By Ted Waddell
JEFFERSONVILLE August 7, 2007 After a hiatus of couple of years, the ninth annual Jeff Jam 5k was back in full stride on Saturday as a field of 59 runners (including a few walkers) took to the 3.1-mile course around Lake Jefferson.
All it takes to be a good runner is putting one foot in front of the other, right?
How about guts, determination and the will to get past the pain to make it all the way to the finish line?
Joyce Weinman of Jeffersonville stood alongside the edge of the road next to Callicoon Creek near the finish line, waiting for her husband Peter and their 26-year-old son Zach to pass by.
“This is such a nice thing for our town, it attracts good, healthy people,” she said of the return of the Jeff Jam 5K.
John Lennon of Jeffersonville graduated from Liberty Central School in 1970, and has been a runner ever since he took to the mats as a wrestler on high school. Now in his 27th year coaching wrestling at LCS, Lennon is still pounding out the miles.
“It makes you feel good, it keeps you going with motivation and it gets rid of a lot of stress,” he said.
“It’s a great little course, and it’s great to have it back,” added Lennon, who finished 36th with a time of 28 minutes flat.
George Shakelton of Hancock who will soon begin his eighth season as a cross country coach at Sullivan West Central School, served as the race organizer.
Shakelton said he couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of Nancy Peters.
“If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have had a race… she did all the legwork,” Shakelton said. He also noted that his wife Tamrya and 19-year-old Amanda Ward, a 2006 SW graduate, also helped out a great deal.
Shakelton said that after expenses the fundraiser raked in about $1,000 for the SW Bulldogs cross country team.
“Hopefully, we can keep it going,” he said of the resurgence of the local certified 5K.
What’s it like to break through the pain barrier as the race continues?
“You’ve just to pace yourself,” replied Shakelton, who finished seventh overall with a time of 18 minutes, 57 seconds.
“Once you’re 400 meters into it, the pain doesn’t change a whole lot, it’s there for the rest of the race.”
Traffic control was provided by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and SW’s School Resource Officer (SRO) Trooper Greg Brewer of the New York State Police.
Jessica Mall of Jeffersonville crossed the finish line in 50:43. Just one-tenth of a second behind her was 13-year-old Taylor Pilny of Jeffersonville (50:44), along with a dog named “Macy” (no recorded time).
Both two-footed competitors took to the course for the first time in support of the rest of the Pilny runners: 37-year old Tammy and Judy, 62.
Gary Dennis, 36, of Milford, Pa., won the event in 16:29. The math teacher at Delaware Valley (Pa.) High School said that while he was in high school he entered a 5K race.
“I enjoyed it, found out I was decent at it and stuck with it,” he said.
His take on running?
“It takes consistent effort to be where you want to be, but sometimes it just doesn’t get there,” Dennis replied. “You’ve got to take consolation in the fact that you’ve done your best… whether you reach your goal or not, it’s striving for it that’s important.”
Nineteen-year-old April Ackermann of Cochecton finished in first place in the overall women’s division with a time of 19:50.
Ackermann graduated from SW in 2006, and will soon begin her second year of studying dairy production and management at SUNY Cobleskill. In addition to hitting the books, she is a member of Cobleskill’s women’s cross country, women’s basketball and women’s track teams.
“I learned everything from George Shakelton,” she said of her former high school coach. “He taught me to open up my stride, surge on the uphills and recover on the flats.”
“I like to run and have fun, and it was nice to see everyone again,” Ackermann added.
Note: Please see the complete race results in Friday’s issue.