Ed Whitlock Breaks Age Group World Record at GBTC Half Marathon!
GRAND ISLAND, NY - Canadian Ed Whitlock, running in the 7th annual Greater Buffalo Track Club Half Marathon, shattered the 70-74 age group world record. Whitlock sped over the USATF certified loop course in an astounding 1:22:23. He finished 14th overall in the field of 285 runners. The race took place on Saturday April 21 on Grand Island. The fleet Canadian bettered the old record of 1:27:44 set on May 2, 1997 by then 72-year-old John Keston of McMinnville Oregon.
Whitlock, a retired mining engineer from Milton, Ontario, turned 70 in March and now seems poised to set world records in every distance from the 1500 meters to the marathon.
The overall winner of the race is also a masters athlete. 1999 U.S. Masters Marathon Champion, David O'Keeffe, won in 1:10:09. O'Keeffe, a 42-year-old physician from nearby Orchard Park, led from start to finish.
The winning performance makes O'Keeffe only the second runner to repeat as the overall winner in the GBTC Half Marathon. He also was victorious in 1999. Joe Biasillo was the first to do it by winning in 1995 and 2000. O'Keeffe also came tantalizingly close to winning the event in 1997 when he battled valiantly with Paul Hulme. With O'Keeffe's help, Hulme set the current course record that year by clocking 1:08:13. No man or woman has yet won the overall title in consecutive years.
In the women's competition, 37 year old Deana Sikora emerged victorious in a time of 1:28:43. Deana races locally only rarely. She may be best known for her stunning victory in the 1999 Linda Yalem Memorial 5k run -- until now.
This year's event showed a continuing trend in participation demographics toward older runners. Not only did a masters athlete win the race overall, but 65% of all finishers were over 40. The largest number of finishers belonged to the male 45-49 age group and 25% of all finishers were between the ages of 40 and 49. The most senior finisher was Henry Sypniewski, 82, from Cheektowaga New York. Sypniewski won his age group with a time of 2:14:43.
There was plenty of spirited age group competition in the race. In the male age 50-54 group, Stephen Forrestel seemed well on his way to an age group course record when disaster struck. "I got a side stitch so bad I had to walk" said Forrestel. "I watched helplessly as six guys ran past me", Forrestel continued. "But then I saw my younger brother (Peter) and I couldn't let him beat me!". Steve ignored the pain and ran hard enough over the last mile to almost catch the age group winner, Fran Emmerling. Emmerling ran 1:24:17 to Forrestel's 1:24:46.
In the men's 45-49 age group, Larry Krajewski emerged the winner in 1:19:01, an even faster performance than his age-group-winning time of the previous year. Following Krajewski was the trio of David Alessi, Peter Forrestel, and former GBTC club president, Tom Donnelly.
The women turned in great performances too. Judy Arlington won the 30-34 age group in 1:29:15. Joanie Hays had a huge lead over her nearest competitor, Sandra Fudala, by racing to a 1:34:27 clocking. In the 40-44 age group Sue Munson continues to dominate. She clocked an excellent 1:30:24.The most senior half marathon finisher among the women was Edna Hyer. Hyer won the 65-69 age group by completing the course in 2:30:23.
Hi-lighted by Ed Whitlock's age group world record, race director Dan Loncto, declared the event a big success. The weather cooperated too, temperatures were cool with overcast skies, but some runners were hampered by moderate headwinds.
A feature of this year's race was the replacement of the ubiquitous race t-shirt with a nifty commemorative runner's travel bag. The runners loved it. The bag was the brainstorm of race director Dan Loncto. Loncto, one of the more experienced event directors in the region, had ordered enough produced so that every runner and every volunteer was able to receive one. It doesn't always work out that well.