Per­fect con­di­tions

First-time win­ners Barry-Benedik, Cro­ken win top di­vi­sions at Dunk River Road Race

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JASON SIM­MONDS

Two first-time par­tic­i­pants were the top run­ners in the 38th an­nual Call­beck’s Home Hard­ware Dunk River Road Race on Sun­day morn­ing.

Aron Cro­ken of Kens­ing­ton was the over­all win­ner in 40:52 while Stephanie Barry-Benedik of Stratford was the top fe­male run­ner, stop­ping the clock in 50:01 for eighth over­all out of 37 run­ners.

“I thought it was a great race,” said Cro­ken, 33. “It was per­fect con­di­tions.

“It wasn’t too windy, it was nice and com­fort­able. This race has such a history and it’s al­ways nice to do races like this.”

This was the sec­ond year for the race’s new course, which is still 11.59 kilo­me­tres.

The big­gest change is run­ners no longer have to cross the busy Trans-Canada High­way.

“It seems 100-per-cent safe,” said Cro­ken, who works on a dairy farm in Ir­ish­town. “There are great or­ga­niz­ers and peo­ple in the right spots, so there is no chance of get­ting lost.”

Cro­ken said he took a con­ser­va­tive ap­proach for the first five kilo­me­tres.

“I didn’t know what to do in terms of hills and how I was go­ing to feel,” he said. “Af­ter that, I tried to push my­self and fin­ish strong.

“I didn’t want to lose the race in (the) first four or five kilo­me­tres.”

Alex Bain (44:46), Eric Pet­ley (44:59), Michael Berg­eron (45:42) and Mike Peter­son (46:52) also had top-five fin­ishes.

Barry-Benedik, who is an an­i­mal health tech­nol­o­gist at the At­lantic Vet­eri­nary Col­lege in Char­lot­te­town, said she en­joyed the run­ning con­di­tions.

“I liked the fact it was rain­ing. I like run­ning in the rain,” she said. “It was pretty hu­mid, and it was a rolling course.”

Char­lotte Gar­diner (51:27), Jen­nie Orr (51:33), Con­nie Cof­fin (57:26) and Nancy Nielsen (59:39) rounded out the top-five fe­males.

Barry-Benedik has been run­ning for most of her life. She started run­ning 800 me­tres in ele­men­tary school, and in high school ran the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 me­tres. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school, she moved to Kam­loops, B.C., where she started do­ing 10-kilo­me­tre races.

“I thought only ath­letes did (10 kilo­me­tres) and I was kind of in­tim­i­dated by them, but once I started run­ning fives and 10s I re­ally fell in love with it. Then I started dab­bling with half marathons.”

Cro­ken and Barry-Benedik agreed the tough­est part of the course was ap­proach­ing the fin­ish line at the in­ter­sec­tion of the TCH 1A and the Dunk River Road along­side the Mount Mo­riah Ma­son Lodge.

“Com­ing up the hill with the wind in your face, you are start­ing to feel tired,” said Cro­ken. “That was tough.”

JASON SIM­MONDS/TC MEDIA

Kens­ing­ton’s Aron Cro­ken, above, and Stratford’s Stephanie Barry-Benedik, be­low, were the top male and fe­male run­ners in the 38th an­nual Call­beck’s Home Hard­ware Dunk River Road Race on Sun­day morn­ing.

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