Parsons conquers Mile Challenge

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The Delaware Mile Challenge was a unique event, to be sure, on the recently renovated track at The Tatnall School. On Saturday evening, April 9, runners of all ages took to the track to challenge the mile distance. Well after dark, the excitement had built to a crescendo, as the elite men and women took to the oval to compete.

photo of a victorious Sam Parsons
A victorious Sam Parsons is all smiles after clocking the first sub-4 mile in Delaware.

“Homefield” advantage theoretically should have meant nothing, as among the field of 13 elite men there were four runners who had already broken the 4-minute-mile barrier at least once. One of those competitors, however, was CRR Sam Parsons (son of CRR George Parsons and CRR Christina Parsons), who grew up in Newark and ran track and cross country for Tatnall during his high school years.

It appeared early on in the men’s elite feature race that Parsons, who trains with Colorado-based Tinman Elite, was ready for the challenge. Through the initial lap, he was in good position in fourth. Moving up, he took over third during the second lap, staying close to a 60-seconds-per-lap pace while battling with three professional runners from Baltimore’s Under Armour club—two in front of him and one right behind him.

By the back stretch of the final lap, Parsons had moved up and positioned himself right behind the race leader, Casey Comber. With just a half lap to go, both were right around 3:30, setting up what would be a frenetic sprint finish.

With the volume increasing to a roar from the hundreds who lined the track to cheer him on, Parsons out-sprinted Comber on the final straightaway and, in doing so, eclipsed the 4-minute mark—the first time this had been done on Delaware soil. Parsons clocked in at 3:58.17; Comber finished just 0.27 seconds behind, also going sub-4. The previous best mile run in Delaware had been run 50 years ago, indoors, at 4:01.1.

photo of Sam Parson addressing the crowd
Sam Parsons addresses the crowd after his historic win.

While not taking a victory lap, Parsons did take the mic to thank the crowd for helping to make The Delaware Mile Challenge such an energy-filled and memorable event. He also thanked his high school coach, Pat Castagno, who is Tatnall’s track-and-field and cross-country coach and whose own coach while at the University of Delaware was Delaware’s legendary CRR Jim Fischer, who presented the master’s mile race during the event.

By winning the elite race, Parsons bagged $2,500 in prize money. By breaking the 4-minute mark, he also walked (or maybe ran?) away with a $500 bonus, making it a very satisfying (and profitable) trip home!

The elite women’s winner, Molly Sughroue, of the Colorado Springs Track Club, ran away with the race, a new in-Delaware women’s record, and the same prize money.

Collectively, Creek Road Runners congratulate one of our own. Way to go, Sam!

Of local note is the fact that CRR Jim Bray, a Newark High School alum, once held the Delaware high school mile record for 28 years before it was broken in 1999.

The world record in the mile is still a mind-boggling 3:43.13, set by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999.

Attacking the record books

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About every five years, CRR Diane Kukich hears opportunity knocking at her door—specifically, looking at the age-group state records that may be within her grasp. Well, it didn’t take long for Kukich, who turned 70 in February, to take aim at and break a couple state age-group records.

photo of Diane and Christine Kukich
Record breaker CRR Diane Kukich with running daughter Christine in Philadelphia

On March 5 at the Attack Addiction 5K in New Castle, Kukich placed first among the 70-and-overs, finishing as the 25th female and 103rd overall out of the massive local field of 1,567, with a 25:08. Her time eclipsed the old 70-74 state record by 47 seconds.

Perhaps even more impressive was the most recent record she broke, which had stood for 31 years. At the Hot Chocolate 15K in Philadelphia on April 2, amid 1,779 runners from all over the East Coast as well as a few other parts of the country, Kukich smashed the Delaware 70-74 age group record for the 15K (9.3-mile) distance—a long race for her—by a whopping 6:05! She crossed the line in 1:28:13, finishing as the top 70-and-over female and placing 305th among all women and 549th overall.

Five years ago, Kukich broke and still holds Delaware’s 65-69 age-group record for the five-mile distance as well. For a time, she held the 10-mile record in the 50-54 age group, and, until last year, also held the 20K record in that same age group.

Currently, Creek Road Runners now hold 15 state age-group records in total, with Kukich keeping her eyes on some upcoming races at other distances.

Best of luck to a super senior!

The quest for the 4-minute mile in Delaware

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The Delaware Mile Challenge

On the evening of Saturday, April 9, elite milers will gather along with others who like the challenge of an open track mile for a set of races at the Tatnall School track. The four-minute mile barrier has never been broken in Delaware, though there have been at least two young Delawarean men who have achieved that feat recently, although not on First State soil. The fastest mile ever clocked in Delaware was a 4:01.1, way back in 1972.

photo of Sam Parsons making eye contact with an Ethiopian competitor

First and foremost, CRR Sam Parsons, the Newark native and Tatnall alum who has eclipsed the mark a couple times within the past few years, will be ready to give it a go. Since his successful collegiate career at NC State, Parsons has been training professionally with Tinman Elite out of Boulder, Colo., and has had some success at middle distances representing Germany (his mother, CRR Christina Parsons, is German-born) internationally. His fastest (non-track) mile is 3:55.00.

News Journal photo of Kieran Tuntivate

Then there’s Kieran Tuntivate, a Charter School of Wilmington grad who recently completed his college running at Harvard, who will join Parsons to try to smash through the barrier in his home state. Tuntivate has recently been running internationally for Thailand, from where his father hails. His fastest outdoor mile is 3:57.87. Former Harvard runner and CRR Bruce Weber calls Tuntivate “the best Harvard distance runner ever.”

There will be a few other entrants who’ve also broken four minutes in the mile.

The event, which is open to all, is being organized by University of Delaware running alum Pat Castagno, who is Tatnall’s track and field coach.

The schedule will be as follows:

5:00 p.m. – middle school boys and girls
5:15 p.m – community mile for kids 11-and-under, who may be accompanied by parents
5:30 p.m – high school girls mile
6:15 p.m – high school boys mile
7:00 p.m. – open mile, for those 18 to 39 or others not on high school team rosters
7:20 p.m. – women 40-and-over
7:40 p.m. – men 40-and-over
8:20 p.m. – elite women
8:40 p.m. – elite men

Race registration for non-high school runners is $10 per runner by April 7 and includes a race shirt. Admission cost for spectators is $5.

Racing through March

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We’re transitioning from winter into spring once again, and there have been a few notable racing achievements this month.

photo of Bruce Weber

On March 13, at the 21st annual Logan House 5K in Wilmington, CRR Bruce Weber was one of several competitive senior runners to finish well up in the overall results. Weber finished 5th overall and 2nd among the 60-64s in 20:18. Among the 60-year-olds, there were four runners in the top 12 of the race, all under 7-min./mile pace. Looks like this is perhaps the strongest 10-year age group of all the northern Delaware–area men runners.

photo of April Anderson

On March 19 in Virginia Beach, 77-year-old CRR April Anderson completed the Yeungling Shamrock 5K in 1:05:28, placing 3rd among 18 participants in the 75-79 age group in this, the 50th anniversary of the Shamrock Marathon Weekend of racing, a mega-event on the East Coast. She also placed 3rd among her age-group peers in the March 20 local Fusion Run for the Buds 5K.

photo of Clark Ridge
photo of Andrew Weber

On March 26, in the First State Half Marathon, Newark native and CRR Clark Ridge, son of veteran CRR Doug Ridge, was the top master’s runner, clocking a 1:17:16 and finishing 5th overall. Newark’s 42-year-old CRR Andrew Weber (right) placed 16th overall in 1:23:11 and won the men’s 40-49 age group (as Ridge, who is also 42, took top honors).

photo of Doug Repetti

And much like the Eveready Energizer bunny, CRR Doug Repetti just keeps going and going. In the same race, the septuagenarian won the 70-and-over age group with a time of 1:59:53, placing him 131st overall out of 331 competitors and 55th among the 103 men’s masters.

Congratulations to all!

Now, on to warmer weather.

Riordan moving on, moving up

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photo of Charlie Riordan

As of July 1, 2022, CRR Charlie Riordan will assume his new position at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, N.Y., as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Riordan, UD’s Vice President of Research, Scholarship and Innovation, came to the University of Delaware faculty in 1997 and quickly came onto the Creek Road running scene. CRR Mark Deshon still remembers his introduction to Riordan back then while running on Creek Road. “I was curious about who this guy was in the basketball shirt running ahead of me, so I caught up and introduced myself [and him to Creek Road Runners], and we became friends and running companions.”

1999 photo of “Millennium Men”

In 1999, Riordan was one of five “Millennium Men” who ran the initial “Wring Out the Old, Ring in the New” trail run—Creek Road Runners’ annual holiday season run at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.

photo of Bruce Weber

Dean of UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and CRR Bruce Weber says of Riordan, whose primary role in recent years at UD has been administrative, “Charlie is one of the most principled colleagues with whom I’ve ever worked.” Weber added that Charlie has always had the best interest of the University in mind when it came to making critical decisions for the institution. That’s truly high praise from one of our fastest runners.

As a scientist, Riordan has been elected to both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Though we’ll be sad to see him move out of the area, we hope Riordan will make it one of his first priorities to initiate a Creek Road Runners outpost on Long Island.

Congratulations, Charlie!