Battle Royale – 2009

In 2003 the then Philadelphia Track Club took on hometown rivals the Bryn Mawr Running Company in an epic race known as the Battle Royale. The race of the years has become a tradition for both clubs to return to old school cross country racing. This year’s version at Belmont Plateau may have been the smallest, but it still lived up to it’s reputation. Race organizers decided to lengthen this year’s race to 5 miles, two outer loops, one inner loop, and two more outer loops, while the women ran the traditional 5k course.

Despite freezing temperatures (28 degrees at race time) the race drew a fair number of runners and even a few hearty spectators looking for a good show. In battle for first place in the men’s race they were not disappointed.

Ryan Fennelly and Karl Savage of the Jenkintown Running Company (and Ryan’s roommate) quickly broke away from the field after their first trip up Flag Pole hill. Tom Haxton and new teammates Malcolm Richards and Joe Dare took chores up front of the chase pack. By the time Ryan and Karl entered the woods they had a clear lead over the rest of the field.

Just before exiting the woods Karl put a surge on Ryan hoping to break him on the third charge up Flagpole hill. Exiting the woods in third was Darryl Brown of the Chester County Running Company followed by Malcolm and Tom. Karl still had the lead headed up Flagpole for the last time, but by now Ryan had closed the gap. On the downhill after Ryan started making his drive to the finish. Karl, a former World XC team member mind you, was sure to stick right on Ryan. However, using the strength he showed in his 4:06 mile the week before Ryan held Karl off for the impressive win by a mere two seconds.

Chester County Running Co.’s Darryl Brown closed well while Malcolm and Tom rounded out the top five. In the end once again PRTC claimed the team title with a cumulative time of 1:16:50 for it’s top 3 (this year’s race was scored on the cumulative time of the top 3 men and top 2 women from each team)

The women’s race proved to be a run away for Liz Haglund of the Bryn Mawr Running Company. Prepping for next weekend’s US XC Championships in Maryland Liz set a torrent pace from the start to finish in 18:14. The PRTC ladies though matched the men by winning the team title in 38:29. Using a crop of new comers Laura Onderko, Kate Reese, and Kate Bowser proved that the PRTC ladies continue to expand and show dedication.

Special thanks has to be paid to this year’s volunteers; Ross Martinson for course set-up, Ted and Matty for giving out split times, Chester County Running Store for doing the timing, and Bob Schwelm for helping keep the tradition alive with his work and enthusiasm.