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Sunday, March 19, 2000 -- Pickens, WV
Haven in the Hardwood 5K
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3]

Mike Joyce
Mike Joyce enjoys the Pickens hospitality from a local volunteer
A gorgeous Sunday afternoon greeted all the visitors to the small West Virginia town of Pickens. Tucked away on the right-hand fork of the Buckhannon River, this peaceful town's rich heritage warrants its nickname as "Haven in the Hardwood". It was the 16th Annual Maple Syrup Festival, always held the third full weekend in March, that brought the crowds to town this day. This year, for the first time, the packed schedule of events included a 5K run.

So, if the numerous pancakes with pure Pickens maple syrup, countless craft displays, square dancing, woodchopping exhibition, muzzle loading contest, and various other events and sights wasn't enough for you, now you can add a 3.1 mile run/walk through the scenic countryside. Starting just outside of town, the course quickly drops down to an old railroad grade for a flat trail of a little over a mile. The second mile gained elevation as the runners worked their way back to a gravel road for the return run to the downtown finish.

Jonathan Reed
Jonathan Reed makes the hills look easy
When the racing got underway it was Davis & Elkins assistant running coach Sidney Gillispie who quickly began to build a lead and cruised to a first place finish in 18:35. The battles for second and third were not settled quite so easily.

For most of the first half of the race Joshua Brown had a solid hold on the second position while Jonas Anderson and Dan Lehmann raced together for third, just ahead of several more runners. As the two-mile mark approached, Anderson began to surge and reel in Brown. Meanwhile, working his way up through the field Dave Snedeker pulled even with Lehmann as the race headed into a headwind for the final mile. Anderson continued his strong finish as he passed Brown and continued to push ahead for a second place finish at 21:46. Brown's battles weren't over as he soon found Snedeker making a move for third as the finish approached. Digging deep, Brown found the speed he needed to retake his position and finished third in 22:21 with Snedeker taking fourth at 22:24. Lehmann held off the rest of the challengers to finish fifth at 22:37.

Melissa Haveron
Melissa Haveron races toward the finish
The competition was also close among the women with only the first overall finisher, 15 year-old Mary Legg (24:58) able to hold her position from start to finish. Battling for second for most of the race were two more teenagers in Josie Brown and Melissa Haveron. Brown constantly held an edge as Haveron persistently kept up the pressure. However, it was the 41 year-old Elaine Wykle, pacing herself well back in the field early, who would settle the battle. Picking off runners one by one, Wykle moved herself into the second position during the final mile and continued strong to the finish with a 26:11. Brown (26:47) and Haveron (26:53), still within seconds of each other, took third and fourth overall, respectively.

With homemade cookies and other snacks waiting at the finish, t-shirts for everyone, random drawings for prizes, and handcrafted wood Maple leaves for the top finishers, smiles were abundant as the finishing touches were put on a wonderfully organized event. Thanks to all the hard work and generous hospitality of all the local volunteers, the Haven in the Hardwood 5K is sure to become another exciting staple of the annual Maple Syrup Festival. If you'd like to join the fun, you can always get all the details by calling (304) 924-6288 or (304) 924-5096, or visit the web at www.geocities.com/heartland/valley/3597/.