At the end, it came down to less than seven tenths of a second.
That elapse of time — the duration of blinking seven times — separated 2014 first place finisher Titus Rotich, 35, of Philadelphia, from the course record of 24:41. Rotich finished in 25:08. Understandably winded but smiling broadly, Rotich described the five-mile course as “slopey and hilly” but nonetheless enjoyable. This native Kenyan won as a first-time participant in the Ninth Annual Valley Forge 5-Mile Revolutionary Run April 27, a yearly competition sponsored by the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The event sends athletes by some of the most iconic scenery the park has to offer, including the replica huts along the Muhlenberg Brigade, the National Memorial Arch and statuary tributes to Generals “Mad” Anthony Wayne and Wilhelm von Steuben. Proceeds fund park improvements, and since its 2006 start, more than $160,000 has been used to keep the park vital and engaging for visitors from the world over.
Four tenths of a second after Rotich finished, with a time of 25:12, Andrew Weaver, 23, of Delaware, crossed the line. The setting proved particularly engaging for Weaver.
“It’s very scenic,” he said, referring to the expanses of open fields and copses of flowering trees. “If I weren’t in a race, it would have been nice to slow down and look at everything as I was going by.”
Third place finisher Darryl Brown, 31, of Downingtown, like winner Rotich, was a first-time Rev Run participant.
“I feel very accomplished,” he said of his time, 25:47. He, too, concentrated on his performance more than the surroundings. “Most people aren’t paying attention through the course, but it really is beautiful.”
Top-finishing women were Brianne Strenkowski, 24, of Philadelphia, coming in at 30:46; Samantha McNally, 27, of Lancaster (31:15), and Meghan Smith, 22, of Avondale (31.18). In commenting on her performance against an admittedly tough course, McNally said that she “liked the hills. But then again, I lived in Pittsburg. I’m used to hills.”
Eight-year-old Owen Bress of Philadelphia finished in 47:12, alongside his dad, Mark. Were the five miles tough for this third grader?
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I just never stopped running. I just kept pushing, like when taking a test.”
The reasons runners compete in the Rev Run are as personal as they are; however, one of the most unusual motivations came from Kyle Cassidy, Philadelphia, who ran as a benefit to City Kitties, a cat-rescue organization. Cassidy began an online campaign, challenging his blog readers to contribute $500 for him to run in a full George Washington Continental Army uniform. When that threshold was crossed, he upped the ante to run while carrying a toy cat and then provide video updates at every mile post.
Cassidy’s fans came through, and he traversed the five miles looking like the esteemed General chasing redcoats.
“This is padded polyester,” he said of his decorative duds. “It’s about as breathable as a plastic bag.”
Despite the discomfort, Cassidy ended with a time of 52:02.
And then there was Darryl Turpin, of Team Sheraton Valley Forge, who logged a time of 1:19:30. His progress may have been slowed by his unorthodox running style: backward.
“I was hit by a headwind right at the start,” Turpin explains, “and I put my back to it. I just decided to run the rest of five miles that way.”
In addition to the five-mile run, the event — tied to the conclusion of National Park Week —included a three-mile walk and a 1,776 km Young Patriots Fun Run. The day’s proceedings drew nearly 1,400 people across all three components.
For more information about the event and race results, visit www.revoutionaryrun.org.