Staff photo by Emmy Errante
Matt Wisthoff, along with hundreds of other participants, begins the March of Dimes 5k for Healthier Babies at Mayfaire Town Center on Saturday, Aug. 31.
A total of 269 runners put feet to pavement Saturday, Aug. 31 in a show of support for the March of Dimes and healthier babies. The certified 5k course wound through Mayfaire Town Center with the TrySports field serving as the staging area for start and finish lines. A positive atmosphere and cheerful vibe predominated, aided by upbeat music, a refreshments tent with bananas, orange slices, doughnuts and potato chips and an appearance by the Chick-Fil-A cow princess. The winner, Tom Clifford, a running advocate and personal trainer, finished with a blazing time of 15:15.
“I felt good, it’s my first race back in three months,” Clifford said. “I’m training for New York City, full.” Referring to the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 3, he will have a couple of months to prepare for the full marathon’s 26.2 miles, almost nine times the March of Dimes 3.1-mile distance.
“I’m just starting to ramp things up right now,” Clifford said. “I might do the UNCW Seahawk Invitational next Friday and then maybe some longer distances between now and then, maybe the Baltimore half marathon.”
Clifford described the course as a staple in the area, and a fast one.
The local chapter of March of Dimes covers 11 counties and the proceeds of the race will go to the national office, which funds research for prematurity education, advocacy and community support. The southeastern division does not receive United Way money or federal grant money, and supports itself through fundraisers like the 5k.
Jen Peterken, race director, made this race her project. Tragically, she had a son who was born prematurely and passed away.
“This is my passion,” Peterken said. “We’re trying to make sure that doesn’t happen to other people. We’re raising awareness and money. And this was the best race yet.”
Lee Riley was dressed in the spirit of fun, donning traditional, yet unorthodox running garb.
“I wear the kilt to honor my Scottish heritage,” Riley said. “It always inspires me.”
Riley said he had done several 5ks before and he appreciated the organizational aspect of the March of Dimes race, noting the abundance of help before and during the race by volunteers.
“I tend to turn off the wrong way and run into the woods, but today I found the finish line,” Riley said. His daughter Anna set a personal record.
“I thought it was fun and the markers were helpful,” Anna Riley said.
The rest of the Top 10, beginning with second place, were Matt Wisthoff, Eric Torrey, Rocco Quaranto, Matthieu Des Jardins, Rob Moore, Andrew McIver, Steve Kozischek, Todd McCullough and Kyle Shephard.