Wharton sets MPMC course record

June 17, 2012


Wharton, Grady lead 5-mile field in Mercersburg

 2012 resultsphoto gallerymain event page

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Phil Wharton in Running TimesPW YouTubePW blogPW on stretching

By Kevin Spradlin / run@PhDispatch.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa., June 16, 2012 — Phil Wharton, one of the world’s most renowned muscu

loskeletal therapists, spends the bulk of his time helping some of the best long distance runners on the planet.

On Saturday, the 44-year-old transplant from Flagstaff, Arizona, took a little time for himself. As little time as possible.

Phil Wharton

Wharton, of Willow Hill near Waynesboro, took more than four minutes off the standing course record in the second annual MPMC 5-mile run in Mercersburg.

Wharton led the 47 runners and walkers to the finish line of the single-loop road race in 29 minutes and 23.3 seconds.

Both he and Mike Meadows beat the previous course record of 33:30.4, set by 2011 race winner Will Rice, then 17, of Mercersburg.

Meadows, 55, of Martinsburg, W.Va., placed second overall in 31:31.6 and Luke Cessna, 45, of Fort Loudon, Pa., finished third in 34:27.5.

Cessna placed second in 2011, the inaugural year of the Montgomery-Peters-Mercersburg Connectivity community event. MPMC is a subcommittee of Mercersburg Area Council for Wellness and aims to “build community vibrancy and enhance public spaces by connecting people and places with safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists.”

For his part, Wharton said the course, dotted with a couple of inclines through pristine Pennsylvania farm country, was “beautiful.”

“I’m really happy to come and support a great cause out here,” Wharton said. “It’s something I wanted to wake up early for.”

The 8 a.m. start featured a temperature of 67 degrees with no winds. It was sunny, though, on a course that is destined to become well known as much for its lack of tree cover as it is for a fast five-mile run.

The hills, Wharton said of the inclines in the first and fourth miles, didn’t bother him.

“Hills are kind of a mainstay of my steady diet of running,” said the former marathoner. “I enjoyed it.”

Wharton said the early part of the race “went pretty slow” but matched his goal of maintaining an effort of about 75 percent.

Wharton said that as it is an Olympic year, he has set aside personal training goals in order to meet his professional obligations of helping some of the world’s best athletes to the starting line in London.

“I tend to try to not put anything on the calendar,” Wharton said of goal races. “I just get out there and enjoy my running.”

Enjoyment is something Hope Grady also gets back in returning for her dedication to logging miles.

The 45-year-old Mercersburg woman is a stay-at-home mom who, she said, uses training to pray.

Hope Grady

As for races, “I avoid them,” Grady said. “I’ve been off the racing scene for quite a while. I love to train. I pray while I’m training. This was a very good training run for me.”

Grady led all female finishers to the end of the five-mile run in 35:05.7 — a mere 4.9 seconds off the course record of 35:00.8, set last year by then 14-year-old Caroline Schemel.

Grady said she raced through high school and college in New York and Rhode Island. These days, though, “I’m not a racer. I just like to train.”

If that’s true, practice made perfect for Grady. She earned the top spot in the women’s field by more than 90 seconds as Brooke Schellhase, 36, of Fayetteville, Pa., placed second in 36:38.2. Katie Thompson, 31, of Chambersburg, Pa., finished third in 37:03.6.

Though she acknowledged her training didn’t meet her personal standard to call it a race, “it’s always in my mind to run hard,” Grady said.

“I’m a runner to the core,” she said.

Grady said a person always on her mind is her daughter, who died at the age of 2 from brain cancer.

“She’s where I want to be one day. In Heaven,” Grady said.

The lifelong Catholic said she prefers to run alone while meditating “on the mysteries of Christ’s life. I certainly find peace. If I’m stressed out about this or that, I go for a run.”

Grady said she prays the Rosary while running.

“God guides me with every step,” she said. “You know how it is with runners. You love it, but … sometimes when I don’t actually want to run, I will go out specifically to pray the Rosary. That’s ho wmuch I love that prayer.”

Race Director Danielle Fox, of MPMC, moved this year’s event under the banner of the Potomac Highlands Distance Club, an affiliate of the Road Runners Club of America.

In addition to an increase in the number of participants to this year from last, Fox also coordinated a successful health and fitness expo on the site of the Mercersburg Lions Club Community Park.



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