Mary Kessler and a following sea of runners flow over five kilometers

Running and swimming and the fit culture of the beach
August 29, 2023

Girl power - Mary Kessler, 74, was a Cape Gazette Athlete of the Week April 21. I’m going to rerun her biographical sketch. “This 74-year-old, low-mileage runner from Harbeson started late in the sport, but she has a natural talent and fluid style. At the Coastal Delaware Running Festival April 16, Mary ran the half-marathon in 1:56.58, breaking her own age-group state record of 1:57.09. Mary began running when she was 40. Last season, Mary was selected the Seashore Striders’ Runner of the Year. Mary and her husband moved to Sussex County three years ago and live between Routes 23 and 24, somewhere near Hollymount Road. She follows the Jack Daniels running formula (save the jokes). Daniels recommends two to three days of quality running per week, with one day of primary emphasis, one day of secondary emphasis and sometimes one day of maintenance emphasis. When Mary turns 75, a whole bunch of records will be going down, as long as she does not overtrain.” On Aug. 26, Mary won her age group and set a pending state record (70-74) by running 24:59 in the Outlet Liquors 5K, breaking the 25:02 run by Dianna Golden earlier in 2023. The picture of Mary leading a pack of male runners at the start with the Rehoboth Bay as a backdrop tells a story of the steady tides of change in women's sports.  

Strategize and analyze - Coaches talk about KISS – not the punk rock band – as a teaching philosophy: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” The great coaches know how to implement the correct strategies and they can teach it or coach it up. I won’t list any because all that will happen is they won’t care if they made any Fredman list while those left off will go all sour grapes (the act of making something seem unimportant after it becomes impossible to gain) or sweet lemons (“I’m glad I didn't make his dumb old list”).

Ain’t got a handle - I’m not talking CB radio, I’m talking understanding the results of an open-water mile swim in the ocean wearing a wetsuit with the current on your stern. Obviously, the major mission is to stay afloat and not get slimed by sea lice or troll through a school of snapper blues. I trained for the Sea Colony Triathlon in the Lewes Yacht Club pool. My Schuylkill River crawl specialized stroke was a wallowing walrus slow go, but in the ocean’s rough water, my time dropped by 20 minutes. The overall winner in the Rehoboth one-mile swim was David Shackley, 60, of Rehoboth in 20:39. The first woman was Elizabeth Klingensmith, 24, of Uniontown, Pa., in 22:10. Gary Klingensmith, a former Penn State running back (deaf) and later Juniata head football coach, is the cousin of Elizabeth’s father.  

The band - The Cape band will be in the stands Thursday night with no halftime show because a bunch of them have Academic Challenge and won’t be in attendance, said band director Chris Burkhart. “We have 110 members, and we’re doing a Secret Agent show. It's a really fun group.” Cape also hired an assistant band director (full time at the high school). Elly Rolfes just graduated from the University of Delaware. “She’s a percussionist originally from Minnesota,” Burkart said. And so Elly will remain a Vikings fan, you betcha. 

Snippets - The University of Maryland’s field hockey team won 4-0 at Stanford Aug. 25. Maci Bradford had a goal and an assist, while her first cousin Josie Hollamon had an assist. The sister moms Julie and Jody were in the stands. Maryland then beat Cal 4-1 with Bradford getting an assist. Abby Kane, a senior, and Grace Hudson, a freshman, former Cape teammates, are on the roster for the Belmont Abbey field hockey team. The Crusaders are Division II and play in the Conference Carolinas. Belmont Abbey will be playing at Shippensburg Saturday, Sept. 2. The Raiders’ roster includes Henlopen Conference players Mya Kemp, a junior out of Delmar, and McKenna Boyle, a freshman out of Sussex Central. Tuesday, Aug. 29, is cutdown day in the NFL, when all rosters must get down to 53 players. Devon Allen, a 28-year-old wide receiver out of Oregon, three-time national champion in the 110-meter high hurdles and two-time Olympian, is on the bubble in Eagles camp. Google Devon Allen and you’ll find a bunch of articles asking, “What is Devon Allen’s race?” prompted by pondering Caucasians who can't believe a white guy can run that fast. Go on now, git!


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