By Rob Potter
MONTGOMERY March 11, 2008 For the second straight year, the Sullivan Striders Running & Walking Club is the Interclub Challenge Cup champion.
The Sullivan Striders successfully defended their championship at the 2008 Interclub Challenge 5K Road Race, which was held on Sunday at Thomas Bull Memorial County Park in Montgomery.
Runners from four clubs Bronx Road Runners, Orange Runners Club, Rockland Road Runners and Sullivan Striders participated in the seventh annual event.
A total of 90 runners battled both the 3.1-mile course and the cold, blustery weather conditions.
Runners scored points for their club based on their individual finish. With nine members among the first 20 finishers, including the top five, the Sullivan Striders scored a total of 198 points to win the challenge.
The Orange Runners Club finished second with 178 points, the Rockland Road Runners placed third with 60 points and the Bronx Road Runners were fourth with 41 points.
Tim Billias of Rock Hill won the race in a time of 17 minutes, 35 seconds. He was followed by four Sullivan Striders teammates Raymond Revell (18:15), Tom Manza (19:08), Erick Sellstrom (19:23) and Frank Colella (19:27).
“The wind was definitely a factor today,” Billias said shortly after he crossed the finish line.
He said he was pretty happy with his time and the fact that Sullivan Striders members finished in the top five spots.
Also placing in the top 20 for the Sullivan Striders were Bob McPhillips (seventh, 19:47), Donald Thurston (ninth, 19:54), Gary Barnes (13th, 20:32) and Ana Loor (18th, 21:26).
Loor was the second overall female finisher. Tara Pipia of the Orange Runners Club was the first woman to cross the finish line in a time of 21:19. Leane DiSalvo of the Orange Runners Club posted a time of 23:26 and was the third woman to finish.
Members of the Orange Runners Club and Sullivan Striders started the Interclub Challenge back in 2002.
The inaugural event was held in Sullivan County, while the Orange Runners Club has hosted the challenge at Thomas Bull Memorial Park each year since.
The Orange Runners Club won the Interchallenge Cup trophy in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The Rockland Road Runners won the trophy in 2005 and 2006.
Because of the victories last March and on Sunday, the Sullivan Striders will maintain possession of the trophy until next year’s challenge.
While the clubs competed for the cup and the runners gave it their all, the overall atmosphere at the event was one of good sportsmanship and making and renewing friendships.
“It’s fun, everybody has a good time,” said Todd Jennings, who is the president of the Orange Runners Club.
Jennings noted that many runners who live in Orange and Sullivan counties belong to both the Orange Runners Club and the Sullivan Striders.
Sullivan Striders President Dennis Toscano concurred with Jennings sentiments about the Interclub Challenge.
“It’s a fun, competitive event between running clubs in the lower Hudson Valley,” Toscano said. “It’s held in good spirit. After the race, everybody enjoys a good meal and socializing with fellow runners.”