Distance Classic Kicks Off Relays Week

20K Final Results

5K Final Results

PHILADELPHIA - In perfect conditions for distance running, the 2006 Penn Relays got underway Sunday morning as the Distance Classic 5K and 20K were run.

In the 20K race, Todd Witzleben took top honors as he blitzed the course in 1:05.43. The former La Salle runner, who graduated with the school records in the indoor 5,000 and outdoor 10,000 and was a two-time NCAA qualifier in cross country, is currently a graduate assistant coach at The College of New Jersey. If he looked familiar to some members of the field, perhaps it was because of his recent brush with fame.

Back in February, the distance runner -- who has a 2:21 marathon on his resume -- was the lead figure in Nike's "Chariots of Fire" running shoe television commercial, which was filmed in the mist of California's Pismo Beach and was a marketing tool for the Nike "Force" brand.

"I have been coming to run here ever since I was a junior in high school," said the Buffalo, N.Y. native. "The Penn Relays people put on a great race every year. I ran with a Penn guy for about the first 5K, then was able to get aloneand went from there the rest of the way.

"I had to take eight weeks off recently, but I am looking to try and make it to the Olympic Trials," he said. "This was good preparation for marathon training in that sense, figuring out when I wanted water and those sort of things."

The womens' champion in the 20K was Andrea Niggemeier, who clocked 1:16.22. Niggemeier is an extensive marathoner, and has won the last three Caesar Rodney Half-Marathons in Wilmington, Del. (including her most recent one a month ago).

"This was a lot of fun," she said. "The conditions out there were ideal and I felt strong."

In the 20K team race, The Quaker Elite team of James Roat, John Cassidy and Austen McDaniel defeated a Penn State team of Patrick Murphy, Dennis O'Connor and Ian McCann.

In the 5K race, former University of Richmond distance runner Seann Patrick Mulcahy took top honors with a time of 16:28, while Megan Capewell of Havertown, Pa. was the women's champion in 21:05.