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Wednesday, July 9, 2008 -- Connellsville, PA
26th Annual John Woodruff 5K (iPO Event Id#: 10892)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

Coverage: [2000] [2001] [2003] [2002] [2004] [2005] [2006] [2007]

Remembering a True Champion

Story and photos by J.R. Petsko

Photo by J.R. Petsko
Fun in the late summer sun
This year marked the 26th annual running of the John Woodruff 5K in Connellsville, PA. Here's a little background for those of you who don't know who John Woodruff is. At the 1936 Olympic in Berlin, Germany Woodruff represented the United State as a half mile runner. Most of you already know the story of the 1936 games because there has been countless television shows on the subject.

Hitler was in charge of Germany at the time and had told the world leading up to the 1936 game that his "superior athletes" would rise above the rest at the games. John Woodruff and eight other African-American medal winners proved Hitler wrong. Woodruff took the Gold in the half mile. For the past 26 years runners from around the tri-state area have come to this race in honor of the man and his accomplishments.

This year, over 500 runners and walker showed up to take part in the event. Mother Nature must have known something important was going on because it rained before the event, around the event, and after the event. Somehow in the summer of rain it has become we had a PERFECT window of sunshine to run the race in.

Off the front early were Jeff Palya, John Feather, Wade Schnorr, Cory Kaufman and Brian Caskey.

Photo by J.R. Petsko
The front runners lean on
For the women's field Heather Parks was not holding anything back early on. Parks, who was pregnant for most of the 2007 running season, was looking forward to taking part in the Woodruff event and it showed.

Before too long the runners where out of my site and I could do nothing but wait for them to make their way towards the finish area at Connellsville Stadium.

First to the finish was Jeff Palya who ran a 16:55 to take the win. Palya improved on his 17:14 that he ran in 2007 which gave him 4th in the race.

John Feather finished second in 17:00 ahead of Wade Schnorr in third with a time of 17:20. Schnorr proved to be a consistent runner by finishing third in the race for the second year in a row. Corey Kaufman finished fourth in 18:01. Fifth went to Brian Caskey in a time of 18:02.

For the women Heather Parks never let up on the rest of the women. The new mother finished in 19:15 to take the women's overall.

Second for the women was Jordyn Hartsek who came across the line in 21:02 and was followed by Amanda Rubis in third with a time if 21:48. Annah Sukay was in fourth with a time of 21:53 and rounding out the top five was Janet Zelner in 22:09.

I am sorry to say that John Woodruff past away last year but I have a feeling that this event in his honor will not go away anytime soon. This man went into one of the most hostile places a US athlete has ever had to deal with and came home a champion. Never let that be lost