More than 60 runners and hundreds of fans turned out for the annual Independence Day event

Not even rising temperatures and high humidity could melt the enthusiasm of local runners as they traveled to northern Wayne County for one of the area's most popular Independence Day events.

Tradition

On Wednesday morning, nearly 100 folks of all ages and abilities gathered at Samuel Meredith Park in Pleasant Mount to compete in the Firecracker 5K

This seventh annual event was organized by Kimberly Mele and Laura Wolfe to raise funds for Boy Scout Troop 407.

“Well, the weather was definitely a factor, but we're very happy and grateful to everyone who showed up and participated,” Kimberly said of the race.

“It's become kind of a tradition because it kicks off the 4th of July festivities here in Pleasant Mount. It's a great way to celebrate the holiday and it's also a great way to support all the local Boy Scouts.”

Charlie Schaefer of Blue Bell (PA) was the overall race winner with a dominant performance that saw him cross the finish line nearly two minutes ahead of his closest pursuer.

Rachel Korty of Pleasant Mount was the first female runner home. She outdueled veteran thinclad Tiffany Leventhal down the stretch to capture the crown.

“It was a great race and we get such amazing support from our volunteers and the community,” said Kimberly. “I just want to say a huge 'thank you' to everyone who helped.”

At the Line

The 2018 Firecracker 5K went off exactly at 7:30 a.m. in the shadow of Samuel Meredith's historic statue, located in the park at the intersection of Rtes. 670, 371 and Padwa Road.

Runners attacked a slight uphill grade past Saint James Catholic Church on the pavement, then took a right hand turn onto T614.

The course continues flat and fast until it reaches its designated turnaround spot. The final approach to the finish line is downhill and helps create some fantastic finishes.

On this particular day, Schaefer was nothing short of dominant. A veteran distance runner who hails from Montgomery County, Charlie raced out to a big early lead and then cruised home to victory.

Schaefer posted a blistering time of 17:18 on this wheel-measured 5,000 meter course.

Honesdale's own Dustin Edsall earned runner-up honors. The Hornet track and cross country standout stopped the clock at 19:16.

Rounding out the top five among the men were: Nick Paradise (19:57), AG Howell (21:26) and Alex Eikenberry (21:54).

Meanwhile, on the ladies' side of the bracket, Rachel added another line to the already impressive Korty Family 5K resume.

Older sister Jennifer has won this race in the past, while brother Matthew has also turned in outstanding performances.

For her part, Rachel went stride-for-stride with Leventhal in the final quarter mile before pulling away right at the end of the race. Korty's time of 20:59 was just three seconds faster than Tiffany (21:02).

Isabel Slippen of Yorktown Heights (NY) was third with a time of 21:12. She was chased home by Michelle Falzone (22:14) and Faith Howell (23:07).

Looking Ahead

With this year's Firecracker 5K now officially in the books, local runners now turn their focus to other exciting events on the summer distance running schedule.

Next up is the Penny House 5K, which is held each year at Lake Ariel. The 2018 edition of the race is slated for Saturday, July 14 at 9 a.m. All proceeds will benefit the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company.

Following that, we have the final four events in this year's Wayne County 5K Challenge.

This year's races are...

•Dr. William J. Perkins Memorial 5K: Saturday, July 21, Wayne County Fairgrounds.

•Habitat for Humanity “Run for the Roses:” Saturday, August 25 at the Daniel J. O'Neill Sports Complex, Honesdale.

•Wayne County YMCA 5K Run: Saturday, September 15 at the Daniel J. O'Neill Sports Complex, Honesdale.

•Hawley Library “Run to Read” 5K: Saturday, October 6, Bingham Park, Hawley.