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Saturday, May 5, 2001 -- Parkersburg, WV
RCR Series 2 - Erickson All-Sports Challenge 2001 (iPO Event Id#: 3411)
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Pic Set 4] [2000 Coverage]

Race Start
The 2001 Erickson All-Sports Challenge
The Erickson All-Sports Challenge was established for two principle reasons. The first was to help raise funds to complete the Erickson All-Sports Facility, a state-of-the-art track and sports facility located in South Parkersburg. The second was to bring some quality road racing to South Parkersburg since most of the racing seems to take place on the north side of town.

Under the direction of Dr. Tracy Hendershot and the River City Runners, the second annual All-Sports Challenge succeded at both goals. With a new 5K course laid out, even more volunteers and sponsors helping out, and a much bigger crowd than the previous year, everything was set for some great racing. With 26-year-old female pro Heather Bury (Saucony/PowerBar) lining up at the starting line, it was certain that some great racing would follow.

Heather Bury
Heather Bury puts the women out in front
The new course started with a 3/4-lap on the rubberized surface of the 400-meter, eight lane, all-weather, stadium track. Then it was on to a quick up-hill exit out of the stadium and on to the roads. The first mile was a bit of an uphill grade before entering the neighborhoods of South Parkersburg. From there it was a short loop before heading back on the same route, mostly downhill now, for a finish back where they started.

With the Mayor of Parkersburg giving everyone the starting signal, it was 42-year-old Mike Black leading the field around the track and out of the stadium. Black's lead wouldn't hold long as Parkersburg South High School track runner Mike Massey soon took up the lead position with several more runners jockeying for positions up front.

The patient Bury slowly moved through the field and kept Massey within stricking distance through the second mile. The third mile Bury made her move and took the race lead with Massey on her heels. Meanwhile, another Parkersburg South runner, Michael Hissan moved ahead of the 13-year-old Matt Lilly for the third position. But he would only be able to watch the leaders as they pushed the gap through the final mile.

Curtin & Whitecotton
Paula Curtin drops her competition at the finish
As they hit the track for the final sprint to the finish, Massey felt the effects of the previous day's Russ Parsons Invitational meet where he had run two events. Bury simply put down the hammer to take the overall win in 16:58 with Massey finding the line at 17:11. Hissan took third at 17:32, with Black (17:54) finishing strong to take fourth overall just ahead of Lilly (17:58).

Just to show that a female overall winner was no fluke, the 5K walkers were led to the finish by 37-year-old Paula Curtin (30:33). Curtin, in her first full year of race walking, entered the track with seasoned veterans Terry Whitecotton and Bernard Fries. But that's when Curtin turned on the burners and left the men to battle for second.

Winning this battle was the 47-year-old Whitecotton (30:35), who beat Fries (30:42), his 69-year-old rival, for the first time. Whitecotton has been training with Curtin and said "She's been at it for less than a year, but you can see the potential is there."

Granddad & Grandson
Win or lose, the boys still had fun
Everyone who finished was treated to plenty of refreshments on what was a beautiful morning to be outside. With women now holding both the 5K walk and 5K run course records, you can be sure the competition will be back next year to try and settle the score.

A big thanks goes out to all the participants who helped support the Erickson All-Sports Facility. And remember, it wouldn't be possible with out the help of the many volunteers and the generous sponsorship of folks like Healthsouth, Wide Open MRI, Results Radio, State Farm Insurance - Dan McPherson, Mineral Wells Chiropractic, Worthington Center Inc., Fastners & Supply Inc., Doctor's Optical Corp., Chick-Fil-A, Pepsi, and Upper Cuts Hair Care Salon.