For the record, Zach Kaminski was the first runner to cross the Hatem Memorial Bridge westbound into Havre de Grace Saturday morning.
Behind him were 1,300 others racing 13.1 miles in the inaugural Susquehanna River Running Festival. It seemed appropriate for Kaminski to lead the parade across the Susquehanna.
An outstanding runner and triathlete, he crosses the river every workday — but he does so by automobile over the Conowingo Dam, commuting from Elkton to Bel Air, where he works as a physical therapist.
This time, on foot, his river crossing took 8 minutes, and he finished his half of the half-marathon in 37 minutes to win the relay, which was concurrent with the 13.1-mile race, in 1:12:43. When Kaminski began his 6.55-mile leg of the relay, taking over from teammate Drew Landgren, he had only one runner to catch, Tsia Kiplangat.
Kiplangat, a native of Kenya and a resident of Essex, won the feature race of the festival, the half-marathon in 1:18:45, earning a cash prize and one of the Bryan Bodt decoys presented to each of the race winners. Runners were quick to praise the course and the event preparations, which included coordination with seven different police agencies for the two-county route.
“It’s a fast course. I loved it,” said Jeanette Goetz, of Joppa, who placed fourth in the 40-49 age group in 1:48:06.
There was also praise for the weather forecasters, who predicted that Hurricane Florence would not turn northward. Several other running events in Maryland were canceled this weekend because of the hurricane, but fair weather prevailed on the lower Susquehanna Saturday.
“It was an absolutely beautiful day,” said Billy Boniface, of Darlington, the county government’s director of administration, as he waited at the finish line for his boss, County Executive Barry Glassman. Boniface finished in a personal best, and Glassman bettered his goal of averaging 10 minutes per mile.
The 39-year-old Kiplangat, who has a personal best of 64 minutes in the half-marathon and won Saturday morning’s feature race, passed through the finish arch 6 minutes behind Kaminski.
Finishing second among the men was David Phipps, 54, of Severna Park, in 1:25:17. Jared DeCoste, of Bel Air, was third in 1:26:00; John Bullock, of Baltimore, fourth in 1:26:43; and Jerry Henderson, of Bel Air, fifth in 1:27:26. Henderson edged Mike Feinberg, of Bel Air, (1:28:10) for the men’s masters award.
Nelly Budrow, of Bel Air, won the women’s half-marathon, finishing near her personal best with a 1:27:44. In the top five were Patricia Walsh, of Severn, 1:29:28; Nicole Tamberrino, of Monkton, 1:31:39; Courtney Waldhauser, of Fallston, 1:38:46; and Samantha Barczak, of Rosedale, 1:39:06. Amy Volland, of Baltimore, was the masters winner in 1:39:50.
The second race to start and first race to reach the finish arch at Tydings Park was the 5K. Hyunsun Reilly, a nursing student, who runs for the HCC cross-country team, won the women’s 5K in 20:46. She was sixth overall among the 275 finishers. Behind her in second through fifth were Rachel Clary, of Sparrows Point, 23:54; Silvana Bowker, of Street, 25:02; Michelle Hoffman, of Havre de Grace, 25:36; and Vivian Carrico, of Forest Hill, 25:40. Clary, 56, won the women’s masters award.
Cory Braddy, of Raleigh, N.C., won the men’s 5K in 18:46, six seconds ahead of Joel Woodworth, of New York. Andrew Cantor, of Baltimore, was third in 19:08; Bryce Kroll, of Bel Air, fourth in 19:41; and Jason Guarino, of Abingdon, fifth in 20:12. Woodworth, 40, led the masters category.