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Monday, July 4, 2005 -- Morgantown, WV
Spirit & Breath Challenge (iPO Event Id#: 6759)
Story and photos by Julie Black

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9] [Set 10]

Past Coverage: [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004]

Photo by Julie Black
Patriotic attire everywhere
Thanks to a recent survey printed in the June 2004 issue of Men's Journal, Morgantown, West Virginia was ranked as the third Best Small Town in the country and among the top 50 places to live. On July 4th, the city and it's West Virginia University campus played host to President George Bush who chose Woodburn Circle as the setting for his Independence Day speech. The town was a buzz for nearly a week with all of the preparations for the President's visit, and security was tight, many roads were closed in and around town. Needless to say, "Mo-Town" (as the WVU students like to call it), has been noticed, and was the place to be this July 4th.

But despite the all the uptown activities and political hoop-lah, one of Morgantown's most beloved long-running races still went on without even a hiccup. The Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners of Morgantown (BOPARC) have been hosting the Spirit and Breath Challenge for over 20-years. This Morgantown Area Grand Prix event features a 5K, 10K, and a Kid's Race.

Photo by Julie Black
Close finish for the kids
Since 1999 the event, teamed with Sara Crile Allen & James Fredrick Allen Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center and the Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support and Education (ALCASE), support a great cause"lung cancer treatment and prevention.

The course led racers from White Park to Marialla Park, then back to finish in front of the BOPARC ice rink and ball fields. Both the 5K and 10K courses consisted of paved rolling roads through area neighborhoods. At the start, the early morning humidity hung in the air like a thick fog. A summer haze set in and stayed for the duration of the 5K and 10K making breathing tough in hot conditions.

Photo by Julie Black
Jokers on the course
The 10K 16-20: The title is fitting being that all top three finishers in the 10K were in the 16-20 age group. Looking for a rise in the overall MAGP 2005 Series ranks, Ryan Skotnicki kicked in a 5:42 pace to claim top 10K honors in 35:30. He currently ranks 3rd overall in the series after race seven. Skotnicki has finished in either first or second place in six of the eight series races. Also gaining a lift in the series is Grafton, WV runner, Brandon Miles, who finished second in 37:46. Miles ranks 10th overall in the series. From Bellington, WV, Bryant Cummings rounded out the top spots with 38:21.

5K The Hot Way: Winner of the 2005 Virginia Creeper Marathon and the 2005 Deckers Creek Trail Half-Marathon, Danny Fink of Swoope, VA, distanced himself to win the 5K with a time of 17:31. Two 16-20 age Terra Alta boys battled for second, but in the end the gap widened. Joshua Feather finished 2nd with a time of 18:35 and Jake Anderson (18:55), crossed for third.

Photo by Julie Black
Fun in the sun...
Local runner, Stephanie Meleady, took a commanding lead and never looked back to claim first in the women's division with a 21:32. Also from Morgantown was Debbie Wilson (24:18), who took home the 2nd place honors. Lindsey Lutyens (25:09) of Fairmont, WV finished in third place.

After all of the runners and walkers were in, the kids had their chance to shine in their own race. Thanks to all who helped, volunteered, and to SERJ for their professional timing services.

For the Record: I was told at the race Monday by a fine fellow from Uniontown, PA that some of our stories and recaps are mostly lame at best. Well, this is true to some degree. Only one of our freelance reporters actually writes for a newspaper, but then again, our recaps are mostly there merely as a reference. The write-ups are a snap-hot of the day, and they come in quite handy if you're new to the event and want to get a general feel for it before race day. I've also had many racers tell me that the recap helps them decide which events they're going to do for the year. I don't claim to be a world renowned sports writer in any fashion, but I certainly enjoy doing this in my spare time. Comments are always welcome, yes, even the not-so-good ones. After all, how can you ever improve if you're only looking at your best stuff?