Sole Survivors

A full calendar of races kept runners laced up and ready to go

2013 was a busy year chock-full of races for area runners. Starting with the Resolution Run in Syracuse on Jan. 1 and every road race, triathlon and marathon in between, many events brought out the best in racers, young and old. Here are a few highlights and noteworthy achievements from the past 12 months.

We’re No. 1: High school runners representing Section III brought home state titles this past year. Fayetteville-Manlius distance star Nick Ryan, who graduated last June and runs for Syracuse University, won state titles in indoor track (1,600 meters) and outdoor track (3,200 meters).

Other state champions included:

  • Ryan Manahan, a 2013 Marcellus graduate who competes for Georgetown University, won the outdoor track state championship at 800 meters,
  • Nottingham’s 4-by-200 meter relay team sprinted to the indoor track state crown. Relay members were Tayquon Hightower, Jefari Davis, Romeo Kpolo and Sterling Lowry.
  • Junior Bryce Miller of F-M won the Class A individual cross country championship this month while leading his Hornets to a Class A state team title.
  • In cross country, the Tully girls (Class D), F-M girls (Class A) and Holland Patent boys (Class C) earned state team crowns.

He’s the Champ: Last May, Baldwinsville native and SUNY Oneonta runner Sean Bernstein won two NCAA Division III titles. He was a part of the winning 4-by-100-meter relay and earned his second national title by successfully defended his 2012 national title in the 200-meter dash. Bernstein finished his track career at SUNY Oneonta with the most national titles (three) in school history.

Winning Streak: Maegen Krifchin, of DeWitt, won her third straight Dunn Tire Mountain Goat women’s title last May. Krifchin, a former runner at Syracuse University, won the 10-mile race in 57:21. She also holds the all-time race record (55:59). For good measure, Krifchin entered the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge last June for the first time. She won the 3.5-mile race in 19:29.

–M.F. Piraino

Crushing Records: Well-known for it’s ultra-fast course, the Syracuse Festival of Races competition held on Sunday, Oct. 6, saw Kathryn Martin, 62, of Northport come in at 19:06 in the 5K. Martin’s time is a shocking 41 seconds faster than Angela Copson, of Blisworth, England’s current W62 record. Martin, as a result, was named USA Track & Field’s “Athlete of the Week” in recognition or her performance. This also marks the third consecutive year that a performance from the Syracuse Festival of Races has been named “Athlete of the Week” by USATF. It’s the fifth consecutive year the race has produced at least two dozen world-class performances.
Others include: 16:22 finish of Brian Pilcher, 57, of Ross, Calif.; 22:08 finish of Jan Holmquist, 69, of Burlington, Mass.; 23:43 finish of Sue Gardinier, 71, of Verona.

Back to Boston: On April 15 the annual Boston Marathon took place, attracting runners from around the world. But the celebration of this year’s event ended abruptly when two pressure cooker bombs went off on Boylston Street, about 13 seconds and 200 yards apart from the finish of the race. Three people were killed and 264 were injured.
Several Syracuse racers and supporters were present at the event, including Rick Cleary who was there to support his son, Ryan. He was there with his friend, Ron Westbrook, whose wife Laurie was also in the race.
“I go to Boston about every year,” Cleary, 63, says. A runner himself, he’s done the Boston Marathon many times among the 36 marathons he’s completed. “I love going there for the marathon and this year in particular I was having an absolutely great time.”
He and Westbrook were about a half-mile from the finish line when they decided to meet up with their runners who had finished the race. As they were walking up Boylston to the reunion tent, they heard an incredibly loud noise. “It sounded like a cannon shot,” Cleary says. “I knew it wasn’t right. They had never done that.” In the next few seconds, the second went off just around the corner. Had the two kept walking, they would have walked right into the second bomb.
“It was chaotic and surreal,” he recalls. They found Laurie and Ryan and it wasn’t until later on that Cleary felt the impact of what had happened. “It didn’t hit me until I started driving. The enormity of it.” Cleary suffered from a stress disorder following the event, but felt a release when those responsible were discovered and feels more normal now.
“I’m going back next year,” he says definitively. “My son’s gonna run. I’m going back. And I’m purposely going to stand in the exact same spot and follow the same path.”

BMX Triathlete: Dave Mirra is well-known (to put it lightly) in the world of extreme sports as the most decorated BMX rider in the history of the sport. But after an incredible ride to the top of the game, Mirra, a Chittenango native, has branched into other areas of competition–including one of the most demanding races on the planet, the Ironman.
On June 23, Mirra competed in the Syracuse (half) Ironman 70.3 race, which includes a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and (half-marathon) 13.1-mile run. Although Mirra and his family spend most of the year in North Carolina, he spends summers home in Syracuse and got sucked into the triathlon addiction through a competing friend, Eric Hinman. “I would come back to Syracuse and he was always running and biking,” Mirra says. “It caught my eye because of his consistency and no matter the weather conditions, he would be training. I did a bike ride with him while the Syracuse 70.3 was going on and by the end of the summer, I started training under Eric’s coach, Mike Corona.”
Mirra didn’t complete the Syracuse half, but he’s competed in two others and finished with a time of 4:30 in an August, Ga., race, his best to date.
“I plan on five or six half-Ironman distances in 2014 before I step up to the full Ironman distance,” he says. The full race includes an astounding 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and full marathon run (26.2 miles). “I started training last September and I really enjoy the process it takes to adapt to endurance racing. It’s slow and repetitive, but very rewarding.”
For those interested in competing in the Syracuse Ironman 70.3 on June 22, 2014, more information can be found at

–Jessica Novak

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