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Sunday, March 24, 2002 -- Morgantown, WV
Cooper's Rock Challenge 2002 (MAGP #1) (iPO Event Id#: 4834)
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]
[1999 Coverage] [2000 Coverage] [2001 Coverage]

Race Pic
Great day for a run at Cooper's
The mid-week forecasts on Sunday's weather had the outlook for Cooper's Rock 10K pretty nasty. But if you haven't figured out by now, long range weather forecasting is not a very exact science. There was a slight chill in the air and the skies were cloudy, actually perfect weather for a scenic run through Cooper's Rock State Park. And a great way to start off the 2002 Morgantown Area Grand Prix series.

Heading over from Western Maryland was 20-year-old Frostburg State University student Jaron Hawkins who we last saw back in January winning the UNO's Snowflake Chase at Deep Creek Lake. Hawkins' competition on this afternoon would come from Grafton, WV's John Riffle. The 16-year-old high school runner was coming off a strong third overall finish from last week's Grafton 5 Mile Run.

72-year-old Maurice Miller, now there's a rock!
The constant rolling hills of Coopers Rock's out-and-back course always takes its toll. The trip back always seems more brutal than the trip out, and a long hill at the end of the sixth mile does not help. Other than the beautiful scenery and traffic free road, the run does also feature a nice downhill finish, even if it is just the last quarter mile.

It was no surprise to see Hawkins and Riffle quickly gap the rest of the field. The pair kept it close through the first half of the race, but Hawkins pace was too much after the turnaround. Hawkins was able to put a minute on Riffle (35:50) by the time he reached the finish in 34:50.

Race Pic
Breaking out the spring colors
Another local high school runner, Morgantown's Jesse Vernon, held a grip on third place well into the race. But 31-year-old Jason Griffith from Ridgeley, WV, was pacing himself well in pursuit. Vernon had no answer for a strong finish on the final hill by Giffith who pulled ahead and surged to the finish in 36:18. Vernon finished alone in fourth at 36:48.

In the women's field Karin Lockhart, a recent West Virginia University track alumnus, was dominant. Not only did she finish first for the women, she crossed the line an impressive fifth overall at 37:26. Her closest rival was WVU track team senior, Johanna Fisher who found the line in 12th overall at 38:47. Rounding out the top three women was Maureen Hall with a time of 41:33.

Race Pic
And Cooper's Rock gets 2 enthusiastic thumbs-up
Among those participating in the 5K walk, it was Oakland, MD's Suzanne Wilburn who easily out-paced the rest of the crowd. She took the overall win by almost two full minutes with a finishing time of 36:35. For the men it was Elkins' Jeff Goodman who crossed the line first at 40:32.

After the race everyone enjoyed hot and cold beverages along with the usual staggering array of cookies. For the lucky (and just plain good) runners and walkers, there were custom trophies crafted by race director Bob Baker. Each award come complete with their own small version of "The Rock".