Record crowd turns out for Run With Santa 5K

December 15, 2023

The 18th annual Run With Santa 5K took to the Cape Henlopen State Park trails Dec. 10, setting a new event record of 335 registered participants. The race has averaged 80 to 100 participants for 15 years, but its popularity has grown from a record of 269 in 2022 to this year’s record total of 335. Donations to Toys 4 Tots, Mt. Pleasant Church Food Pantry and the Lewes Elementary School Needy Family Fund will be made with a portion of the proceeds. The event also collected canned goods for the church food pantry.

Aleksander Danilenko, 16, of Lewes was first across the line in 20:13, followed by Ulises Castaneda, 26, of Milford in 20:18. Castaneda also won the 20-29 age group. John Costello, 62, of Milton finished third overall and captured the male masters title in 20:29, while Mike Sewell, 54, of Lewes was fourth in 20:54 and top dog in the 50-59 age group. 

On the female side, Elyse Fuller, 16, of Camden Wyoming won the overall championship in 22:00, while Susan Dunn, 46, of Laurel captured the female masters title in 23:28 with a third-place finish. Eleana Schaffer, 16, of Palmyra, Pa., finished second in 22:33, which was first among 14-19 females.

One of the highlights of the morning was the introduction of the four Let Me Run teams competing in the final 5K of their season. A total of 74 young boys and coaches were introduced by team and ran through the finish line in front of the cheering crowd minutes before the start, with the “Rocky” theme playing in the background. Elementary teams from Lord Baltimore, Rehoboth, H.O. Brittingham and Phillip Showell elementaries took part in the event.

Other highlights include Seashore Striders runner Ruby Leps of Lewes winning the 9U girls age group in 23:41, over a minute faster than 25 9U boys. Mason Woodyard, grandson of my friend Ty Woodyard, raced to a time of 23:56 to win the 10-13 boys’ division, the largest age group in the race with 42 runners. Nick Petito, 16, a Beacon Middle standout, is capable of running 19 minutes, which would have won the race, but he elected to pace his younger brother Joey, 8, to a time of 26:35 (good stuff). Here is another good deed: Andy Gorlich of Milton, winner of the Grotto Pizza 5K, is a sub-20 guy, but he paced his son Deacon, 10, to a time of 28:32. Katie Laughlin, 32, of Lewes, recently started racing with the Seashore Striders and won another age-group title, taking the 30-39 group in 23:45. Rose Furio of Lewes, who could be the happiest person at a race, won the 50-59 age group in 26:20. A nice race from Debbie Blair of Lewes won the 60-69 age group in 25:26. Stephen Perry, 70, of Ocean City, Md., topped regular Woody Disharoon, 74, of Laurel with the 70-79 win in 27:21. Bernie Gallagher, 83, was the oldest in the race, winning the 80-plus age group in 59:30.

Blue Hen Brynn

There’s big news in the high school cross country scene for the small state of Delaware, as it was officially announced on the University of Delaware Facebook page that Indian River standout Brynn Crandell will spend the next four years running as a Blue Hen. Crandell is a four-time Sussex County champion, a four-time Henlopen Conference champion and a three-time Delaware state champion, and she recently finished ninth at the Nike Southeast Regional Championships and eighth at the Foot Locker Championships. Crandell, who had many college choices nationwide, elected to remain in state and is, without question, the finest runner to ever come out of Sussex County; she would easily be mentioned in the same breath with the finest in the state’s history. Brynn will be coached by Kenyetta Iyevbele, a former All-American at North Carolina State who ran professionally for Hoka, specializing in the 800- and 1,500-meter distances. Iyevbele will be assisted by my son, Ben Bamforth. Bamforth was an all-state cross country runner at Sussex Tech, ran for Winthrop University for three seasons and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports management from the University of Delaware.


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