Weaver, Magni earn Firecracker titles
Daryl Weaver got off to the start he wanted Friday in the rain at the 37th annual Ephrata Firecracker Run.
The 41-year-old Lititz resident jumped to the lead right from the gates, and built on it as he navigated through the first mile of the re-configured course. But after he scaled the early hill of S. State Street, Weaver felt a twinge in his calf as he descended toward Main St. and the final three-and-a-half miles.
“I pulled a muscle right after the hill,” Weaver said following the race. “The second half of the race it was really hurting so I had to back off the pace.”
Fortunately for him, his “backed-off” pace was still good enough as Weaver limped home with his second career Firecracker title with a winning time of 26:31.7.
“I was hoping for closer to 26 (minutes) but it just didn’t happen,” he said. “I actually led the whole time. I was running my own pace and I didn’t really push the hill hard. But soon after I got up over the top of the hill I felt something fly into my calf so I’m not sure what the deal is. I just had to dial it back just a little bit.”
Weaver, who won the 2010 Firecracker, was still almost a half minute in front of his nearest competitor as recent Ephrata High graduate Sam Wolde finished second with a time of 26:57.4. Josh Pardoe was third in a time of 27:14.1, while Harrison Schettler (27:16.5), Andrew Friesema (27:20.7), Nathaniel Pardoe (27:26.4), Andrew Yoder (27:49.4), Ryan Spangler (27:55.4), Tim Schuler (28:16.1) and Brad Sweigart (28:17.7) rounded out the top 10 finishers.
“I certainly didn’t expect to win it,” Weaver said. “But I’m always happy with a win.”
On the women’s side, 32-year-old Brooke Magni of Millersville is just enjoying the competition again after giving birth to her second child last year. Running in her third or fourth Firecracker (in her estimation), Magni said she noticed at the beginning of the fourth mile that she was ahead comfortably. And she cruised home to her first Firecracker victory from there, posting a winning time of 31:56.2.
“I think by about the 5K mark I was pretty well ahead,” she said. “To be honest with you, I was just kind of training for pace time. It was just kind of nice to be able to go out and run and not pay attention to anyone else and just sort of watch kind of what I was doing. I wasn’t expecting to win it at all, so that was great.”
Magni, the 36th overall finisher, placed well ahead of runner-up Erin Mullican who took second with a time of 32:47.0. Kristin Kopp (33:08.7), Jess Gockley (33:18.4) and Kristen Groff (33:38.3) rounded out the top five for the women.
“It was kind of a perfect day,” Magni said when asked what the difference was for her this time. “To be honest with you it wasn’t 900 degrees like it usually is on July 4. That helped…it was just sort of the perfect day to be honest with you.”
In addition to the rainy weather, which kept things cool, the other hot topic Friday was the new course, which was incorporated this year due to the turf project going on at War Memorial Field. Starting and ending in Grater Park, this year’s race was less hilly, but still had some bite to it.
“It was good,” Weaver said after his win. “I actually think I liked it better than the other one. I’d say it’s about the same. The one thing that was nice was it was a little bit more downhill at the end…it was kind of nice to be able to finish strong.”
Magni said she really couldn’t recall too much of the old course, but loved the rail trail portion of the course, which was added to the race four years ago.
“From what I remember I’ve had such miserable Firecracker runs that I think I kind of mentally put the course out of my head,” she joked. “Seriously, it was great. I mean I loved the trail. That was my favorite part of the whole race. It’s flat, it’s covered…I didn’t run it last year but I think two years ago it was so humid on that trail so that’s where my biggest downfall was. So it was nice this year to have it be cool and raining. I really enjoyed it.”
A total of 679 runners completed the five-mile course.