By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO The threat of rain and the crushing humidity might have kept several dozen runners away, but organizers still deemed the Monticello Rotary Monster Run-a-Thon a success after 217 runners and walkers crossed the finish line on Sunday.
Over 240 had signed up, an average number. Most importantly, proceeds from the 32nd annual 5K and 10K races will benefit The Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County and Action Toward Independence.
Wesley Macker of Kings Park, LI, who won the 5K race, was staying with friends in Monticello and wanted to get some race time in. He found The Monster on active.com.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” said the 19-year-old, entering his sophomore year at SUNY Stony Brook, where he runs track.
But he was the first to reach the turnaround and won easily, by nearly a minute, in 18:13.
As to The Monster’s infamous hills, Macker was not as challenged as many others. At Smithtown West HS, his home cross country course was the notoriously difficult Sunken Meadow State Park.
“It was fun… I’d like to break 17 minutes next time,” said Macker, who calls himself “a shorter-distance runner.”
“The 10K? I’ll run that in a few years,” he said.
Elizabeth Andruszkiewicz has spent most summers at her family’s cabin in Claryville and first ran The Monster last year, at 10K.
A switch to the 5K on Sunday gave her a win, and she knew she was in first place at the turnaround.
“It was great. Everybody going the other way was very encouraging,” said Andruszkiewicz, 19, a member of the University of Notre Dame track and cross country teams.
Jason Kennedy of Honesdale, PA, has not lost the enthusiasm for running he picked up at Honesdale HS, where he graduated in 1999.
The dairy farmer, 30, said it’s not easy, but he makes time in his busy schedule to get some training miles in and compete in road races.
“It was a tough race, very humid. I was suffering most of the way,” Kennedy said after his 36:59 (breaking the 6:00/mile pace) was good enough to win the 10K by 13 seconds.
He had placed second last year, the first time he ran the course. A change in strategy did him good Kennedy went out faster on Sunday, and had enough left at the end. Last August he saved himself for the finish but found he did not quite have the kick he needed.
Katy Schlichtman of Wurtsboro has discovered road racing of late, quite a switch for a superlative track runner. At Monticello HS, she set the county record in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles and later starred at Columbia University.
On Sunday Schlichtman, 26, ran 44:31 to win the 10K by 35 seconds in the female division. It was her second Monster 10K.
“It was very tough. It was a little hard to breathe, [but] I guess I ran well enough,” she said, adding, “There were no surprises… you know those hills are coming.”
Schlichtman ran in the Orange Classic earlier this year and noted, “I’m surprised at how my times have dropped since last year.”
See Friday’s paper for more photos and results.