This Race Day Could Not Have Been Any Better

Record 3,217 finishers cross line on picture perfect day for running in Allentown;
540 runners complete companion St. Luke’s 5k race

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (April 29, 2011) – Bath, Pa., native and Northampton High School alumnus Tyler McCandless won his second St. Luke’s Half Marathon, holding off two previous race champions before crossing the finish line in 1:09:22. Heidi Peoples, Scranton, Pa., won the women’s race in 1:17:47, besting four-time winner Kathleen Jobes, Bethlehem, Pa., (1:20:03) by just over two minutes.

A record total of 3,217 runners completed the 13.1 mile race on a spectacular day for distance running. Temperatures in the low 40s at the start of the race warmed gradually with cloudless skies and low humidity.

McCandless, winner in 2008 and a former All-American at Penn State, was part of a lead pack of four runners that included 2010 champion Kevin Borrelli (Dickson City, Pa.) and 2009 victor Ramon Laboy III (Bethlehem, Pa.) McCandless said he surged after the 10-mile point to break away from the pack and eventually beat Borrelli by 29 seconds and third-place finisher Jared Markowitz (Cambridge, Mass.) by 42 seconds. Laboy finished fourth in 1:11:21. Joshua Foulds, 24, Allentown, Pa., finished fifth in 1:13:00.

“We had a great pack of four and at about 10 and a half miles I decide to go all in and was able to pull away and come away with a win on this gorgeous day,” said McCandless, 25, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colo. “When I won in 2008, I just took (the race) from the gun; I was a naïve road racer and not afraid of the half marathon. I thought I’d use a little more patience this year. The time was a little bit slower (than 1:07:25 in 2008), and when you’re a little more patient on this course, you can’t get the time back because the last couple of miles are tough.”

Peoples, coming off the birth of a daughter sixth months ago, had a 30-second lead over Jobes after three miles and kept building it throughout the race. The 32-year-old is a two-time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. Unlike McCandless, Peoples admitted that patience wasn’t a virtue in her wire-to-wire victory. “I don’t have a lot of patience, it’s not my personality,” she said. “I felt great the first half, incredible really. But once you hit the Parkway (mile 6.5), it’s the breaking point in the race and you have to be mentally tough.”

Rounding out the top finishers in the women’s race were Kelly Ciravolo, 32, Shavertown, Pa. (1:21:51); Alexandra Swiatocha, 25, Mahopac, N.Y., (1:24:31); and Jenna Papaz, 29, Bethlehem, Pa. (1:26:09).

This year marked the race’s third year as the St. Luke’s Lehigh Valley Half Marathon, as the St. Luke’s University Health Network continues to partner with the race to promote active lifestyles and healthy living. It was the 28th time that the half marathon race has been run in the Lehigh Valley, a legacy dating back to 1977.

The St. Luke’s Half Marathon field represented 30 states and four countries. They converged in Allentown for the largest single-day athletic event in the Lehigh Valley. The course – altered slightly in 2012 because of a retaining wall issue along the first portion of the Lehigh Parkway trail – took runners along city streets, Cedar Beach and Lehigh Parkway, showcasing Allentown’s treasured parks system.

The companion St. Luke’s 5k race was won by Michael Miller, 19, Allentown, Pa., in 16:39. He beat out John Martino, 27, Dallas, Pa. (16:46) and Steve Dodson, 50, Macungie, Pa (17:34). Alyssa Repsher, 13, Easton, Pa. won the women’s 5k title in 20:05. Ron Loebsack (37, Saylorsburg, Pa.) finished second in 21:09 and Laura Eppler (50, Bethlehem, Pa.) finished third in 21:29.

The Lehigh Valley Road Runners (LVRR), a not-for-profit running club, produced the events with the help of more than 600 volunteers.

Proceeds from the St. Luke’s Half Marathon weekend benefit the LVRR’s youth fitness programs, which last year helped more than 2,200 Lehigh Valley children take part in a running activity. It’s projected that the race helped raise more than $30,000 in 2012. In fact, the proceeds helped support the St. Luke’s Youth Run on Saturday, April 28, in downtown Allentown. Nearly 1,100 children aged 3-14 participated in the event, many taking their first steps toward a lifetime of fitness.

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