 Wayne County 5K Challenge.
Should any male or female runner finish first overall in every race, he/she will receive a $200 grand prize. If no one is able to accomplish this in one race season, $200 will be added to the grand prize each year.
Two years ago, Jason Kennedy set a new course record at the Thorpe Memorial 5K.
The veteran runner and volunteer distance running coach at Honesdale High School stopped the clock at 17:15, but saw that mark erased last summer by Jason Theobald.
On Saturday, Kennedy returned to the winners circle with yet another impressive performance. Jason covered the challenging layout in a time of 17:48, good for a 21 second cushion over runner-up Steven Brown (18:09).
"This is definitely a tough course, but it's one of my favorites," Kennedy said just moments after crossing the finish line.
"I went out a little bit too hard at the start and I paid for that at the end. But, I'm happy to see all these younger runners here. This is a nice event and I had a lot of fun."
Page 2 of 3 - Cindy Batzel, who captured the women's overall crown, was quick to agree.
"It was awesome ... I really enjoyed it," she said. "This is a pretty challenging course, though. That second hill kind of caught me off guard. But, I had a great time and I'll definitely be back next year."
This was Batzel's first crack at the Thorpe Memorial 5K and she made it a memorable one. Cindy stopped the clock at 22:05, good for first place over runner-up Kim Dennis of Waymart (23:09).
On the Dais
Several of those "young guns" to whom Kennedy alluded earned medals Saturday morning in Waymart.
Honesdale's Colin Rickard rocketed his way to third place overall. Rickard is just 12-years-old but is already being heralded as a future cross country star.
Colin crossed the line in a time of 19:13, four seconds faster than fourth place finisher Jeff Gogolski of Waymart (19:17).
Another young runner who appears to have a very bright future at Honesdale is Ben Wilken. The 14-year-old Hornet thinclad rounded out Saturday's front five with a time of 19:24.
Brad Myers of Damascus (19:33), Adam Curtis of Waymart (21:19), Rock Warnegiris of Hunlock Creek (21:41), Robert Gardye of Hamlin (21:55) and Mark Dorish (21:59) also cracked the Top Ten overall.
On the women's side of the ledger, Cheyenne Snyder (24:01) finished third. She was chased home by Meaghan Gibbons (4th, 24:03) and Larisa Rickard (5th, 24:09).
All of these runners and several hundred spectators came out to honor the memory of the late Roy Thorpe.
A multi-sport standout and 1956 graduate of Waymart High School, Thorpe passed away in June 2010. He starred in basketball and baseball, then went off to serve his country in the US Navy as a Flight Deck Technician on the USS Ranger.
Page 3 of 3 - Roy was a longtime member of the Waymart Lions Club and an avid supporter of local youth athletics. He was elected to the Wayne County Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
Ten members of the Thorpe Family were on hand Saturday to walk the course in honor of Roy. They included his wife, Georgia, children and grandchildren.