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East Pete native Bailey captures 35th Firecracker Jobes wins fifth women’s crown
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Matt Bailey’s main reason for entering this year’s Ephrata Firecracker Run was to spend some quality running time with his father.
However, once the competitive juices started to flow, he left his father, Richard, and the rest of the field in his tracks.
Bailey, a 24-year-old East Petersburg native, who is currently a molecular biology grad student at the University of Oregon, took over the lead in the second mile and never relinquished it last Wednesday en route to capturing his first-ever Firecracker title.
As soon as he broke the tape, Bailey didn’t stick around to catch a breather. Instead, "I went back out and found my dad and ran the final mile to mile and a half with him. That was a lot of fun," the younger Bailey said.
Bailey crossed the finish line in a winning time of 26:35.89, well ahead of former champions Justin Krebs (27:14.74) and Darryl Weaver (27:21.00), who took second and third respectively. Chris Ecker placed fourth with a time of 27:29.55, while Brad Slaughter was fifth with a time of 27:37.88.
A record field of more than 900 runners competed in stifling hot temperatures that reached the mid-90s for the 35th edition of the race.
"The heat was pretty nasty," Bailey admitted. "But it was a nice rolling course. I enjoyed it. There were some good people out there. It was fun to do."
On the women’s side, Kathleen Jobes earned her fifth Firecracker title, placing ninth overall with a time of 29:20.33. She finished almost two minutes ahead of second female, Erica Pearson, who was the runner-up with a time of 31:10.84. Jolene Collins took third with a time of 31:35.23, while Elizabeth Doherty was fourth (31:54.51) and Brooke Magni fifth (32:27.06).
The 42-year-old wife of Ephrata native Mark Jobes, who was making her return to the Firecracker after competing in the Peachtree race in Atlanta the last few years, said her race was controlled.
"It was hot and I just wanted a good tempo," the resident of Bethlehem said. "It was a good effort. I’ve been doing a lot of 5Ks so today was kind of long, but it was good. I was controlled and within myself but at the end I was glad it was over."
Jobes said she recently placed first in the Master’s Division at Chicago, and took second place in Boston as well in a pair of big 5Ks.
As for Bailey, he’s been training "a lot" recently, running between 60 and 80 miles per week. He added that his first Firecracker win is something he’ll cherish as he heads back to Oregon.
"I haven’t really won many races," he said. "I often get second or fourth…so to get a win today is special."