UNIVERSITY PARK Ryan Foster blazed through the new Firecracker 4K course in 12 minutes, 33 seconds without another runner in sight. After crossing the finish line, he said what many runners were thinking on a sunny July 4 morning: That was hot.
Will Cather, 16, of Port Matilda who will be a junior track and crosscountry runner at State College Area High School, led the chase pack, finishing second in 13:19. He was followed by Paul Grieve, 23, of State College in 13:24. Patrick Singletary, 46, of State College was the first masters runner and fifth overall in 13:31.
The Weisner family of St. Marys nearly swept the womens race. Kennedy Weisner, 16, won in 14:12, breaking the event record. Elizabeth Herndon, 26, of State College was second in 14:18, followed by Kennedys sister Kady, 20, in 14:46. Kennedy and Kadys mother Sharon, 50, was the first female masters runner in 16:00.
Kennedy Weisner will be a junior this fall and runs track and cross country at Elk County Catholic. She finished second in the state crosscountry meet and in the 800-and 1,600-meter runs at the PIAA Class AA Track and Field Championships, finishing behind standout Angel Piccirillo in all three. Both broke the previous state record in the 1,600.
Foster, a former Penn State standout and native of Tasmania, Australia, was 46 seconds ahead of the second place finisher and ran one of the fastest times in the 11-year history of the race, but Eric Scott of State College holds onto the event record of 12:29 he set in 2004.
Foster, who ran in a black Kevin Dare Foundation singlet, said he was using the race as part of his training for the Life Back on Track Relay, an attempt to break the world record for a 1,000-mile relay and raise funds for a Kevin Dare memorial scholarship. Dare was a Penn State athlete who was killed in a pole vaulting accident in 2002.
More than 1,000 people completed the Firecracker 4K, which has kicked off the Central PA 4th Fest celebrations every year since 2002.
Construction on Penn States campus forced event organizers to change the course this year. The race started on Curtin Road in front of the Bryce Jordan Center as usual, but the course took runners down Porter Road, back up to Curtin for an out-and-back, and then around Beaver Stadium, finishing in the Stadium West parking lot.
This was a much different race course than weve ever had, said race director Denny Myers. Some runners thought the new course was slower than the old one because it had more turns, but others enjoyed seeing more people on the out-and-back section.
Many participants donned patriotic ensembles for the race, and some even carried flags as they ran. Firefighters Rich Olsen and Andy Gummo ran in their full gear despite the heat.
A group of about 25 runners wore matching See Dave Run T-shirts.
This is their attempt to embarrass me, said the subject of the shirts, Dave Richards. Richards is president of Nittany Bank and ran the race along with many of his employees and their families. Following the race, they had a cookout in a tent set up near the race finish.