Runner Spotlight

Runner Spotlight: Shelly Perry

HARRC 2010 Robert Mahady Dedicated Female Runner of the Year

Shelly Perry, from Camp Hill, is the Harrisburg Road Runners Club 2010 Dedicated Female Runner of the Year. Shelly makes up what she lacks in speed with her sheer determination and heart. She usually finishes somewhere near the end of the pack, but the key word is finish, this she does in every race she enters. Shelly has completed runs of a couple miles all the way up to and including the half marathon. Last September she completed the Minich Half Marathon in a time of 3:04:48, 5th in her age group and the 2010 Summerfair 10k in a time of 84:48, 4th in her age group and the Run for the Colts 5K in 39:48.

Shelly participated in 17 Sunday club runs running distances from anywhere from 3 miles to 10 miles. The 17 Sunday club runs is not an enormous number but it is when you consider the fact that Shelly has only been running since June of 2010, which means that she has participated in 17 out of the 22 that there are online stats for. She can be seen in most of her races with a short, dark, handsome guy that goes by the name of Chuck. This very energetic, enthusiastic and faithful runner, disguised as a chocolate lab, is her constant companion. He only accompanies her on just all of the shorter runs, 10K range give or take a few, no double digit mileage.

She plans to continue to run half marathons, a little too far yet for her friend Chuck, as she will be running the Chambersburg Half this morning and plans to up her game a notch by running the Gettysburg Marathon in May.

Congratulations to Shelly Perry, HARRC’s 2010 Dedicated Female Runner of the Year!

Runner Spotlight: Mike Cassata

HARRC 2010 Robert Mahady Dedicated Male Runner of the Year

The Harrisburg Area Road Runners 2010 Dedicated Male Runner of the Year is Mike Cassata. Mike is originally from Johnstown, that in itself should be enough to win him this award, but there is much more. Mike is a quiet, unassuming, and very steady runner who is very comfortable in races anywhere from the mile to the half marathon. He has been running for a number of years, starting in his twenties with a few years off here and there while being distracted by that nasty four letter word, “work’, like a lot of older runners didn’t get real serious about road racing until later in life. In 2010 he ran the infamous Chambersburg Half Marathon, anybody who has run this race knows the level of difficulty is off the charts, especially when Mother Nature has a hand in it. Mike did the 2010 wet, hilly and very windy race in 2:07:52, 172nd overall and 7th in his age group. He showed his favoritism for this distance by running the Harrisburg Half in September in a time of 2:03:43, 10th in his age group, and the hilly Minich Half in October in a time of 2:07:00, 3rd in his age group. Mike also showed his diversity by running the Summberfair 10K in Carlisle in a time of 55:11, 7th in his age group and the Harrisburg Mile in a time of 7:36, also 7th in his age group.

Mike, a very friendly and social guy, attended many club functions in 2010 which include 24 Sunday club runs and numerous Saturday training runs. Some of his top runs for the Sunday club runs are: 5 miles – 43:59: 4 miles – 34:28; 5K – 25:38; 10K – 56:10.

Mike also enjoys a seasonal event, where he is an avid supporter and participant in the area’s amateur ice hockey events.

Congratulations to Mike Cassata for being HARRC’s 2010 Dedicated Male Runner of the Year!

Runner Spotlight: Debbie Whittle

John W. Kennedy Dedicated Member of the Year

Debbie Whittle is the Harrisburg Road Runners Club 2010 Dedicated Member of the Year. Deb is a very dedicated club member. She shows up to help at a lot of area races if not walking in them. She walked in 14 of the Sunday Club events, in addition she was assistant Race Director for another 8 Sunday races. In the Sunday runs that she and Steve direct she always has a table set up with cookies, coffee and other things to eat and drink. She always has a smile on her face and is easy to engage in casual conversation.

Congratulations to Deb Whittle, HARRC’s 2010 Dedicated Member of the Year!

Runner Spotlight: Mary Lou Harris

HARRC 2010 Female Runner of the Year

Mary Lou Harris is the Harrisburg Road Runners Club 2010 Female Runner of the Year. Mary Lou, a veteran distance runner, usually finishes in the top three of her age group in most races she enters. Mary Lou, who lives in Camp Hill, we won’t hold that against her, runs in a variety of road races over the year including the Harrisburg Marathon which she has run in four times. Her marathon times have been very consistent over the years, finishing the 2010 Harrisburg Marathon in 4:39:52 (2nd in age group). She ran three other Harrisburg Marathons, 2009 in 4:34:16 (3rd in age group), 2006 in 5:02:14 (3rd in age group) and 2003 in 4:33:22 (2nd in age group). In September she ran the Minich Half Marathon in a time of 2:03:44, finishing first in her age group and setting a new age group record. On the other end of the race spectrum, she also ran the Harrisburg Mile in the time of 8:02, finishing 1st in her age group. Mary Lou, a long time runner, didn’t start to run marathons until late in her running career. When asked how many marathons she has run she says about 15 or 16. She says about the only reason she keeps track at all is just to answer this very question. She will soon run in the Gansett Marathon in Narragansett, Rhode Island on April 16th, this will be her 15th or 16th marathon, or maybe 17th marathon, but then who’s counting?

Mary Lou, a pleasant soft spoken lady with a constant smile, participated in 15 Sunday club runs which include hosting two of them. Some of her best times at the Sunday runs are: 5 miles – 43:07; 4 miles – 33:51; 5K – 26:17.

She also enjoys down hill skiing, cross country skiing and snow shoeing, not a big surprise after spending a number of years living in the Buffalo area.

Congratulations to Mary Lou Harris for winning the HARRC 2010 Female Runner of the Year Award!

Runner Spotlight: JR Bishop

HARRC 2010 Male Runner of the Year

Joseph (JR) Bishop, who hails from Dillsburg, is the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club Male Runner of the Year for 2010. JR, who is a fairly recent club member, participated in a variety of road races last year. Only running for about a year and a half, he continues to improve with just about every
race at distances ranging from the 5K to the half marathon. He ran the Hershey Half Marathon in October, finishing with a time of 1:46:38 and in the top 300 out of a field of roughly 2000 runners. His Hershey effort represented a significant improvement from his performance in June at the Dover Half
Marathon. There he finished with a time of 2:07 – a respectable effort for his first half marathon!

JR is an enthusiastic and approachable individual who is busily involved in club activities. Last year he participated in 26 Sunday club runs as either a runner or a host. That is well over 50% of the Sunday events for which we have results. His 2010 Sunday run times have markedly improved over the year. In the 5 mile runs he shaved off over eight minutes to go from 45:25 down to 38:03. In the 4 mile events he dropped more than 5 minutes to plummet from 34:23 to 29:05. Some of his other personal bests include 22:27 in the 5K and 90 minutes in the 10 mile distances. JR’s wife Melody and their dog Griffin will occasionally run with him, including at some of the Sunday Club runs.

Presently, JR is recovering from a stress fracture, so his running is temporarily curtailed. He is keeping fit by walking Griffin and chasing his three cats around the house. I’m sure it won’t be long before he is once again out on the roads setting new PRs.

Congratulations to JR Bishop for winning the 2010 HARRC Male Runner of the Year Award!

Runner Spotlight: Sean Morgan

Fourteen Year Old Sean Morgan Finishes 35th Out Of 185 Men In The Ocean City Factory Outlets Half Marathon

Sean started running in 2003 by running in the Harrisburg mile and finished 3rd in the 10 and under age group with a 6:57 and ran in his first 5K at Elco High School and finished 2nd in 22:53.

He has continued to run in the Harrisburg mile and some 5K’s and 10K’s since. He won 1st place in 6th and 7th grade in the 2 mile run at Good Hope Middle school. In the fall of 2005, he joined the Cumberland Valley Cross Country team and really enjoyed the season, especially the coed part. By 8th Grade, school soccer won out over cross country though. His last 10K race was the very hilly Newport Turkey Trot where he ran a 44:50. Sean started running more regularly with HARRC in 2006 when it didn’t conflict with soccer and lacrosse.

Sean won the HARRC age group championship in 2006. After helping HARRC at the Harrisburg Marathon in 2006 and seeing several 15 year olds run, he had the itch to do one himself, but he was convinced to settle on a half marathon and see how he does with that. He started training in January for the 2007 Ocean City MD Half Marathon. It wasn’t easy getting miles in with indoor soccer and an indoor lacrosse clinic on every Sunday morning, but he still did pretty well with the training.

Race day came around and the weather was typical for this spring, 30 degrees, 15-20 mph wind and snowing. He ran a good race and finished very strong with the last 5 miles being under 8:00 min and mile 13 clicked off in 6:40. He finished in 1:43:27. Sean was 49th overall out of 419 total runners, 35th out of 185 men and 7th in the 19 and under age group. He plans on running in the Harrisburg Half Marathon this year and his goal is to run in the Boston Marathon at 18 and beat his dad’s Boston time of 3:16.

Runner Spotlight: Don Halke

The 2005 Western States Endurance Run

by Don Halke

Several years ago, I got it in my mind to try to run 100 miles. In 2003, I achieved that goal by running the Mohician 100, which is held in Loudonville Ohio. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I looked at friend and told him, never again! That feeling lasted for a day or two, until I started thinking about trying to get into the Western States Endurance Run (WS). But being a wee bit crazy, I thought it would be really exciting to run with the likes of Gordy Ainsleigh, who started it all, running alone when his horse was injured and unable to run the distance, and also run with other super humans like Tim Twietmeyer and Scott Jurek.

To be selected for the WS, I needed to have a qualifying time in a 50 mile or 100 race, and then be selected in a lottery process. The lottery is a very big production resembling something like the NFL draft. It is held at the Placer High School, in Auburn California. In 2003, I sent my entry in for the drawing but was not selected to compete. I ran another race, which qualified me for the lottery in 2004, and I was selected. Some of my California running friends, Ken and Ellen Crouse, went to the lottery so they could be the ones to call me to give me the great news. I was so excited.

It turned out that I was one of 5 runners from PA selected to run the WS. Another runner, Marcia Peters, who once shared her lunch runs with me before taking a job in a different city, was also selected. After a local newspaper covered the story of Marcia and I being selected for the WS, Marcia called me. It had been 20 years since we had spoken and we had a lot of stories to share. Marcia invited me to join her and some of her friends from the Lancaster running community for some training runs. She is a much more proficient trail runner than I am and was a great training partner for me.

Running ultra’s requires a lot of training and a lot of help from training partners. I had the fortune to have Marcia and several other very loyal friends, Carol Varano, Ellen Sigl and Elizabeth West, to keep me out on the trails to get the “time on feet”necessary to finish a 100 mile race. Since WS is run in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we needed to be prepared for long climbs, long descents and extreme temperature changes. My training partners trained with me in all kinds of terrain and in all weather conditions, including snow.

Finally, after 7 months of earnest training, it was time to head to California. This was a very special race for me and I was overwhelmed by all the support I had received and wishes of success from so many that have never run and many who are now too old to even try. I felt like I was running for an entire community and they were watching. And many people were watching, through their computers. WS had a webcast of racers positions that would be updated throughout the event. Many friends stayed up until late Saturday night following Marcia and my progress.

We arrived in Squaw Valley on Wednesday, June 22. On each of the three days preceding the race, informational meetings were held about the course, course conditions, crewing instructions, medical advisories and registration and medical check in. On Thursday, there is a trek up the mountain to Emigrant Pass for a flag raising ceremony and a reflection of the loved ones that have passed off the trail since last year. It was a very moving presentation and reminded everyone that just because we run, we are not immortal.

On Friday the registration is held, as well as a brief medical exam. The race directors require everyone to get weighed before and during the race. They monitor each runner for weight loss during the event, which could signal dehydration or renal problems. I never imagined that this would cause me problems during the race, but it did. By the way, the premiums are two shirts, coffee mug and a North Face back pack customized with the WS logo!

The race started at 5:00 AM. This is truly a trail race. The only roads were several to pass through two small villages and then for about a mile into the finish line. The race began by running up the ski slope of Squaws Valley. Like in the Wizard of Oz, don’t just follow other runners, follow the yellow ribbons! The lights were on to guide the way. By 5:30 the sun was beginning to brighten the sky as we were almost half way to the summit, which is approximately 9000 feet. After about 4.5 miles we crested Escarpment and began rolling along side the mountain, usually on snow. The first 28 miles had a good deal of snow, which was very hard and icy. Most runners fell at least a few times. Marcia and I proved to be good running partners through this country. We reminded each other about taking our electrolyte capsules and about when we should be taking our GU…also we kept a close eye out for of the yellow ribbons! At about this point, we saw a group of runners that had followed the wrong footpath, not the yellow ribbons, and had gone off trail. Unfortunately. They had to come back up a steep snow covered hill.

My wonderful wife, Melanie, was going to crew for me until the 62-mile point. At that time, my pacer, Paul would join me. Paul lives in the Auburn area and he volunteered to pace.

Marcia and I saw our crews for the first time at Robinson Flat (24.6 miles) and then again at Little Bald Mountain (28.6 miles). Although there had been other aid stations, it was nice to see a familiar face. At that point, Marcia and I were running comfortably and were under the 24-hour pace. But that was before the canyons. The beautiful canyons in WS are legendary. From Robinson Flat (elevation 6730) you drop into Deep Canyon (elevation 4800 feet) in 4 miles. Then you climb Last Chance( elevation 4200) only to drop into Deadwood Canyon (elevation 2800). Over the next 1.7 miles you climb 36 switch backs to Devils Thumb (elevation 4365), then drop to El Dorado Creek in 5.1 miles (elevation 1700), then climb7 switchbacks to Michigan Bluff, less than 3 miles away, elevation 3530 feet.

As Marcia and I entered the various aid stations, I started to get warnings about my weight loss. The officials would hold my water bottles and not return them until I ate and drank in front of them. Although I was drinking one or two 20 oz bottles of fluid every 5 – 7 miles, I was losing too much weight. But I was feeling full and it was difficult to drink more. Marcia thought this was funny…me losing weight! At the worse, I had loss 9 pounds and was in real jeopardy of being pulled from the race.

Marcia was always able to run down trails faster than me. Somewhere between Devils Thumb (47.8 miles) and El Dorado Creek( 52.9 miles) I was trying to catch up when I took an incredible fall and caught my right foot. It immediately screamed at me and began to swell. At about this time, something else also began to happen to me. I started to have a little problem with dizziness. It was very strange. I knew something was happening to me but could not understand it or explain it. I remember telling Marcia my foot was hurt, but cannot recall if she said anything. I recall seeing another friend, who passed me. Marcia was already ahead of me, heading towards Michigan Bluff. I do not remember how I got there or anything about the aid station. I recall Melanie was there, as well as Marcia’s husband, Larry, and pacer, Dave. I remember them getting me to sit in chair. I was dizzy and could not think clearly or explain what was wrong. Melanie told me later that I kept telling her that something was wrong, but I would not explain what it was. Somehow I got up and walked to the next aid stations, Bath Road and then Foresthill’s. I don’t think I ever ran. And looking at the elapsed times between these aid stations, I probably walked the entire time. I cannot recall Bath Road Aid Station at all.

As I approach Foresthill’s, my pacer, Paul, joined me and walked me into the aid station. I was never very interested in having a pacer, but with this race, it is an excellent idea. Besides the dangers of falling off a path, they are rattle snakes, bear and an occasional mountain lion. ((I actually saw a rattlesnake on the course.)

At Foresthill’s, I was weighed and came close again to being held. I had my foot taped by a doctor. She taped it tight with medical tape and duct tape. I could barely fit into my shoe and could not tie it, only knot it with the very ends of the laces. I do remember the doctor suggesting I get my foot x-rayed.

I could not think clearly and never went to Melanie to get my night gear. Paul made me stop and say good night to her and she then headed for the hotel. Melanie told me the next day that I arrived at Foresthills at about 9:30PM. This is the 62 mile point and from here we will drop dramatically to an elevation of well below 1000 feet. This was going to be very important to me for me to continue the race.

Melanie had explained to Paul that I was not acting right. Paul was pretty sure that I had suffered altitude sickness. He knew if I would be able to get to lower altitude and take it easy for a few hours I would be fine. I don’t remember much of the first few miles with Paul. I recall looking at my watch and seeing 18 hours 18 minutes being counted, which put us at 11:18PM. I recall doing the numbers again in my head, splits needed. I told him if we can reach 70 mile point before 1 AM, we only need to do 3 miles per hour to make it before the cut off. He asked me to repeat what I had said. He asked me how I was feeling. I told him that except for my right ankle/foot, I was feeling great. Then Paul started to laugh. He said that I had been rambling for the past hour or so and he had to hold most of the conversation. My mind had cleared and I was back in the race! It was really amazing.

I continued to have difficulty running downhill, especially with my foot taped so tightly. I was able to put a burst on the dirt road that lead to the river crossing at Rucky Chucky, and the to power walk the hill up to Green Gates. Somewhere around the 90 mile mark, I told Paul that we needed insurance. I asked him how fast he could run. I started to run, fast. I ran pass many runners. Paul asked if I saw their faces, I didn’t even try to look. My ankles hurt so bad, all I wanted to do was run fast and get as many miles in before it gave out completely. We made it to Highway 49, after passing many runners who were left wondering where we came from. Paul estimated we were running at about a 7:30, which seems fast when you are on a trail 90 miles into a race.

I was able to make one stronger surge up a hill, destroying a few more runners, crossing over a meadow and down a long trail towards No Hands Bridge, until I fell again. Once again I caught my foot on a root. After this fall, I was only able to run short bursts of a few hundred feet at a time. Fortunately we were at the 94-95 mile point.

Paul and I power walked up past Robie Point, towards the Placer High School track and the finish. About a mile from the track, my friend Ken Crouse came and took pictures of Paul of me. Ken has run the WS twice and it was very nice seeing him and talking with him as I approached the stadium.

As I entered the stadium, I gave one last burst. My name was announced and photos were being taken of my new friend, Paul and me. I asked if anyone was closing and he told me that I needed to pick up my pace. There were 4 people on the track! I was flying and pictures showed both feet off the ground.

I finished at 28 hours 32 minutes 12 seconds, in 246 place. Tim Tweitmeyer, who had run the race in 18 hours presented me with a medallion and hung it around my neck. I was a member of the WS club. A finisher!

I was immediately led away for a medical evaluation of blood pressure, weight and blood testing. The testing is to determine risk of renal failure by measuring the CPK protein. Almost every year people end up at the hospital after this race with renal shut down. Melanie and my friend Ellen, who I had not seen since 1999, came over to me. Ken, Paul and his wife Christina all gathered around. Christina was so moved she asked if she could give me a hug. (She did, despite my 100 miles of perspiration and trail dirt.) The emotions at that moment were overwhelming.

I sat on the ground, in the shade, enjoying a Coke and for the first time in 28 hours, not moving!

And I thought of all those people back home who had there fingers crossed and held up prayers that I would make it. And I thought of the 88 year old friend who told me that she was so proud of me for trying. I sat there at the finish, realizing it wasn’t the destination that was important, but the endless training and continuous struggle on the trail to get there. And I thought how blessed I am to have all these friends and family that shared in this experience….

One final note: Marcia finished with a 27:37 and was 208th place, out of 400 starters, 318 finishers. She is a great trail runner, a fantastic training partner, and a very special friend.

Runner Spotlight: Jeff White “The Golden Run”

The Golden Run

by Jim Honchar

Gold. One of the strongest metals on earth. A measure of wealth, power and fortune. For thousands of years, gold has been the standard to measure worth. The number 50 has often been linked with the gold standard. When we reach our 50’s, we are approaching our golden years. Gold is the symbol for 50th anniversaries. Many often retire in their 50’s ending a successful career with a gold watch.

For legendary HARRC runner Jeff White, 50 was both a milestone and a goal. His goal was to complete 50 marathons before age 50. On April 25, 2004 he did just that, with 5 months to spare.

Jeff, a native of Youngstown Ohio, returned to his home State to run his 50th marathon in Cleveland, the site where 20 years earlier, he set a PR in the Marathon running a blistering 2:39.

Jeff’s 50 marathons span a 26-year running career. Equally impressive is that many of his 50 marathons are sub-three hour marathons. It is significant to point out that he did not run a marathon during an eight-year period due to a chronic heel injury, which ultimately required surgery. When he returned to the marathon scene, he returned with a vengeance. With one exception, all of his marathons since his surgery have been sub-3:15 marathons.

Jeff’s consistency and determination define the long distance runner – ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary feats. In his quiet, unassuming way, Jeff has always been the leader of the Saturday morning runs from the City Island and the nightly runs at the YMCA. He never gives unsolicited running advice. Even when others approach him for advice, rather than lecture, he will say “this is what I do”. Those who have followed his advice and training have prospered. Those who have not, have usually regretted it.

I had the privilege of running with Jeff for the last 9 years and running with him in Cleveland during his 50th marathon. This was Jeff’s day. Much of the crowd called out to Jeff by his bib number or the logo on his legendary Adidas singlet (just about as old as Jeff!) On one occasion, a gentleman in the crowd yelled out “Number 1711 my money is on you!” Jeff didn’t realize at first the man was talking about him. He looked down at his bib and said “Hey that’s me!) Though we ran most of the course together, at Mile 21 he pulled away from Jeff Brent and me with a spring in his step as if he were running his PR run 20 years ago. It was a joyful site. It was if all the years of training, the heartaches, the injuries, and the 49 prior marathons were being re-lived in the last couple miles of his 50th. He looked back for a moment at the last water stop and I just waived to him to go on. We couldn’t keep up with him. On this day, no one could.

Congratulations Jeff on your golden run, and we wish you as much success in your next 50 marathons.

Runner Spotlight: Mark Sullivan

Mark Sullivan runs his 100th marathon!


Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club Marathon Runner Mark Sullivan

Mark ran his first marathon, the Harrisburg National Marathon on November 9, 1986, 17 years ago.

On November 9, 2003, Mark Sullivan ran his 100th marathon at the 31st Annual Select Medical Harrisburg Marathon. He placed second in the Men’s Masters category, first in his age group and seventh overall in this year’s marathon.

Mark was given the Director’s award by Race Director Mary Alice McClintock at the awards ceremony following the race, then he celebrated with family and friends.

Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club Marathon Runner Mark Sullivan
Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club Marathon Runner Mark Sullivan