Lowe counters high heat, humidity with win

August 18, 2015

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Burkey outduals Kordistos; event raises over $6,000 for animal shelter

By Kevin Spradlin
PhDispatch.com

* Photo gallery – more than 2,500 images!
* Official results
* Next up: Gulf War Memorial 5K

FROSTBURG, Md. — It became seasonably warm and uncomfortable on Sunday morning in Allegany County, but no one felt the heat more than Adam Lowe.

That’s because the 33-year-old from Mechanicsville, Md., had Chad Merrill breathing down his neck for the entire 15.5-mile trek along during the inaugural Howard’s 25K Run along the Great Allegheny Passage.

Kevin Spradlin | PhDispatch.com Temperatures warmed runners quickly Sunday morning along the Great Allegheny Passage from Frostburg to Cumberland.

Kevin Spradlin | PhDispatch.com
Temperatures warmed runners quickly Sunday morning along the Great Allegheny Passage from Frostburg to Cumberland.

The rail trail race featured a near-constant gradual descent from the Mountain City to the Western Maryland Railway Station in Cumberland. Proceeds were earmarked to benefit the Allegany County Animal Shelter, which has undergone a transformation in the past six years from a high-kill shelter to one with a nearly 100 percent “save” rate.

The race was staged by the Queen City Striders and co-directors Sharon Ellsworth and Ray Hunt. It is a spinoff from the former Run for Gold Metric Marathon, a 16.4-mile jaunt along the GAP from Meyersdale, Pa., to Frostburg held from 2012 to 2014 to commemorate American athletes competing in international competition. The Run for Gold was organized by the Potomac Highlands Distance Club.

None of the race history or administration mattered early Sunday morning for Lowe, however. Instead, he focused on reaching the finish line at Canal Place as quickly as possible — and a few steps ahead of Merrill. He was successful in that regard, as he crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 34 minutes and 13 seconds — a pace of 6:04 per mile. Merrill, 34, of Germantown, Md., was a mere 25 seconds behind. Chris VanSant, 43, of Fairfield, Pa., was a distant third in 1:45:18 and Ron Hamric, 58, of Bruceton Mills, W.Va., was the fourth and final runner under the 1:50 barrier (1:47:28).

Alicia Burkey, 28, of Pittsburgh, Pa., was fifth overall among 138 official finishers, the last of whom took slightly more than four and one-half hours to complete the event. Burkey’s time of 1:50:25 earned her the title of women’s champion. She finished only two spots ahead of runner-up and fellow Pittsburgh harrier Alicia Kordistos, 28, who stopped the clock in 1:51:51. Leslie Sherwood, 25, of Pittsburgh, edged Ashley Carroll, 34, of Uniontown, Pa., for third female. Sherwood finished in 1:55:29, 12 seconds ahead of Carroll.

Race sponsors allowed runner entry fees to go entirely to the beneficiary, the Allegany County Animal Shelter. That’s the only sign of a big-city feel for the day; every other aspect indicated a small-town affair — from the informal start line welcome to the banjo player at Mile 10 near Helmstetter’s Curve. Social media was filled with overwhelmingly positive comments about the event, the first for Ellsworth and Hunt as co-directors. Ellsworth created and has directed since its inception the Gulf War Memorial 5K in downtown Cumberland. This year’s event is set for Aug. 22.

Kevin Spradlin | PhDispatch.com Adam Lowe, of Mechanicsville, Md., led from start to finish in the inaugural Howard's 25K Run, a 15.5-mile point-to-point distance race in western Maryland.

Kevin Spradlin | PhDispatch.com
Adam Lowe, of Mechanicsville, Md., led from start to finish in the inaugural Howard’s 25K Run, a 15.5-mile point-to-point distance race in western Maryland.

Co-director Hunt relayed that officials were “still crunching numbers” two days after the race and they “have to add in sales from the gift basket raffle, Wanda’s little pet bracelets that were sold at the finish line, the spaghetti dinner and the sponsor donations … Without any accounting, we can safely say over $6,000.”

Hunt said the event hopes to release an official accounting by Labor Day.

Kevin Spradlin | PhDispatch.com Shortly after crossing Paddy Baker Road, many runners couldn't help but look to their left for a scenic view of the historic town of Mount Savage.

Kevin Spradlin | PhDispatch.com
Shortly after crossing Paddy Baker Road, many runners couldn’t help but look to their left for a scenic view of the historic town of Mount Savage.

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