PITTSTON — Last year Chris McCabe wasn’t happy with his second-place finish in the Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run.
So this year, at the 18th annual event, McCabe used a different strategy.
It worked. And he ran to victory.
McCabe, 26, of Lancaster, broke the tape in 16 minutes and 21 seconds, preventing second-place finisher, Matt Flynn, 30, of Media, from winning his fourth straight Tomato Festival 5K.
Flynn finished 31 seconds behind.
“Last year (Flynn) embarrassed me on the hills,” said McCabe, who ran for Wyoming Area High School where he won junior high district titles in the 400 and 800 meter runs as a freshman.
“This year I made up my mind I was going to pound the hills. I pounded the first hill (Oregon Street) about a mile into the race. I put some distance between us and was able to hold that lead the rest of the way by continuing going hard on the uphills. With one mile remaining, I threw in another surge. Once we hit the downhills, I knew I was in good shape.”
Caitlin Gaughan, who won top female honors, didn’t know if she was in good shape or not, because she said she never looks back.
She had nothing to worry about. This was her third win in the Tomato Festival 5K.
The 30-year-old from Scranton finished seventh overall in 19:03, outdistancing the second-place female, Kelly Curry, 34, of Pittston, by 1:09.
“I kept telling myself to stay calm and relaxed,” said Gaughan. “I took the lead about a quarter of a mile into the race. I felt good at the pace I was running when I moved in front. So I continued to run at that pace until I reached the final mile. At that point I pushed as hard as I could to the finish.”
Kelly said she’s been getting inspiration to run hard from watching the Olympics.
A portion ($4 from each registered runner and walker) of the funds from the race go to Miles for Michael, a non-profit organization named in memory of Michael Joyce who died from cancer in 2006 at age 43. The organization gives funds to the American Cancer Society of Wyoming Valley, Wyoming Unit for Cancer Research and to a permanent fund within The Luzerne Foundation.
Top 3 male overall award winners
Chris McCabe, 26, Lancaster, 16:21
Matt Flynn, 30, Media, 16:52
Mike Batyko, 30, Scranton, 17:53
Male age group winners: 14 & under: Larry Corridoni, Pittston, 20:47. 15-19: Tony Demark, Duryea, 20:11. 20-24: Austin Severns, na, 21:23. 25-29: Kevin Curry, Endwell, N.Y., 21:32. 30-34: Bob Yonick, Camp Hill, 18:29. 35-39: Jeff Pellis, na, 18:37. Masters division: 40-44: Paul O’Hora, na, 45-49: Paul Shaffer, W. Pittston, 19:40. 50-59: Mike McAndrew, na, 19:39. 60 & over: John McCarthy, 28:54.
Top 3 female overall award winners
Caitlin Gaughan, 30, 19:03
Kelly Curry, 30, Philadelphia, 20:12
Jen Swiderski-Yonick, 30, Camp Hill, 20:29
Female age group winners: 14 & under: Nicole Zambetti, Pittston, 20:56. 15-19: Michaelene Mecadon, Pittston, 23:40. 20-24: Renata O’Donnell, Shavertown, 24:47. 25-29: Ann Kaluzavich, Harrisburg, 24:46. 30-34: Kristen Wilce, Old Forge, 23:48. 35-39: Victoria Blazick, Trucksville, 22:17. Masters division: 40-44: Erin Griffin, Kingston, 22:19. 45-49: Carolyn James, na, 23:04. 50-59: Yun Preston, Wilkes-Bare, 25:54.
Starters: Mike Lombardo and Justin Sandy. Timing and results: Scranton Running Company. Race directors: Jay Duffy and Michelle Hopkins.
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at [email protected]