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A visit with the July 4th winners

July 21, 2009 - Erik Brown
Kudos to the Hollidaysburg YMCA on another wonderful edition of the July 4th races in Altoona earlier this month. Yes, there was a minor delay before the races began, but I saw nothing but smiling faces in the crowd afterwards.
I recently spoke with each of the overall winners of the Hollidaysburg YMCA July 4th Races. Here is what they had to say:
Emiley Stapleton – Overall Women’s 5K Winner in a time of 21:12
ATW: How is your training going?
E.S.: My training is going well. I just got back from PSU cross country camp. I logged 50 miles in 5 days at camp. I honestly didn't run much before the race on the 4th. I took some time off after my outdoor track season, and have been busy with work and everything. I ran like 3 or 4 miles the week before the race!
ATW: What are your racing plans for the remainder of the year?
E.S.: I ran the Liberty Days 5K race in Roaring Spring on July 18th, but I think it was too much, too soon since it was the day after I got back from PSU. I had my eyes on 1st place again, but finished 2nd. I will run XC this fall for Bellwood Antis.
Editor’s Note: Emiley was a 2008 PIAA State XC Qualifier. Her D6 Meet time of 21:26 was good for 16th place and an at-large ticket to states. She will be a junior this year and appears to be headed for her best season yet.
Jim Spisak – Overall Men’s 5K Winner in a time of 15:47
ATW: How is your training going?
J.S.: It’s going good. I’ve been doing a lot of base mileage. I plan to start adding some speed work this month.
ATW: What are your racing plans for the remainder of the year?
J.S.: I’ll be attending Duquesne and running cross country for their team this fall. I’ll be focused on that, so I won’t be doing any other road races.
Editor’s Note: Spisak comes across as a modest and genuinely nice guy. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t guess that he had an incredible high school career as a runner. By my count, he won seven District 6 titles (XC and Outdoor Track & Field combined) and earned six PIAA State medals, including a 3rd place finish at the 2008 PIAA XC Championships, and two Outdoor Track & Field 2nd place finishes (the 3200M in 2008 and the 1600M in 2009). Without a doubt, Duquesne has landed a gem.
Gina McGee - Overall Women’s 15K Winner in a time of 1:01:08
ATW: How is your training going?
G.M.: Good! I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon in May and I took some time to recover from that race. But I was able to get back into my training and I’m happy with how well I was able to run today.
ATW: What are your racing plans for the remainder of the year?
G.M.: We’re focused on the Johnstown Marathon. My husband runs too, he ran today (4th overall in 56;23). We both won at Johnstown last year…
ATW: You both won? You were both overall winners in last year’s Johnstown Marathon? (What can I say, I didn’t know)
G.M.: Yes.
ATW: Wow, that’s great! My wife and I have done some marathons together… in fact, we’ve got 5 kids and the whole family runs. It’s a nice thing to share…
G.M.: Yes, it really is. We’re both running Johnstown again this year. So, our training is focused on that.
Editor’s Note: In fact, Gina McGee is the two-time defending champion of the Johnstown Marathon. She won the 2007 race in a time of 3:09:33 and repeated in 2008 with a time of 2:58:53. Her husband Michael won last year’s race in a time of 2:47:47. He finished 3rd in 2007 in a time of 2:55:02.
Regrettably, the Johnstown YMCA recently posted this notice on their website: The 2009 Marathon originally scheduled for October 4, 2009 has been cancelled for this year. Due to economic times it is not feasible to hold this event this year. We hope to build sponsorship support in 2010 so that this long standing event can be held again next year.
A.J. Kelly – Overall Men’s 15K Winner in a time of 53:04
ATW: How is your training going?
A.J.K.: Training is going well. I've been building my mileage up over the past month because I took 2 weeks off after the Buffalo Marathon. I'm just reaching 90-100 miles a week now, which is where I'd like to stay for the next 3-4 months or so. I typically do a weekly long run of 20-22, a mid week semi-long run of 16-18, 2 harder paced runs of 12-14, and 3 easy runs of 10-11. I’m holding off on speed or intervals until fall when I get into more races.
ATW: What are your racing plans for the remainder of the year?   
A.J.K.: I’m planning to run quite a few bigger races in Pittsburgh this fall.  I'd like to do the Steelers 5K, The Great Race 10K, and the IKEA half marathon all in September.  I haven’t yet decided on a fall marathon, but I would like to do one - possibly Philadelphia in November.  I also want to do the rest of the YMCA races this year. Next spring I'd like to run the Pittsburgh Marathon in May.
Editor’s Note: A.J. narrowly missed qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2007 posting a 2:22:44 at the Bank of America Marathon in Tampa, Florida – missing the qualifying cutoff by a precious 44 seconds. He made another attempt at the 2007 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, but temperatures in the 90’s and brutal humidity ruined any chance of running a fast time that day. Here’s hoping we’ll see A.J. at the next Trials.

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