LAUREL RUN — Jeff Skwierz and Marina Orrson ran to victories in the Breaker Brewing Company Giants Despair Mile on Thursday night. The race was the second of three 1-milers that make up the Valley’s Fastest Man and Woman Series.
Both Skwierz and Orrson won the first leg of the series, Elite Spine and Sport Physical Therapy Mile on the track at Misericordia University, and will take commanding leads going into the final leg, Murphy’s Pub Mile at the pub in Swoyersville, set for Aug. 27.
Skwierz won the Valley’s Fastest Series last year and is out to defend his crown. Orrson has won the series the last two years.
Skwierz finished in 6 minutes and 55 seconds. But he had to use a big push late in the race to secure the win.
“(Kyle Suponcic) led for more than over half the race,” said Skwierz, 33, of Forty Fort. “I caught and passed him over the final steep part of the hill late in the race. After passing him, he seemed to be spent and didn’t go with me. And I went on for the win.”
Suponcic, 25, of Shavertown, who finished second in 7:44, probably was spent due to his fast start.
“I won this race last year,” Skwierz said. “I knew what to expect. I wanted to go out easy at the start. But Kyle pushed hard right from the start, so I actually had to run harder than I wanted to early. But Kyle seemed to slow up over the final part of the race. That’s when I was able to take control.”
Skwierz seemed to glide by Suponcic over the final quarter of a mile of the race.
Orrson powered her way to top female honors for an easy win, finishing third overall in 8:02.
“It went well,” said Orrson, 24, of Shavertown. “I was trying to finish in 8 minutes flat — that’s what I did the last two years. There’s not much more you can say about this race other than it hurts. Now I just have to run smart in the final race.”
Leo Kolshorn, 41, of Hawley, was the first male masters (40 and over) finisher, placing fifth in 8:13. Tony Korch was the first male masters finisher in Race No. 1., clocking in at 5:40. He finished Giants Despair in seventh place in 8:53. So the male masters title is up for grabs. Jen Heck was the first female masters finisher, placing 21st in 10:47. Heck also finished first among female masters runners in the Race No. 1. In 6:03. So Heck is a shoo-in to win the masters title.
Giants Despair hill has a 22 percent upgrade over at least one third of the course. The infamous Alpe d’ Huez — the mountain pasture in the Central Alps which is part of the Tour de France bike race — features somewhere in the neighborhood of a 15 percent upgrade.
Biking up a steep hill is tougher than running up a steep hill.
Either way, however, as Orrson says, “It hurts.”
Susquehanna River Runners Club’s Valley’s Fastest Man and Woman Series
Race No. 2, Breaker Brewing Company Giants Despair Mile results
1. Jeff Skwierz, 33, Forty Fort, 6:55.9
2. Kyle Suponcic, 25, Shavertown, 7:44.12
3. Marina Orrson, 24, Shavertown, 8:02.27
4. John Martino, 31, Dallas, 8:04.65
5. Leo Kolshorn, 41, Hawley, 8:13.34
6. Bob Urban, 42, Wyoming, 8:44.36
7. Tony Korch, 55, Nanticoke, 8:53.5
8. Kelsey Cameron, 24, Pringle, 9:00.55
9. Eryn Milius, 30, Plymouth, 9:26.26
10. Ide Nicholas, 20, Meshoppen, 9:34.22
Top masters (40 and over) finishers: Male: Leo Kolshorn, 41, Hawley, 8:13. Female: Jen Heck, 44, W. Wyoming, 10:47.
Field: 62. Starter: Tony Pszeniczny. Timing and results: Susquehanna River Runners Club. Race director: Chris Wadas.
Standings after first two races
Males: Jeff Skwierz, Race No. 1. 4:23.14, race No. 2. 6:55.9; Kyle Suponcic, Race No. 1. 4:51.14, Race No. 2. 7:44.12.
Females: Marina Orrson, Race No. 1. 4:57.68, Race No. 2. 8:02.27; Kelsey Cameron, Race No.1. 5:20.68, Race No. 2. 9:00.55.
Saturday, Aug. 22: Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run at the festival grounds, just off Main St., Pittston at 10 a.m. Info: Jay Duffy, 570-574-0463.
Thursday, Aug. 27: Susquehanna River Runners Club’s Valley’s Fastest Man and Woman Series, Race No.3. Murphy’s Pub Mile at the pub, Slocum St., Swoyersville at 7 p.m. Info: Chris Wadas, 570-592-2820.
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @tlsports.