There will be five events, one every month from June through October, this year on the distance running calendar
Distance running has steadily grown in popularity among local athletes over the course of the past three decades.
Names like Lisa Roder, Renee Robbins, Meaghan Robbins, Coulby Dunn, Corey Smith and Sean Craig all conjure exciting images of explosive starts and fantastic finishes.
There was a time (in the not-so-distant past) when cross country and track were niche sports that drew limited attention from the press. Nowadays, though, distance running events can draw huge crowds and dominate the headlines.
So, it was with a sense of genuine excitement that officials from five different races recently gathered to announce the line-up for this year's Wayne County 5K Challenge.
“It's going to be pretty amazing,” said Ryan French, organizer of the Roy Thorpe Memorial Run.
“We're all really looking forward to it. Hopefully, the weather cooperates and we all have big turnouts.”
Breakin' It Down
The 2014 Wayne County 5K Challenge consists of five separate races.
There will be one event each month beginning in June and carrying right through to October.
First up is the Roy Thorpe Memorial 5K, which is slated for Saturday, June 14 in Waymart.
The second leg of the series is the Perkins Race, held at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Dyberry Township on Saturday, July 19.
Next up is the Habitat for Humanity 5K, which will go off on Saturday morning, August 23 in Honesdale.
The series' penultimate race is the YMCA 5K Walk/ Run, set for Saturday, September 20 at the HHS Athletic Complex.
Rounding out the 2014 calendar is the Run to Read 5K, sponsored by the Hawley Public Library, and held Saturday, October 4 at Bingham Park.
Last year's inaugural Wayne County 5K Challenge got off to an electrifying start.
Jason Kennedy, a veteran runner and volunteer coach at Honesdale High, set a brand new course record at the Thorpe Memorial 5K.
Kennedy covered the challenging layout in a time of 17:48, good for a :21 margin over his closest pursuer, runner-up Steven Brown (18:09).
This win in Waymart was just a hint of things to come as the 32-year-old from Pleasant Mount swept to victories in all four Challenge events.
Jason went on to take first place at the Perkins Race (17:29), the Habitat for Humanity (16:59) and the YMCA 5K (17:39).
In recognition of Jason's feat, he received t-shirts, trophies, medals and a check for $200.
On the women's side of the ledger, Cindy Batzel got the ball rolling last summer with a win in Waymart.
Cindy covered the course in a time of 22:05, chased home by Waymart's own Kim Dennis (23:09).
The first leg of the Wayne County 5K Challenge honors Roy Thorpe, a multi-sport standout and 1956 graduate of Waymart High School.
Sadly, Thorpe passed away in 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.
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.
Tessa Barrett cruised to an easy win on the women's side at the 2013 Perkins Memorial Race.
And, this was just the beginning of an incredible year for the senior from Abington Heights.
Barrett went on to win the District Two Class AAA cross country crown. Tessa then kept right on going, capturing prestigious races at the state, regional and national levels.
At the conclusion of this spring's outdoor track & field season, Barrett will start focusing on what should be an outstanding collegiate career at Penn State University.
And to think ... it all began last June at the venerable Dyberry Oval!
By the Numbers
The 2014 Wayne County 5K Challenge is open to runners of all ages and abilities.
Each event features both a competitive race and a recreational walk.
For further information on each leg of this year's event, please contact...
•Ryan French, organizer of the Roy Thorpe 5K (570-647-7069).
•Tammy Jensen, organizer of the Perkins 5K (570-352-6100).
•Tom Tressler, Habitat for Humanity 5K (570-251-8115).
•Tina Hoehn, YMCA 5K (570-253-2083).
•Susie George, Run to Read 5K (570-226-4620).