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Saturday, June 22, 2002 -- Fairmont, WV
Run to Read 15K/5K (iPO Event Id#: 4833)
Story by Jim Woolfitt with photos by Julie Black

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

Run to Read Races & Family Fun Day 2002

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Off to the races in Fairmont
It is hard to imagine but in the early 1980's West Virginia high school track and cross country runners were not permitted to run in road races. (Those who did could lose their eligibility) A hard running young attorney, Tod Kaufman, and a running legend, Carl Hatfield, who helped prepare legal briefs, successfully went to bat for a South Charleston high school runner. "The rest" as they say "is history." (High school runners now run in road races with no concerns about losing eligibility). Those two, Kaufman and Hatfield, were reunited Saturday morning in the streets of Fairmont for the Run to Read 15K

Kaufman, now a Kanawha County circuit judge, served as race starter. Another Charleston runner, Tom Pearcy, offered a prayer prior to the 7:30am start. 68 runners completed the 15K, a record number of finishers for this event. The weather really cooperated this year. The sun was shining but temperatures were still in the 60's at the start of the 15K.

Justin Simpson, who collected state championships in cross country and in the 3200 in track while running at Oak Glen High School, defeated defending champion Larry Taylor in the 15K. Larry lead for a little over 5 miles until Justin passed him. After that he used a surge and started gapping Larry mile by mile. Simpson ran 51:46 on the newly certified 15K course which was basically the same as last year's. Standout Grafton cross country runner John Riffle finished 3rd in a time of 55:23.

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A beauty morning for some running
Beth Godwin, from Gainesville, FL, finished 8th overall and was the first female finishing in 59:29. Clara Grandt, one of the many runners Saturday who will return to high school in the fall to run cross country (having benefited from the efforts of Kaufman and Hatfield), was the second female in the 15K. Clara was also second in last year's state cross country meet while running as a freshman for Doddridge County High School. Her time was 1:07:41. Last year's runner-up, Carol Davis of Clarksburg, improved her time by 46 seconds (1:08:55) but finished third this year.

The next event was the 5K race walk (the walk was formerly only 1 lap of the 5k course) which began at 9am. The walkers were the first to officially experience the new and certified 5K course, which is still a double loop like the 15K. This course has only 30 feet of elevation difference between the low and high points on the course.

Fred Detwiller of New Martinsville was the first walker to finish with a time of 36:11. Connie Lewis of Hillsville, VA, breaking the 40 minute barrier in 39:19, was the first female finisher. Fairmont's John Russell kept his streak going by completing his fourth Run to Read race walk in 49:38.

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And some fun walking, too
Next up was the 5K which started at 9:15am. The temperature started to heat up which no doubt made for slower times. Youth prevailed in the 5K as both the first 4 male finishers and the first 4 female finishers were all under 20. Josh Simpson kept the 5K crown in the family (brother Justin won it last year) finishing in 16:43. Robert Roby followed in 17:29 and John Riffle took third in the 5K just as he did in the 15K. Riffle's time was 17:50. North Marion's standout cross country runner, Josh Mason, was fourth in the 5K finishing under 18 minutes with a time of 17:57.

Heather King won the ladies side of the 5K finishing in 22:47. King was a key member of some outstanding cross country and track teams while attending Fairmont West. Thirteen year old Emily Corley was second in a time of 23:54 followed closely by Ritchie County High School's Kristina Watson with a time of 23:59 and Hollie Haddox, a former teammate of Watson's, who finished in 24:03. Watson earned all-state honors at last year's state cross country meet.

The fourth event of the day, the fun run, attracted a record twenty participants. The fun run started the same time as the 5K but was only one loop. Rosalba Ovale, a native of Columbia, who was named West Virginia's ESL (English as a second language) student of the year for 2001, participated in the fun run along with her daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

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Everybody was giving 100%
The fifth "event" the combined 20K included 14 runners who complete both events. John Riffle, also an all state cross country runner last fall, added to his collection of awards with his win in the combined event. Jeff East, Robert Boston and Michael Brossenne finished second, third and fourth respectively. Brossenne has completed all Run to Read events offered so far: four 5K's and three 15K's. Joni Currey, Stephen Griswold, Mark Hamilton, Robert Steele, James Watkins, Rod Whiteman and Michael Wilson all have streaks going in the 5K, having finished all four years.

Harold Sims, a Civil War re-enactor and Marion County LVA board member, gave a literal bang to the start of all three events by firing his pistol.

After all the running and walking, participants enjoyed a bountiful spread of food and drinks. Many scanned the list of random prize winners to see if they won a 24K gold plated ornament or other items. Some participants headed to the Wave Pool at 11am for a real "cool down."

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Be sure to join in next year!
Run to Read Races and Family Fun Day organizers thank all the runners and walkers for participating in our event. We thank all the hard working volunteers who make this event a reality and our many sponsors.

Race organizers vow to keep the courses unchanged for the next nine years, the length of the certification period, and plan to retain Runner's High for efficiently processed timing and results. Organizers do plan a change in tee shirts, which we think our participants will appreciate. Start planning for next year's event as we'll be working hard to make it even bigger and better.