The skies were murky, the humidity high and temperatures were already beginning to climb as race time drew near.
Not exactly premier conditions for a distance running event, but spirits were high nevertheless in downtown Pleasant Mount Thursday morning.
After all, it was July 4th and nearly 100 runners and walkers had awakened at the crack of dawn to begin their holiday festivities in style by competing in the Firecracker 5K.
"I'm really happy to see all these people here today," race organizer Carl Albright. "It's awesome to see everyone here to help us celebrate Independence Day."
In keeping with the day's patriotic theme, runners and walkers sang the National Anthem at the starting line.
They then raced off into the countryside as the sun broke through the clouds, seemingly right on cue.
Setting the Stage
The Firecracker 5K began modestly last year and appears to be gaining popularity largely on word of mouth.
Many local residents gathered at Samuel Meredith Park to help in any way they could.
Some brought water, some brought food. Others helped lay out the course, while still others simply showed up to cheer the runners home.
All proceeds from this second annual event will benefit the Boy Scouts of America Troop 407.
"We're very grateful to everyone who came out to support the race and support the kids," Carl said.
He went on to point out that these funds will help send the Boy Scouts to summer camp and also help finance many of their volunteer projects.
Page 2 of 3 - "These kids do a whole bunch of things to help their community," Carl said. "They're good kids and they're working hard to build character and become fine young men."
On the Dais
Steven Brown was the first runner across the line on this particular day.
A graduate of Central Mountain who ran track in high school, Brown decided to continue his athletic career as a member of the Lycoming College cross country team.
Despite the stifling early morning conditions, Brown still sprinted his way to a solid win. His time of 18:41 proved to be 28 seconds faster than runner-up Matt Nebzydoski (19:09).
"It was definitely a little more difficult than I thought it would be," Steve said with a chuckle.
"I've been looking for some different 5Ks to run this summer and this was a nice one. The people were friendly and the course was pretty challenging. It was a great experience."
Tyler DeBrino finished up third with a time of 20:07. Craig Borders (21:01) and Kevin Arnold (21:03) rounded out the front five for the men.
On the women's side of the ledger, Jennifer Korty was first across the line.
A home-schooler who's preparing to run cross country at Forest City as a freshman, Korty covered the hilly course in a solid time of 22:07.
"I went out kind of hard, then I took it easy until the end when I kicked it in," she said. "I wanted to win, so I'm pretty happy with how I ran today."
Korty is also a budding track & field star. She focuses on the sprints (200M and 400M), but also competes in both hurdling events (100M and 300M).
Jennifer's next closest competitor at the 2013 Firecracker 5K was Jamie Brown. The daughter of Honesdale's own Ron & Becky Rowe, she is the wife of overall race winner Steven Brown.
Page 3 of 3 - Jamie stopped the clock at 22:10. She was chased home by Rachel Korty (22:24) and Erin Donnelly (24:38).
Overall, the Top 10 finishers at the Second Annual Firecracker 5K were...
•Steven Brown, 18:41
•Matt Nebzdoski, 19:09
•Tyler DeBrino, 20:07
•Craig Borders, 21:01
•Kevin Arnold, 21:03
•Bob Guzzi, 21:39
•Mark Dorish, 22:02
•Jennifer Korty, 22:07
•Jamie Brown, 22:10
•Rachel Korty, 22:24.