By Rob Potter
ROCK HILL More than 500 runners and walkers spent part of their Sunday in Rock Hill to compete in the sixth annual Celebrate Life Half Marathon.
Amid sunny skies and above average temperatures for an early March day in Sullivan County, those competitors began their 13.1-mile trek near The Rock Hill United Methodist Church and proceeded around Lake Louise Marie. They then circled Wolf Lake before finishing in front of The Lodge at Rock Hill.
All proceeds from the race benefit Citizens Reunited to Overcome Cancer (CROC), an organization which raises money to help people in Orange and Sullivan Counties who have cancer or are cancer survivors.
A total of 573 people of all ages who hailed from across New York State, the neighboring states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and other states including Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas, registered for the race. That number represented an increase of 265 competitors from the 2008 Celebrate Life Half Marathon.
Jonathan Holland of Tannersville, Pa. was the first to cross the finish line. His winning time was 1 hour, 28 minutes and 57 seconds.
Dale Dickey of Tioga, Pa. was second in 1:19.32 and Michael Bakker of Garrison, N.J. finished third in 1:20.56.
The first woman to finish was Becki Rosenfeldt of Belchertown, Mass., who posted a time of 1:28.57.
Christina Ardito of Schenectady was second (1:32.28) and Jean Norton of Wurtsboro was third (1:34.39).
Eliot Collins of Raritan finished first in the Male Walker category with a time of 3:03.47. Kenneth Marshall of Montgomery was second (3:12.38) and Kenneth Weinert of Circleville was third (3:25.16).
Stephanie Borzio of Quakertown, Pa. won the Female Walker division in 3:12.39. Mary Maceri of Quakertown, Pa. placed second (3:12.42) and Barbara Kilbride of Slate Hill was third (3:23.25).
John Weiner of Osceola, Pa. won the Overall Male Survivor division with a time of 1:23.04, while Will DeRoberts of Boonton, N.J. placed second (1:28.37) and Brian Krick was third (1:35.45).
Shannon McGinn of Rahway, N.J. finished first in the Overall Female Survivor division with a time of 1:50.11. Bette Clark of Yonkers was second (1:56.38) and Jackie McBride-Gaillard of Cornwall-on-the-Hudson was third (2:02.29).
Two special awards were given to the youngest athletes in the race. The youngest male was 6-year-old Justin Guiliano of Ellenville, who finished with a time of 2:32.15. The youngest female was 12-year-old Catherine Madsen of Matamoras, Pa., who had a time of 3:22.57.
While McBride-Gaillard, who grew up in Rock Hill, ran the course, her good friends Christine Dirks of Greenville and Brenda Travers of Greenville both walked in the race. Dirks and Travers crossed the finish line with identical times of 3:36.33.
Travers, who grew up in Eldred, is also a cancer survivor. She was one of the 25 people who received financial help from CROC from the money raised by last year’s Celebrate Life Half Marathon.
“It’s a great program,” Travers said of CROC.
“This was my first year walking in this race and I going to come again next year,” Travers added.
On Sunday morning, Race Directors Myriam Loor and Kathleen Rifkin were pleased by the large turnout of runners and walkers. They also expressed their appreciation for everyone who helped make the event successful.
The two ladies noted that two of the major sponsors of the event were The Outback Steakhouse of Middletown and The Lodge at Rock Hill. Outback owner Kevin Cook and his employees provided the postrace meal of chicken, steaks, rice and rolls. General Manager Shannan Armbrust and the staff at The Lodge at Rock Hill donated the facility’s dining room for the meal and awards ceremony. In addition, The Lodge provided rooms at a discounted rate for those runners and walkers who needed overnight accommodations.
“It worked out well to have everybody here since we had so many more people this year,” Rifkin said of The Lodge at Rock Hill. “It’s a blessing for us to be here.”
Yesterday morning, Loor said that preliminary figures indicated Sunday’s event raised more than $15,000 for CROC.
“Everything went very well, it went very smoothly,” she said. “We have to thank all of our volunteers for helping.”
Loor said that 50 volunteers helped with the race preparations on Saturday, during the race on Sunday and with the clean up after the race.
In addition, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office deputies provided traffic control for the race. Members of the Rock Hill Fire Department and the Rock Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps were on hand to assist the race organizers.
Complete race results can be found online at fastfinishes.net.