The inaugural event generates funds for the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company

More than 200 participants turned out Saturday morning to take part in the inaugural Penny House 5K.

This first-ever event was the brainchild of Jennifer Barillo and Suzanne DeLorenzo, conceived to help support Lake Ariel's volunteer fire department.

“What we wanted to do was give something back to the community,” Jen said just moments before the starter's gun went off.

“The only way our fire department survives is by volunteerism and donations. So, we thought why not do something to help them out. Lake Ariel is a beautiful place to live and they're a big part of that.”

Distance running is enjoying a real renaissance this summer locally. The 2014 Wayne County 5K Challenge has already begun, attracting athletes from all over the region.

In addition, stand-alone events like Pleasant Mount's Firecracker 5K, Herd the Curd and Penny House are bringing in record numbers.

“I'm a runner and so is my daughter,” Jen said.“So, along with raising money for the fire company, we thought it a 5K might be a good way to promote health and physical fitness, too.”

Overall Winner

Saturday's race was largely comprised of local runners. However, entrants from as far away as Hawaii waited for starter's orders promptly at 9 a.m.

Following a stirring rendition of the National Anthem and a short prayer, the gun sounded and runners were off. They attacked a scenic 3.1-mile course which wound its way around Lake Ariel.

Less than 20 minutes later, the first competitors appeared in the distance, slicing through the humid air and rocketing toward the finish line.

Caleb Jensen broke the tape, stopping the clock at 17:06.55. The Honesdale High School sophomore smiled as he crossed the line, boasting a 35-second cushion over his closest competitor.

“We went out pretty fast and kept up the pace right up to the halfway point,” Caleb said. “I made my move right after the turn-around. I pretty much just pulled away and held on to it until the end.”

Jensen is off to a stellar start this summer on the local 5K scene. He already owns a win at the Thorpe Memorial and is hoping for another next weekend at the Perkins Race.

“My training has been going really well,” Caleb said. “I've been pushing pretty hard and I feel great.”

Adam Vaccaro jetted his way to a runner-up finish in the overall standings.

Western Wayne's top distance runner came home in a time of 17:41.86.

Rounding out the front five were: Haskey Fleming (18:50.43), Jason Kennedy (18:53.46) and Ben Sverduk (19:16.23).

Ladies Champ

On the women's side of the bracket, Jennifer Korty cruised to a first place overall finish.

A 15-year-old home-schooler from Forest City, Korty burst onto the scene last Independence Day with a win at the Firecracker 5K.

Korty runs both track and cross country for the Lady Foresters and is looking forward to a big year.

“I like the course,” Jennifer said. “There were some rolling hills, but it was fast and pretty easy.

“This is my first race of the season. I was going to run in Pleasant Mount again, but I rolled my ankle the day before. It's fine now and I feel great ... really tired, but great.”

Korty posted a time of 21:01.03, good for first among the women and ninth overall. She was chased home by her brother, Joshua, who wound up 10th in 21:24.31.

Paige Barillo was the second woman in, stopping the clock at 22:15.

Completing the top five for the women were: Rachel Korty (22:19.51), Amy Wood (23:55.45) and Katie Swartz (23:59.20).

Over & Out

Jen Barillo and Suzanne DeLorenzo invested a great deal of time in the inaugural Penny House 5K. They're hoping this initial success means it may grow into an annual tradition.

“I'm really happy with the turnout,” Jen said with a big smile. “This is a great community with a lot of wonderful people and it's nice to see them come out.

“I'm hoping that this is something that will get bigger and better every year in the future.”