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Dr. J. on Running

Freihofer's Run For Women

Chargers Rule

Published June 4, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

The twenty-third running of the Freihofer's Run for Women last Saturday brought cheers and joy to the many Syracusans who made the trip to Albany. Designated as the USATF National 5K Championship, the race gave the Syracuse Chargers Track Club numerous titles, not to mention the bragging rights that accompany the winners' hardware.

A cold front swept through the Capital District overnight, tumbling temperatures and soaking the region in a steady rainfall. The morning promised more showers and a cloudy race. Gloomy-faced officials and volunteers scurried with last-minute details, and runners sported garbage bags and raincoats to keep warm and dry as the clock ticked towards the start.

An Armed Forces color guard provided the backdrop for the Star Spangled Banner. Spectators stood respectfully, runners fidgeted nervously, and the rains abated to honor the moment. A misty drizzle persisted to cool the runners, as the starter's gun sent the record field of 3,500 scurrying towards Washington Park.

The Chargers women started in a pack of green singlets, giving each other the early support that carried them over the 5-kilometer course. Colette Liss of Indianapolis was a surprise winner in 15:47, claiming $7,000 and the National title. Pre-race favorite and last year's runner-up Blake Russell of Bedford, MA finished second in 15:58, and Sylvia Mosqueda of Los Angeles was third in 15:59.

Judi St. Hilaire of Somerset, MA, was fifth overall and first master in 16:18 and won $2,750, edging Mary Knisley of Naperville, IL. Carmen Troncoso of Austin, TX, finished third master and ninth overall in 16:40.

Forty-four year-old running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson finished in 17:24, 3 seconds ahead of top Charger Heather Swarts. Heidi Swarts, Debbie Springer, Kristin White and Eileen Ferguson rounded the Chargers Open team, winning the USATF Association Team Championship by 3 seconds over the Willow Street Athletic Club.

The Swarts twins also won the title in the sister-sister team competition with combined times of 35:09, well over 3 minutes faster than the second place team.

The Chargers Masters team of Patti DePaulis, Ruth Yanai, Mary Ann Janiszewski and Liz Besio finished second to the Atlanta Track Club, while the Chargers "Nifty Fifty" team of Coreen Steinbach, Virginia Verdoes, Karen Davies, Yvonne Tasker-Rothenberg won the over-50 team competition.

Not to be outdone by her younger teammates, Baldwinsville's Lennie Tucker won the 60-64 national title in a time of 24:23. Other notable individual performances included Fayetteville's DePaulis who finished fifth 45-49 in 20:00; Pompey's Steinbach, fourth 50-54 in 20:20; Fulton's Davies, third 55-59 in 24:05; and Syracuse's Tasker-Rothenberg, fourth 55-59 in 24:17.

As the awards were handed out to close the 2001 chapter of the Freihofer's Run for Women, and planning began for the 2002 edition, we returned home to Syracuse having witnessed one of the nation's best celebrations of women running.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@i2sports.com.


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