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Sunday, March 18, 2001 -- Pickens, WV
Haven in the Hardwood 5K (iPO Event Id#: 2648)
Story by Johanna Lehmann with photos by Anna Chandler

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [2000 Coverage]

Race Pic
Getting out for a scenic run through the Hardwoods... and soft ground
The weather was not enough to keep the crowds away from enjoying the weekend of many activities at the 17th annual West Virginia Maple Syrup Festival. An appropriate carbo load of tasty regular or buckwheat pancakes smothered with delicious, warm, 100% natural Pickens maple syrup and perhaps a side of sausage. This could keep you fueled up for the other activities that included chainsaw sculpting exhibitions, muzzle loading exhibitions, a puppet show, a square dance, more food, live entertainment, a tour of the museum and a maple sugar camp, a ham & bean dinner, numerous crafters and the 2nd annual 5K run & walk.

Typical of the place and time of year, Sunday's weather may have been enough to frighten off the runner faint of heart. It was snowing up until 9:00am race day, just enough to enhance the charm of the tiny village of Pickens, West Virginia. By noon, the sun was blazing and the temperature had climbed to the low 40s. Yet there was still a hearty breeze to remind you of your time and place; March, "The Haven in the Hardwood", where history has it written that it snowed in July!

The recent weather patterns of snow, rain and more snow had the trail a bit on the muddy side. One runner thought his times were "not bad for running through a swamp!" OK, it was pretty wet, but there's nothing like a good run through the mud, eh? There were 33 runners and 11 walkers in the field ranging in age from 12 to 67 all of whom were present to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and challenge themselves and their winter blues.

As the race began, the runners faced a chilly headwind and vied for their places in the pack while they made their way to the railroad grade along the river. At the first mile the run was already interesting with enough water and mud for everyone, though times didn't seem to be suffering. Jimmy Graves, 22, of Ripley, WV, took an early lead and his muddy legs carried him to the first place finish in 19:32. Afterwards Graves commented that he liked the mud and found the course to be more exciting than your average run through town. Joshua Brown, 19, who was last years 3rd place overall finisher, carved an impressive 2-1/2 minutes off his time and finished second overall this year in 19:58. Taking 3rd overall with a time of 20:24 was Todd Price, 36. Not to be out done by young punks, 4th overall finisher Dan Lehmann, 50, did some impressive time shaving of his own with a time of 20:56, more than 1-1/2 minutes faster than last year.

Seventeen year old Katie Kuba of Buckhannon, WV, finished first for the ladies and set a new women's course record with a time of 22:31. Elaine Wykle, 42, showed the younger ladies what staying power is all about and captured 2nd place over all in the women's class for the second year with a time of 26:32. Erika Thompson, 14, finished 3rd overall in the women's class with a time of 27:21.

At the finish, all participants were greeted with cheers, drinks, fruit and lip smacking home baked goodies. There were also random door prize drawings and handcrafted awards for the top finishers. Even if you weren't one of the top finishers the rewards for getting outside on a gorgeous late Winter's day can't really be measured. So put the West Virginia Maple Syrup Festival and Haven in the Hardwood 5K on your "to do" list and check them out next year (it is the third weekend of every March). As Don Teter stated, "Just to get outside and do something that you enjoy with other people that enjoy it too, that's what's fun and great about this run!" Amen, Don. Isn't that what this is all about? So what if you're not 1st, at least you're not on the couch! Get outside and enjoy!