Nearly 500 runners from nine states participated in this year’s Kutztown Fools Run, a scholarship fundraiser for the Kutztown Optimist Club held on March 30.

Race Director Don Sechler, Kutztown Optimist member, credits this year’s turnout to the weather, as well as only two other races in the area scheduled that day.

“This was the first Saturday of any of the last 13 that did not have windy, rainy, cold or snow in the forecast. Approximately 100 registered on Saturday,” said Sechler.

Runners hailed from Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, and Indiana.

Participants range in age from children to the young at heart. The youngest finisher in the 5K was Sebastian Barrell, age 6, and the youngest finisher in the 10-mile race was Brady Gallagher, age 13, from Quakertown. 

Hannah Remaley, age 12, Kutztown, placed 2nd in under 17 group in the 5K.

The oldest male runner was Bruce Cronrath, age 75, of Reading. He ran the 10-mile course in two hours, 13 minutes and 2 seconds. He finished 3rd in the 70 and over age group.

Oldest female runner was Nancie Young, age 78, from Wernersville, who finished 2nd in her 70+ age group in the 5K.

Christine Bitting of Sinking Spring was the first female age 40 or over to finish in the 5K run. Her time was 24 minutes, 17 seconds.

Norbert Maleschitz was the male master winner in the 5K. Logan Smith, Alburtis, was the 5K Overall winner with a time of 17 minutes, 33 seconds.

A traveling trophy was also presented to the winner of the School District Challenge, which is open to all school districts in Berks County.

“It is a four-member team concept with the winning team receiving scholarship money for a graduating student from their school. The Reading School District has been the only team to take advantage of the event, until this year,” said Sechler.

This year’s School District Challenge winner was the Kutztown Blue team. Members of the team are Christian Temchatin, Kelly Mahoney, Jennifer Wyland, Shelby Brett and Tim Mertz.

“The Fools Run offered to sweeten the pot a little. Notices were sent out to 19 high school principals to notify them that if three teams were to enter the challenge, the scholarship money would increase to $750 from $500 and if more than three teams entered it would go even higher,” he said.

Sechler said teams must consist of administrators, staff and employees from the schools, no students.

“It appeared that Reading would again walk out with the scholarship until a last minute entry of two teams from Kutztown beat the deadline. Teams were scored on finishers using the cross country scoring concept. With a mere 3 points separating the top two teams, the Kutztown Blue team scored the victory, and a $750 scholarship.”

As in past years, the Fools Run honored the memory of two local runners.

The 10-mile Run was named in memory of Bob Focht, “Remembering Bob as he was stricken on the course seven years ago,” and the 5K race is named in memory of Sally Miksiewicz, “Remembering Sally, CEO of East Penn Manufacturing, who lost her life after being struck by a vehicle while out for a morning run.”

Also, Sechler enjoys “seeing and recognizing familiar faces of runners that keep coming back year after year, not only local runners but those that travel a small distance to come back to Kutztown.”

“The Fools Run is constantly promoting Kutztown as a great place to visit, to shop in, with great food and friendly people,” he said.

One difference Sechler noticed this year is an increase in the number of Kutztown University alumni participating in the race. The Fools Run has been working with Alumni Relations to build interest among the alumni.

“There were several University alumni that came back to support the effort to provide scholarships to KU,” said Sechler. “The main purpose of the event is to raise money for scholarships to Kutztown University for graduating seniors from the four area school districts, Brandywine Heights, Fleetwood, Hamburg and Kutztown.”

Since the Optimist Club assumed ownership of the run in 2007, more than $125,000 in scholarships has been raised through generous sponsors, and runners fees and awarded to local students through the Donald J. Peters Memorial Scholarship Fund, said Sechler.

Next year, the 2020 race marks the 30th running of the Fools Run.

“The committee is making plans to have a celebration as the Run is one of the longest continuous races in Berks County and Eastern Pennsylvania,” said Sechler.

For full 2019 Fools Run race results, visit pretzelcitysports.com.

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