ROCHESTER – Runners flooded the runway at the Rochester International Airport on Saturday as participants came out to compete in the Airport 5km and to meet 1972 Olympic Gold medalist in the Marathon, Frank Shorter.
According to race co-director Jenna VanThof, the Airport 5km is also a fundraiser for Lifetime Assistance, an organization that helps people with developmental disabilities.
“The Airport 5km is Lifetime Assistance biggest fundraiser,” VanThof said. “This race is important to Lifetime assistance because it’s a fundraiser, but more importantly, this event brings community awareness to people with developmental disabilities.”
Previously, Lifetime Assistance held a fundraiserto present a special guest with the Inspiration Award, which went to an individual who had connections with people with developmental disabilities. This year, for the first time ever, Lifetime Assistance incorporated the Airport 5km and a special guest – Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympic Gold medalist marathoner.
Shorter, an accomplished marathoner and four-time US National Cross Country Champion, also shares a connection with Lifetime Assistance. He grew up with an abusive father and has a brother with Down syndrome.
“I felt honored, and I like the connection I have with the Airport 5km and Lifetime Assistance,” he said. “I understand the impact developmental disabilities can have and not only on the individual person, how it is important to give them as normal as life (as possible) but also take pressure off the immediate family. Community awareness on programs like these is important because my brother did not have programs like this growing up.”
As for the race, the men’s winner was Patrick Geoghegan of Syracuse. Geoghegan, a recent college graduate, finished the unique runway course in a time of 15:04. He edged out Mark Andrews of Rochester by four seconds.
“I’m not training for anything special right now,” Geoghegan said. “I am just doing some races around the area for now. I love running too much to give it up after college.”
Geoghegan was on the cross country and track and field team, when he attended Syracuse University. Geoghegan, a native of Chicago, Ill., won last weekend’s Rochester Father’s Day ALS Medved 5km. He also has personal bests in the 10km with a time of 30:04 and in the 5km with a blistering time of 14:21.
In the women’s race Christa Meyer of Fairport built a lead over second finisher Jen Bigham of Rochester by running an opening mile in 5:13. Meyer went on to win the race in 17:11. Like Geoghegan, Meyer also won last weekend’s Father’s Day ALS Medved 5km.
“The day before last week’s race, I was in the sun and on a boat all day, and I think that caused me to be flat and dehydrated for the race,” Meyer said. “I am really happy with today’s performance. I had a good week to prepare for this week’s race and it showed.”
Meyer won by 21 seconds over Bigham who finished with a time of 17:32.
“This is my fastest 5k time in years and close to my personal best,” Meyer stated. “I ran a marathon in the spring, and now it’s time to focus on some fast stuff and try and break 17 minutes for the first time in the 5km. I hope to do that in August at the Bergen 5km.”
The top 3 men and women finishers from the airport 5k won cash prizes. Jason “J-Mac” McElwain, who earned national awareness for Autism for his accomplishments in a high school basketball game, finished the race in eighteenth place with a time of 17:37. The race had 535 finishers, 130 more than last year’s race.