Weaver Claims Third Firecracker

By on July 8, 2015
Daryl Weaver of Lititz raises his arms as he crosses the finish line to win his third Firecracker Run title Saturday in Grater Park.

Daryl Weaver is making this Firecracker thing look easy.

For the second-straight year and third time overall, the 42-year old Lititz resident blew away the rest of the field Saturday in a steady rain to win the 38th annual Ephrata Firecracker Run.

Weaver jumped out to a quick early lead and then cruised the rest of the way, finishing with a winning time of 27:02.9.

“From 500 feet on,” he said, explaining when he grabbed the lead for good. “One guy stayed with me for the first three quarters of a mile and then I was starting to gap him. I didn’t overcook myself in the first four miles. I just tried to take it easy. But the fifth mile was hard.”

Cocalico graduate Andrew Friesema was a distant second place, finishing in a time of 27:31.3. Current Ephrata senior Nate Becker (27:38.1), EHS grad Sam Wolde (27:46.2) and current Ephrata assistant boys soccer coach Ashley Sollenberger (28:07.6) rounded out the top five.

Ephrata grad Alex Smith (7th, 28:15.3) and current EHS junior Zach Lefever (8th, 28:16.1) also were top 10 performers, while 13-year-old Dylan Becker, a seventh grader-to-be at Ephrata Middle School, finished an impressive 18th overall with a time of 30:26.6.

On the women’s side, Katie O’Regan of Lititz claimed her first Firecracker title in her initial appearance in the race. Like Weaver, the Wyomissing native who ran two years at Cornell breezed to the finish in a time of 30:45.5. Brooke Magni, the 2014 Firecracker champion, was a distant second, finishing in a time of 32:25.9.

“I wasn’t really pushed,” O’Regan said. “One of my good friends (Magni) was racing, and I knew that ahead of time, but I didn’t know what other competition would show up. I’ve been injured the past year with some non-running issues off and on so I’m not really in top form. I pushed it just to make sure that I didn’t let up and let anybody catch me.”

No one did.

Erin Mullican placed third in the women’s bracket with a time of 33:24.7, while Allison Mannon (4th, 33:31.4) and Cocalico graduate Jess Gockley (5th, 33:48.6) rounded out the top five.

“I thought the race was well run, and it was definitely a challenging course,” O’Regan said when asked about her first Firecracker experience. “I had heard that it was pretty hilly, and I know they cut out one of the final hills but it was still really challenging. I mean I know the rain kind of put a damper on the day but it was still well organized and I really enjoyed it.”

While both Weaver and O’Regan liked that the wet weather kept the temperatures down, the three-time men’s champ said it did get a little treacherous on the new course, which was used for the first time Saturday.

“It’s a lot of turns but I can’t complain,” he said. “You had to be a little careful arround the turns because it was wet, but it didn’t slow me down at all.”

Weaver admitted running races is “mainly for practice” for his first love which is competing in xterra tri-athlons, which are off-road running, mountain biking and trail races.

“I don’t do a lot of these,” he said, referring to races like the Firecracker. “I do (xterra tri-athlons) seriously. I was just down in Alabama and then Richmond two weeks ago…both those were regional championships and I won both amateur races and beat a good many of the pros so I was real happy with how xterra is going this year.”

Like Weaver, the three-year-old O’Regan hasn’t run a lot this year, but for different reasons. She said she only started competing seriously the last few years and has been fighting through her injuries.

She did win the Philly Half-Marathon in March.

“I love these races,” she said. “I love the rhythm and the feeling of freedom. Just being out there myself, pounding along the road…it’s definitely a very personal activity for me. I love challenging myself and I love competing.”

A total of 625 runners braved the rain Saturday and crossed the finish line. For complete Firecracker results, including results from the two-mile Fun Run plus Age Group Winners, turn to page B-2.

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