Runners log 250 miles in inaugural Relay event

By on July 11, 2012

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Photo by Ron Krak
Andrew Haines (left) and Declan McCarthy (right) push the pace while competing in the 501 North Relay at the Warwick track.

Warwick junior high cross country coach Mark Mueller collected a team of runners who described themselves as the "Over the Hill Gang."

Apparently, though, they still have some miles left in the tank.

Thirty-five, to be exact, on Saturday, June 23.

That tied for them for first-place honors with the BMT squad in the Warwick cross country team’s first annual Route 501N Relay at the Warwick track.

Eight relay teams, each consisting of seven to 10 runners, logged as many miles as possible in a four-time period. With Warwick’s runners accruing pledges prior to the event, and others donating to the cause, the Warriors raised about $2,500 for charity and for their program.

"I’m really, really happy with how everything went our first year," Warwick varsity cross country coach Jenny Sassaman said. "This was kind of a mutual brainchild between Mark and I because we didn’t want to do the proverbial sub sale during the year. And it’s running — it’s what we do, it’s what we love."

They also loved the fact that they were able to offer a helping hand to the Wounded Warrior Project by donating a portion of their proceeds to that mission. The purpose of the Wounded Warriors program includes helping injured service members aid and assist each other, and providing unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.

"We’re the Warwick Warriors. We want to help the warriors that help us keep running so we can stay free and do what we like to do here," Sassaman said.

Although several families were out of town on summer vacation, Mueller estimated that there were 70 to 80 people taking turns running laps on the track. This year, the event was limited to WHS cross country runners, along with families and friends, but they are hoping to expand it in 2013.

"We’d like to open it up next year to the community," Sassaman said.

"To me, the power in this was just the fellowship and bringing everybody out here," said Mueller, whose teammates included Neil and Eileen Crone, father-son combo Scott and Brad Garman, Trevor Dombach, captain Al Rothermel, Bob Reidenbaugh and Steve Mousetis. "Jen always says that running is a cool sport and that it’s one of the only sports where when you start the competition, you’re not facing the other team. Everybody is going the same direction and I think part of our program is getting kids that are of all different abilities, all different backgrounds and ages together, especially in the summer time, and running together here in Lititz."

The Over the Hill Gang tied for top honors with a group which included Ben Mueller, David Krak, Jordan Garner, Ryan Haines, and father-son combo Adam and David Deckard.

But for Warwick’s cross country runners, the Route 501N Relay was more than just circling the track as the sounds of rock music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s boomed through the speakers. It was more than just hanging out with friends and getting themselves into shape for the upcoming fall.

It was also about building some chemistry with other athletes in the program.

"Our junior high runners see our senior high runners and they see the future and the senior high can see the future coming up, and as junior and senior high coaches, we always want to make that bridge and make it a more community, awesome running effort," Sassaman said.

"It creates excitement at the beginning of the summer for our program," Mueller added, "and that rolls right into the fall."

By all indications, that excitement will also continue for the 2013 Route 501N Relay.

"People are going to hear about this and they’re going to want to do it," Sassaman said.

Rounding out the results from this year’s event, the Paramount Purple Pacers were third with 33 miles, followed by That’s What She Said in fourth with 32.5 miles, Bolt and Lititz Long Legs tied for fifth with 30 miles, Tapa in seventh with 28 miles and Island of Misfit Toys in eighth with 26 miles.

Local businesses also stepped this year in support of the event, including donating items for raffle prizes. More RELAY, page B-4

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