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Saturday, August 14, 2010 -- Elkins, WV
Kenneth Cunningham Memorial Cross Country Race (iPO Event Id#: 12871)

2010: [Details] [Coverage] [Photos] Results: [5K Overall] [5K by Class] [More Results]

[1999] [2000] [2001] [2003] [2005] [2006] [2007] [2008] [2009]

Cunningham 5-K Series Comes to a Close

Story by Wendy Cunningham-Morgan

Katie Cunningham & Katie Burda
Katie Cunningham and Katie Burda, 1999 Kenneth Cunningham Memorial Race
The 12th and final Ken Cunningham 5-K Memorial Cross-Country Run was held on Saturday, August 14, 2010 on the Davis & Elkins College cross-country course, which was the previous site of West Virginia's State High School Cross-Country Championship.

This race has been held in memory of Ken Cunningham who had an extreme passion for cross-country and road races, especially at the middle school and high school levels.

Ken was from Alpena and ran cross-country for Elkins High School, graduating in 1978. During his senior year, he began working the early morning pre-sort for UPS and became a driver in 1984. Ken's children, Casey and Katie Cunningham, developed his enthusiasm for running.

In 1998, Casey's 7th grade year at Elkins Middle School, a cross-country program was developed as a feeder program to the high school. A parent committee was formed to help sustain and raise funds for the newly established sport for three years, after which the Randolph County Board of Education would take the program over and cross-country would then be a recognized sport at Elkins Middle School. The middle school cross-country program was a off to a start.

Tribute photo
Tribute to Ken and Mom: Charlene Kisner

However, Ken was not to see how much his love of running impacted his family and friends. He was killed in a fishing accident on April 14, 1999 - Casey was in the 8th grade and a member of the varsity team, and Katie, being in the 6th grade and not eligible to participate in the sport at that time, was a member of the cross-country team as manager.

After this tragedy, UPS approached Todd Price, our friend and the coach for the Elkins Middle School cross-country team, about the possibility of a run in Ken's memory with the proceeds to help support both Elkins Middle School and Elkins High School cross-country teams.

The first run was held in September 1999, and has continued to be a very successful "off-road race" with an average of 80-100 runners.

Ken's race was a draw for all runners who enjoyed a challenging course and it served as a warm-up for the middle school and high school cross-country season. The highest number of participants was approximately 170 runners in 2001 when the WV State High School Cross-Country Championship returned to Elkins.

Over the past 12 years, the proceeds from each race have been split between Elkins Middle School and Elkins High School. The parent committee for Elkins Middle School was able to sustain the cross-country program; and in 2001, it became a recognized sport.

Alumni photo
EMS and EHS Cross Country Alumni Katie Burda, Troy Higgins, Katie Cunningham and Katie Smith.
The funds from Ken's race continued to help with the purchase of uniforms, a tent, a printer timer watch, repair and replacement of equipment, transportation and athlete recognition. Elkins Middle School cross-country program continues to train very talented athletes and has proven to be a wonderful feeder program to Elkins High School.

Elkins High School established the Ken Cunningham Memorial Scholarship which has been awarded during the baccalaureate service to graduating cross-country senior/seniors who exemplify athletic and academic excellence and has varied between $400 and $700.

Over the past 11 years, the recipients have been:

  • Ryann Metheny (2000)
  • Zaia Wharton (2001)
  • Chris Daniels (2002)
  • Casey Cunningham and Ashley Varian (2003)
  • Chelsey Metheny (2004)
  • Katie Burda (2005)
  • Heather Saffel (2006)
  • Sydney Metheny and Mija Khan (2007)
  • Alex Zurbuch (2008)
  • Cora Fry (2009)
  • Ben Proudfoot and Chelesi White (2010)

The final Ken Cunningham Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in May 2011.

The decision was made to retire Ken's race when he would have retired from UPS, and on Saturday, August 14, the final race was held, followed by a chicken BBQ sponsored by Elkins Lions Club, family and friends.

Light rain did not dampen the spirits of over 130 athletes and their families who came together to enjoy fellowship and participate in the celebration of life and memories during the day's events, which included a 2-mile Trail Walk, a 400 meter Fun Run for kids 7 yrs. and younger, a 1/2 mile Mini-Cross Country Run for kids 8 to 11 yrs. of age, and the 5-K race.

Jacquelyn Davis and Casey Cunningham
Jacquelyn Davis and Casey Cunningham
The 5-K race featured individual male and female finishes where the results were based on pure talent and fire from within, and included an additional twist consisting of a "team" concept with men and women teams being randomly chosen after last minute registration was closed.

It was noted that athletes who are members of a middle school or high school cross-country team are unable to participate in the random fun teams.

Alex Zurbuch of Elkins, WV, was the first place overall male winner, with a time of 19:14 and Matt Bright, Elkins, WV, was the second place overall male winner.

The first place overall female was Letitia Propst, with a time of 22:25, and second place overall female was Heather Saffel, both of Elkins.

The 1/2 mile Mini-Cross Country Run was won by Madison Radabaugh in the female category, and Jonathan Rhodes in the male category.

In the 2-mile Trail Walk, the overall female was Pat Schumann, Elkins, WV, with a time of 34:00, and Mark Rooper, Scott Depot, WV, in the male category with a time of 24:11.

The random men and women's fun team winners were the "Purple Rain" and the "Mello Yellow" respectively.

Thanks to the following sponsors for their faithful support of Ken's Race:

United Parcel Service and Employees,
International Brotherhood of Teamsters - Local 175,
Rose Summit Stock Farm, Days Inn,
Elkins Physical Therapy & Sports Injury Clinic,
Davis Electric, Mike Ross, Inc.,
Crazy Harry's Country Market & Amish Crafted Furniture,
Kentucky Fried Chicken, Elkins Lion's Club, Sports Unlimited,
Edward Jones Investments,
Propst Realty, Investors Capital - J. Philip Burton, Fairmont, WV,
The Animal Care Center, Frank L. Mams,
DDS and Marciea A. Evick, DDS - General Dentistry, and Busch,
Zurbuch & Thompson, PLLC

Door prizes were provided by:

84 Lumber, Advanced Auto, Elza's Cycle and ATV, Fisher Auto,
Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, TD's T-Shirt, Elkins Motor Sports,
D&E Bookstore, Dairy Queen, Mamma's Kitchen, Glotfelty Tire Center,
Elks Country Club Golf Course, Country Creations, Donation,
Elkins Distributing, Pepsi, and the United States Army.

Series Quilt
One of two Kens Race 12 T-Shirt Series Quilt
Two quilts containing the twelve T-shirts from the Ken Cunningham 5-K Memorial Race series (1999-2010) were donated; one given as the final grand door prize and the other presented to Coach Todd Price for his dedication and support of Ken's Race.

Thank you also to Davis & Elkins College for use of their wonderful cross-country course, and John Eye for taking photos of the days activities.

And, last, but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to our families and great friends. If it were not for these loving people this race would not have happened over the past 12 years.

As in the past, all proceeds will benefit the cross-country programs at Elkins Middle School and Elkins High School.