PHILADELPHIA--A beautiful Sunday morning welcomed the 2007 Distance Classic that started the week of Penn Relays festivities.
In the 20K, Chris Nirschel clocked the best time, finishing at 1:06.02. A recent graduate of Penn State and a Pittsburgh native, Nirschel was competing in his first Distance Classic. Nirschel now works and resides in Philadelphia.
"It was a good race and a great experience," said Nirschel. "I really like the course. It is fast and going out and back it is nice to see other people running. It gives you a lot of support. The weather was great with no wind, which was great compared to last week."
On the women's side, Abby Dean brought in the fastest time of 1:16:35. A post-doctoral fellow in Penn's medical school and a member of the Philadelphia Runners Track Club, Dean was competing in her third Distance Classic as a tune up for Philadelphia's Broad Street run and a half-Ironman later this year. Dean finished second in last year's race in a time of 1:18.36.
"I love this course," said Dean. "The drives (in Fairmount Park) are great for running. It is really one of the nicer courses. The weather was great, I just wish there had been more people out."
Both Dean and Nirschel were excited for the Relays to begin later this week and have friends competing in the races.
In the 5K, Tom Rhodes of Willow Grove, Pa. had the top finish with a time of 15:26, setting a course record. The previous mark was 15:44 set in 2002 by Mike Elabarger of Media, Pa. Rhodes coachs track and field at Archbishop Wood High School.
"It was really a great day for racing," said Rhodes. "It was nice to have a break from the weather we've had here lately."
Drexel senior, Kate Bowser won the women's race with a time of 20:48. She is registered to compete in the Olympic Development 4x100 at the Relays later in the week. A biology major, Bowser willbegin medical school at Drexel in the fall.
"The course is good and I really liked finishing on the track (at Franklin Field)," said Bowser. "With the rain last year, I didn't run, so this was fun to finish."
The Relays continue Wednesday with the heptathlon and decathlon while the bulk of competition will start Thursday, April 26 at Franklin Field.