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Saturday, May 22, 1999 -- Buckhannon
1999 Strawberry Mile
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Coverage/Recap] [Pics Set 1] [Pics Set 2] [Results]

Nobody is going to rain on this parade
Preceding the Car Parade & Grand Feature Parade of the annual Buckhannon Strawberry Festival is the running of the annual Strawberry Mile. By noon on Saturday, May 22nd, over 70 runners had gathered near the start in a driving rain. Undaunted, they were prepared to attack the downhill stretch that would run them past the many spectators gathered for the coming attractions. But, the strawberry gods must have been watching while the start was delayed for 5 or 10 minutes to clear the route. Moments before the starting signal was given, the rain came to an end and the wet streets waited only for the flood of racing feet.

Eric Chandler clears the parade route in record time
Eric Chandler immediately raced out to the front as he chased only his 1997 course record of 4:28. As he pushed himself through downtown Buckhannon, his pace looked as though a new record, and the reward of a new pair of Fila running shoes, was in reach. The time on the clock as he crossed the line in a full sprint... four minutes... twenty-... eight seconds. Maybe not a new record, but as they say, the tie goes to the runner and Chandler now sports new shoes.

The women's record holder, Julie Zickefoose, wasn't far behind as she raced to break her course best of 5:56 that she set in 1997 and tied in 1998. Her time of 5:53 would have been good enough to earn her another new pair of shoes, that is if it weren't for Rebecca Schoonover. Schoonover scorched the wet pavement to set a new women's mark of 5:44 and take home the rewards.

Strawberry Girl
Rebekah Lewis will run a mile for strawberries
With many more great runs and smiling faces at the finish, it was time for the awards. Along with tremendous trophies handed out to the top 5 men and women, a healthy dose of random prizes, donated by WVOutside and Fila, were distributed.

After watching the participation in the race almost double from the previous year, race director Mike Snyder is preparing for an even bigger event in 2000. Be prepared for possible age group categories, staggered starts, deeper prize distribution and, of course, plenty of strawberries.