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Runners enter Genesee Street in Montour Falls from the Shepard Niles grounds.

A fully wet Half Marathon

Scalfone repeats as men's champ; Aldridge paces the women

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 23 -- The rain poured, and poured, and poured some more -- and the runners ran anyway.

Competitors in Sunday's second annual Catharine Valley Half Marathon didn't let a little deluge deter them. In fact, they welcomed it in comparison to, say, the heat of some summer races.

"It was surprisingly pleasant," said one male runner after Sunday's race. "There were a lot of trees along the way, shielding us from the rain, and when they weren't there..." The man shrugged and smiled.

"It was a lot of fun," said Sam Capozzi, a 17-year-old senior at Odessa-Montour High School, who was running in his first Half Marathon. His mother, Meg Cabezas, also ran.

"The rain wasn't bad," said Katie Aldridge, a Mecklenburg farmer who was the fastest woman in the field, finishing in 1:26.16.

Added another runner: "We weren't overheating."

Indeed, many of the estimated 208 runners -- after completing the 13.1-mile course that ran from the Watkins Glen High School grounds, down the Catharine Valley Trail to Montour Falls, along Montour Falls streets, back onto the CVT, to a turn-around for the return to the WGHS track -- were visibly chilled after the race as the rain and wind intensified and the temperatures dipped.

"Quite a change," said one observer, referring to the mostly hot weather in the Southern Tier this suimmer.

Among the soaked was the men's winner, Nick Scalfone of Ithaca, who won the inaugural issue of the race the summer before -- on a day that was dry and considerably warmer. The Cornell University lab technician said he was satisfied with either set of conditions, noting that the rain was no more a deterrent than the heat had been. But he wasn't pleased with his winning time of 1:11.57.

"I'm just not among the elite," he said, although his Half Marathon competitors might disagree.

Aldridge didn't compete in last year's race, in which the women's title was won by Kim Harrison. Harrison was in second place this time around.

The rain, steady overnight, kicked up a notch in intensity as the race was about to begin, relented a little for the start, and then came down heavily again -- and stayed that way throughout the race. The wind picked up after three-quarters of the field was in, so the slower runners had even more to contend with on their approach to the WGHS track: a strong headwind carrying rain on the horizontal.

The track itself was ponding at the south end, where runners splashed their way around the final turn on the way to the finish line.

But the mood was upbeat. Said race director Dustin James: "Despite the rain, I think we had a great race today, and it sounds like the runners enjoyed the rain for the most part."

The number of entrants was up significantly from last year's 125.

Top 3 Overall Male:
1. Nick Scalfone, Ithaca, 1:11:57 (unofficial), breaks own course record (inaugural course was 13.4 miles; his finish/record was 1:17)
2. James Derick, Horseheads, 1:14 (unofficial), bests '09 time of 1:19
3. Andy Hughes, Elmira, 1:15:30 (unofficial), bests '09 time of 1:24

Top 3 Overall Female:
1. Katie Aldridge, Mecklenburg, 1:26:16, establishes new course record, besting '09's 1:35 set by Kim Harrison on 13.4-mile course
2. Kim Harrison, Ithaca, 1:31:19, bests '09 time of 1:35
3. Heather Horth, Corning, 1:32 (unofficial)

Photos in text:

Top: Katie Aldridge and Nick Scalfone, who won the women's and men's titles. Scalfone also won the race last year.

Middle: Runners make their way downhill toward the South Genesee Street crossover on the Catharine Valley Trail.

Bottom: Erin James of Ithaca looks toward a friend off-course as a race official removes the lower half of her number tag just after James completed the race.

The runners -- about 200 of them -- start the race at the eastern edge of the WGHS grounds.

Left: Sam Capozzi and his mother, Meg Cabezas, who both ran in the Half Marathon. Right: Competitor Tim Benjamin.

Spectator watches the passing runners from a spot along Genesee Street in Montour Falls.

Left: Competitor Gail Bauman after the race, with husband Steve. Right: Becky Henderson of Painted Post approaches the finish line.

Race officials pose before the start of the Half Marathon.

Left: Women's winner Katie Aldridge strides uphill on the Catharine Valley Trail south of Montour Falls. Right: Greg Gronski of Corning splashes his way along the WGHS track as he approaches the finish line.


© The Odessa File 2010
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869