Field of 2,600 marathon runners springs from a sea of selfies

December 10, 2019

Weirdly unexplainable - Some 2,600 brightly colored runners sprang from the sea at sunrise Saturday morning in Rehoboth Beach, shuffling off for a painfully euphoric experience of completing a marathon or its baby sister the half marathon. There were 600 no-shows, a class of people who have the money, honey, just ain’t got the time. And it seemed everyone brought a relative to capture video by cellphone, while some runners actually took selfies on the run. Harrison Toney, 26, of Richmond, Va., won the marathon in 2:27:38. His wife Kerri, 24, won the women’s title in 2:55:37. Local muppets Holly Smith and her husband Brandon Smith, Dewey Beer Co. guy, ran 3:01:28 and 3:34, respectively. “I just had the most fun out there today,” Holly said afterward. It’s 42 years since the first Lewes Marathon with its 300 finishers. The distance is the same and so is the pain; what is consistent is the fun factor brought by people behind the scenes who love to showcase local culture. The City of Rehoboth understands the hospitality industry; they make major events happen, from fire and police to city government.  

Jumpers and thumpers - I took 5,000 photos of runners Saturday morning. Imagine telling your grandfather, “Hey, gramps. It’s freezing outside and the wind is blowing, so why don’t you get layered up and go play outside for five hours?” The last two times I shivered were for hot and cold reasons. What am I, a Yeti thermos? Once I was shooting a June lacrosse tournament when the field was 100 degrees. The other was Saturday. I actually thought, “Shivering is a good thing. It lets you know you are out there in the wild.” I think it’s pretty much stupid, but like the three guys who ran the marathon shirtless, this is not about prudence and intelligence. My expertise behind the camera at the finish line is that I can anticipate runners ready to jump, crash, throw up or cry. It’s all better than four hours of College Football Game Day on a Saturday morning. 

Tough Cookie Award - A moment of perfect harmony turned to irony as I presented the first Tough Cookie Award in memory of my friend Barbara Dougherty at a hockey banquet four years ago and it went to my granddaughter Lizzie. A wave of emotion crashed over me. I’m not a tough cookie; I couldn’t handle the moment. I told everyone, “If you lose composure at a black church memorial service, the congregation will come to your rescue. I lost it at Sammy Leggins’ funeral: ‘It’s alright, coach, God is with you,’ but I joked, ‘White people just let you twist. If anything, the room gets more quiet.’” On Friday night, the Tough Cookie Award went to Abby Kane, and she certainly deserved it. I wish I could have presented it and told her the backstory, but besides Fred Harvey and Eric Gooch, there was no one in the room who was coming to rescue me. I’m a tough cookie, but also brittle. 

Embrace it then leave It - On an October afternoon in 2016, Cape lost a state tournament quarterfinal field hockey game to Robin Adair’s Tower Hill squad. The loss ended Cape’s 100 straight wins against Delaware opponents. Coach Kate Austin told them to remember they were part of that magic and to go out and make new memories. That class of freshmen went on to win three straight state titles with a perfect 9-0 record in state tournament play, all nine wins coming by shutout. Cape had all 10 state title trophies on display Friday at Baywood Greens. There were eight from the last nine years and 10 from the last 50. The numbers are just crazy.  

Southern Slam - Cape wrestling finished 15th out of 47 schools at the prestigious Southern Slam tournament in South Carolina over the weekend. The Vikings had four place finishers, including Luke Bender (138) and Jackson Handlin (215) for third place. Andre Currie (170) placed fourth and and CJ Fritchman (126) placed seventh. Cape will wrestle at Milford Wednesday night. The JV matches start at 6 p.m. followed by the varsity match. 

What time is it? Cape boys’ basketball plays at Sussex Tech Tuesday night, while the Vikings girls host the Ravens. The girls then play at Caesar Rodney Thursday, Dec. 12, before playing American Heritage School out of Florida Saturday at the St. James Sports Complex in Springfield, Va., as part of the She Got Game Classic. St. James is 134 miles away right off the Washington Beltway. You have to be a real fan or a relative to travel to that game. The Caesar Rodney boys, now under the direction of head coach Frank Victory, have been pasting opponents this early season. They are at the Big House Friday night to take on the Vikings.

Snippets - Two high school sports that are hard to continue in college are wrestling and swimming. Reasons are the ultra competitiveness of each sport balanced with the motivation and time required to spend in the pool or wrestling room. An interesting longitudinal study would be to check in with all-state athletes by sports a decade or two or three after college to see which ones are still mobile and agile or just simply fit, which rhymes with go on now, git! 


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