By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO August 10, 2007 Step up to the starting line of any road race and look around.
If you spot Maegan Krifchin a longtime Woodbourne summer resident chances are you don’t stand a chance of winning the women’s division.
The Syracuse University soph-to-be won her third straight “Baby Monster” 5K run on Sunday, and her third road race in as many tries here in Sullivan County this summer.
A fixture on the racing circuit since 1979, the Monticello Rotary Club Monster Runs drew 219 runners on Sunday.
Attending SU on a track scholarship, Krifchin, whose permanent address is in Bellmore, L.I., was third in the 800 at the 2006 New York State Championships, clocking a 2:10.69.
“Running is such a great sport,” she reflected minutes after crossing the finish line in 18:47, third best overall and 3:34 ahead of her closest female rival. “It’s harder than people think. You have to have something within you…”
One day, she promised, she will tackle the 10K, the full “Monster.”
The mysterious woman
Minutes after finishing the 10K, Jean Velasquez Norton of Wurtsboro, one of the premier female runners in the region, was wondering about the distaff 10K winner, who finished sixth overall in the bruising race.
No one else Norton asked seemed to know her either, and she had run an impressive 38:34, a full four minutes ahead of Norton.
Norton, who is headed to Hawaii later this month to compete in the highly-select Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, marathon run) was impressed that this runner broke 40 minutes something the 45-year-old Norton did only once in the Monster.
“I hear she’s in her 20s,” Norton slyly said, making note of the age difference.
The mysterious runner turned out to be 26-year-old Lisa Cappello of Wakeport, NY, a Providence College grad now living in New Rochelle.
Trying to keep in shape for a post-college cross country series she competes in, Cappello glanced through a race calendar and saw a listing for the Monster.
“I knew nothing about it, I ran it cold,” she said, adding that it was her first 10K.
Shortly after the start, as she climbed the first of several hills that give the race its reputation, she knew she was going to be in for a test.
“‘Oh no, this is going to be tough, this is challenging,’ I said to myself,” Cappello noted. “When they say it’s a monster, it really is!”
But as the 5K leaders turned around at their appointed mark, she noted that only five runners, all male, continued on in the longer race.
It was then that she knew she was going to slay this monster.
And she gave her competition no relief, saying she as planning on running the race again.
“I think it’ll be easier next time. I’ll know what to expect,” she said.
Enters (and wins) his first 10K
One of the runners Cappello saw ahead of her at the “turnaround” turned out to be Colin Seidl of Cochecton.
Entering his junior year at Sullivan West HS, Seidl, 17, wanted to enter the Monster last year, but felt he wasn’t in good enough shape.
This year he plans on running cross country for the first time for the Bulldogs and wanted to “get a bunch of races in.”
As the 5K runners detached themselves, Seidl saw that there were three 10K contestants ahead of him. Winning had not entered his mind beforehand, he said, “I was just trying to stay with the leaders.”
Not only did he stay with them, he was shortly to pass them as well, making his move on a hill just before the runners would enter the Concord Golf Course and the toughest hill of all.
“After I took the lead I got into a zone and picked up speed,” said Seidl, who pulled away to win by 43 seconds.
Seidl’s winning time was 36:36.
He credited the challenging inclines on County Route 114, where he lives, for helping him get ready for Sunday’s race.
Making it 2-for-2
Brendan Devine of Bethel, about the enter his senior year at Monticello High School, won his second summer race in as many tries, taking the 5K in 16:52. Earlier this summer he had won the Smallwood 5K.
He contemplated entering the 10K “I definitely have the training for it,” he said but decided to stick to the high school cross country distance,
“This was one of the races people told me I should run when I moved here in eighth grade,” Devine noted.
Devine noted he regularly puts in 70-80 miles a week, and trains with former Monticello teammate Brendan Ference (who just graduated; he was 27th in the 10K with a 44:28).
Though he won comfortably, Devine said that whenever he competes, he always seems to hear footsteps.
But does he check the status of runners behind him?
“I never look back,” he asserted. ‘I have a theory that if you look back you slow down.”
Odds and ends
Different motivations drove the runners on Sunday.
Jim Walsh of New Windsor labored to the 5K finish line, and just before making the turn onto Broadway for the last 50 yards or so, asked a spectator, “Did the 10K guy finish yet?”
The answer was no, and for a moment a triumphant grin replaced his grimace of effort.
“My goal was to finish before the 10K winner,” Walsh said later. “I kept looking over my shoulder. I think I beat him by a few steps.”
Walsh’s 36:30 was six seconds better than Colin Seidl’s winning 10K time.
Walsh credited Bruce Casulli of Port Jervis, there to cheer him on, with encouraging him to enter.
“It’s been 20 years since my last 5K,” said Walsh, 51, who noted that his p.r. in the 5K was 17:30.
Seven-year Race Director Orshii Boldiis of Mileses said that “the race went very well, although I would have wanted to see more runners.”
There were 219 finishers this year, one better than in 2006 but a drop from the 280 in 2005.
Boldiis said he does all he can to drum up interest in the race, a major fund-raiser for the Monticello Rotary Club.
“It takes a lot of different people and their energies to make it happen,” Boldiis, a former Rotary Club president, said of his fellow Rotarians and other volunteers and village personnel that make the complex logistics of the race possible. “Without their energies [the race] would not happen.”
The proceeds from the race will benefit the Sullivan County chapter of the Literacy Volunteers of America.