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Tuesday, July 4, 2000 -- Morgantown, WV
Spirit & Breath Challenge
Story and photos by Marty Lamp

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [5K OA] [5K by Class] [10K OA] [10K by Class] [Walk & Kids]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]

Spirit & Breath
The pack leaves White Park
Morgantown was alive with all kinds of excitement for the 4th of July, and the first big event of the day was the popular Spirit & Breath Challenge. Formerly known as the BOPARC 10K, this USA Track & Field certified race has been going on since 1979, making it easily one of the oldest running races in the area.

For many, the special aspect of this race is the cause it champions, lung cancer. Sponsors for this years race included the Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, and the Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education (ALCASE).

Spirit & Breath
Some extra entertainment
Although this race is for a great cause, it still holds some significant importance to those in search of some MAGP points. Racers had a 10K or a 5K to choose from, but only the 10K was a MAGP race.

The courses are run completely on paved roads, with the 10K course looping from White Park to Marilla Park and back through residential neighborhoods. The 5K course started with the 10K, but wound thorugh the White Park area before finishing at the ice rink in White Park. There were a generous amount of water stops on both courses, and at the finish, eberyone was greeted with some great music.

Spirit & Breath
Scott Smith & Aaron Miller racing to the finish
At a little after 9am, the gun was sounded as over 300 runners took off. In the 5K, it came down to a sprint at the finish for the men. After slowly edging to the front of the 5K pack, Scott Smith(18:52) and Aaron Miller(18:52) were side by side coming into the final 1/2 mile. After a final 100 yard sprint, Smith barely took the win by only 28 hundredths of a second. Dameon Hall(19:03) finished third overall.

The first woman to cross the finish line was the always fast Sara Walker(19:51). Walker finished 5th overall out of 164 entrants in the 5K, and more than a minute ahead of her closest female competitor, Ryan Metheny(20:58). Kavara Vaughn(21:06) finished third overall for the ladies.

Spirit & Breath
Kevin Williams striding home
In the 10K, it was Kevin Williams(34:43) getting the win while keeping a amazing 5:35 per mile pace, which left him finishing among the back of the 5K pack. Williams' closest challenger, Mark Neal(35:42) finished the race 59 seconds later, with Jonathan Wright(35:49) right behind.

Laura Murphy(38:10) led all women to the finish line, and she finished an impressive 8th overall, while holding onto a solid 6:38 per mile pace. Some two minutes later, Rebecca Stallwood(40:05) finished second, and Stephanie Meleady(43:57) finished third. Stallwood and Meleady finished 12th and 22nd overall, respectively.

Spirit & Breath
Some tough competition
Carmello Tabone(36:44) had little problem winning the 5K walk, with Morgantown native Cindy Ponte(38:21) finishing second. The always entertaining 1 mile Kid's Race was full of little winners, but the first one to cross the line was 11 year old Bryant Cummings(6:38).

This was a superbly marked course, and the attention to detail was evident everywhere you looked. Numerous door prizes and awards were handed out afterwards along with free drinks and fruit. Make sure to check out the next MAGP race.