McNally, Shertzer claim ‘Cracker crowns Race has record number of finishers
TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
Vince McNally is a decorated local runner who once won a State 1600 meter title and went on to a distinguished career at Penn State.
Now, the Conestoga Valley grad can add Firecracker champion to his resume.
Last Thursday in the 36th edition of the Ephrata Firecracker Run, the 23-year-old Mt. Joy resident made his move at the four-mile mark, and left the rest of the record field in his dust to claim his first Firecracker title in a time of 26:54.1.
McNally finished nearly 16 seconds faster than runner-up Matt Marcini (27:10.0). Former champion Justin Krebs (27:53.6), Andrew Friesema (28:06.6) and Harrison Schettler (28:10.9) rounded out the top five.
Following the win, McNally gave his thoughts on the annual Fourth of July race, the 90 degree temperature, as well as his win.
"I’ve never run it before," he said moments after crossing the finish line. "It was good. It was tough. It was muggy out there, and the sun was out in the beginning so that was a scorcher for a little while. The clouds did take over but we were warmed up by that point…It was pretty hot."
On the women’s side, another first-time champion was crowned as 33-year-old Emily Shertzer (20th overall) of Jonestown finished in a winning time of 30:52.8.
Jenn Cronin placed second with a time of 31:21.6, while Jen Galfano (32:14.6), Vicki Boyer (34:04.7) and Kristin Kopp (34:13.5) took third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Shertzer, a Lower Dauphin and Moravian College grad who is in the National Guard, said she enjoyed her first race experience at the Firecracker.
"I was impressed by how many people there were," She said following her win. "The course was good. It was tough. A friend of mine lives in this area and she warned me about it. I knew it was going to be a tough course, and it was. But I enjoyed it."
As mentioned above, a record 836 runners completed the five-mile course while 130 took part in the two-mile fun run.
For the first time in its 36-year history, the Firecracker used "chip timing," which gives the runner his or her time instantaneously.
That system proved to be a hit.
"It’s hard to say the reason why we had so many runners, but I’m pretty sure (‘chip timing’) is what helped us," Merv Witmer, who helped coordinate the race, said.
McNally said he was at or near the lead from the beginning. However, he did face some challenges along the way.
"(Former champion) Daryl Weaver (seventh place) was on my shoulder and some times ahead of me for at least the first mile-and-a-half," McNally said. "Then I started hitting some hills. I dropped back but they kind of dropped back too. I just tried to run smooth the whole way and I think I did that for about four miles, then it got a little challenging. I wanted to put a little distance between us."
Which is exactly what he did, breaking the 25-minute mark by just a few seconds.
"I was glad I could come away with a win today," he added. "It’s fun to come out here and put a good effort into it. My time was definitely not my best but it was still a good effort. And that’s kind of what I’m looking for right now."
Like McNally, Shertzer, whose last race prior to Thursday’s was the National Guard marathon in Lincoln, Nebraska in May, felt some heat from other runners early on before breaking away.
"Through the first mile there was a girl in front of me," she said. "We went through pretty quick so I was happy to let her go. And then I caught up to her somewhere between (miles) one and two, and after the two-mile mark, I started to pull away."
For a complete list of finishers, turn to page B-2.
More RACE, page B-3