Luehm, O’Regan debut at Easter Egg Run with wins

By on April 11, 2012

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Photo by Preston Whitcraft
Hershey's Jeff Luehm ran a first-mile split of 5:23 and led most of the way in the Sauder's Easter Egg Run last Saturday, reaching the finish line in a winning time of 28:29.

For Lebanon’s Katie O’Regan, last Saturday’s 20th annual Sauder’s Easter Egg Five-Miler was her first race since competing in the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler one week earlier.

For Hershey’s Jeff Luehm, it was his first race of the year, period.

Ultimately, under bright, windy conditions, Luehm overcame a couple early challengers to win the overall title in 28:29, while O’Regan battled through some soreness to finish seventh overall and claim the women’s crown in 29:47.

The two first-time Sauder’s Egg Run competitors were two of 379 finishers in the five-mile run. Combined with the 5K-walk and 10 and 25-mile bicycle rides, there were 675 total participants registered for this year’s event. Proceeds benefited the Lititz Fire Department.

"Record attendance and excellent weather will lead to more generous donations back to the community," said Linda Michael, of Sauder’s Eggs. "Thanks to all the sponsors, volunteers and Sauder employees who donated their time to make it a successful event. A special thank you to the local Firemen, Fire Police and Law Enforcement who make it a safe event."

A houseparent at Milton Hershey School, Luehm doesn’t normally have a lot of open Saturdays. Last weekend was a different story, though, and the 29-year-old found the Sauder’s run on and made the short trip down Route 322.

"It was my first race of the year and I didn’t really know what to expect and I went out the first mile a little faster than I was expecting," Luehm said, "but it was fun."

A couple of younger runners took the early lead at the start of the race. But Luehm pulled ahead after the first quarter-mile and led the rest of the way.

"(My first-mile split) was about 5:23 … I was thinking maybe more like 5:40, so when I saw that first split, I was like, ‘Whoa,’" Luehm chuckled. "Sometimes when go really hard that first part, it catches up with you. I was worried about that. My next splits were slower, but it’s not like I hit the wall. It didn’t go as badly as I thought it might."

Luehm ended up reaching the finish line 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Matt Houseman (28:45) and Evan Sandt (28:49) was close behind to round out the top three.

Houseman and Sandt were close enough to Luehm that he never really felt comfortable with his lead until the fifth mile, when he was able to give a final kick to the start/finish line at the Lititz Fire Co.

"After mile four, I felt good enough to push and I thought I would hold them off," Luehm said. "But before that, I was nervous the whole time. I could hear (Houseman), especially when the wind was at my back. I could hear footsteps or his number rustling, so I was always like, ‘Is he coming?’ But I was able to hold him off."

Saturday’s race will help Luehm as he prepares for the Mt. Gretna Triathlon on May 19. He has also competed in the Hands-On House Half-Marathon the past two years and he enters a number of local 5K races.

"I do a variety of stuff," he said.

So, too, does O’Regan, who had an impressive 19th-place finish in 1:01.21 at the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in Washington, D.C. on April 1. A member of the Keystone Track Club, out of Harrisburg, the Wyomissing High School product is now preparing for a New Jersey half-marathon and the Delaware Marathon over the next month.

The Sauder’s Egg Run was a nice opportunity for O’Regan to stay active, and while she came to Lititz hoping to earn the win, she knew there were no guarantees.

"There’s a lot of talent in the mid state, so any given day, I don’t know what to expect," O’Regan said.

Although O’Regan wasn’t well rested from the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, she was still plenty strong enough to win the Easter Egg Run, taking top honors nearly two minutes ahead of runner-up Brooke Magni (31:44).

"I was a little tired, but I was still feeling pretty good," O’Regan said. "It was a windy day, but it was still a pretty nice day."

She broke away from the starting line in solid shape, running in the 5:40’s to take the lead in the women’s race in the opening mile. Knowing that she had built a comfortable lead and dealing with a gusting wind, she slowed her pace slightly in the second half of the race.

"I went out hard for the first mile because I wanted to make sure that no one else got in front of me," O’Regan, 27, said. "I probably eased up about halfway through. Also with the wind, that made a difference and I wasn’t going to try to power into the wind too much." More EGG RUN, page B-6

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