by Shea Weilbaker, Karen Bertasso, and Mary Claire Falotico
This year’s Firecracker 4 Miler saw some fireworks of its own. First the number running was in the thousands and the top eight finishers all ran under 5 minute miles for the entire race. Plus the competition was intense with over 2,000 runners vying for a win or PR.
To follow are the words of the top winner, Shea Weilbaker, who is a Saratoga Springs resident; Karen Bertasso who came in second but was the first female locally and set a record as the second fastest 30+ year old woman ever to run the race; and Mary Claire Walker Falotico, an ultra runner and newlywed who ran with her husband.
I'm from Saratoga and went to high school here so the Firecracker is always a big deal in the summer. It's such a great event and the organizers do a great job every year. The course is mostly flat with a few steep hills at the end. I've been running the firecracker since I was 15 years old and that hill never gets easier. It's always hot on race day so after the race it’s nice to spend the day on Saratoga Lake to cool off!
Shea’s time and pace: 19:11, Pace 4:48
I definitely was not anticipating second place at FC4. Vince Juliano (and team) had done a good job of establishing a competitive elite field. Lucky for me, one of the top contenders from Colorado didn’t make it to town. Although I was hoping to be ~7-8 seconds faster, I didn’t know my time was the second fastest time run by anyone over the age of 30 in the history of the event! Angie, who was first place, is 22 years old and my teammate, Meg, finished third is 24. I think my race showed if you take care of your body, continue to be healthy and run consistently PR’s can still happen even if you’ve been at this level for almost 10 years.
Karen’s time and pace: 22:57, Pace 5:45
It’s barely 0730 and the music is already blasting through the air and people are swarming the streets of Saratoga Springs, all in preparation for the 16th running of the Firecracker 4 Miler. My husband and I signed up for the race on Friday night so we came to the course early to pick up our bibs and race shirts. The check in process was surprisingly smooth for such a large race. We scanned a QR code set up at the entrance to check in, looked up our bib number, then were given our bib and shirt. The the whole process took maybe three minutes. After receiving our bibs we set up chairs next to the finish line, right next to all the team tents. There are throngs of runners, running and stretching up and down the road. Every 10-15 minutes the announcer reminds everyone to come to the start line for the kids run starting at 0820. I did a short smile warm up and some dynamic stretching then we packed up our chairs and cheered for the two heats of the 0.2mi kids run.
The runners all lined up for the race at 0845 and the flag from Ground Zero was presented as well as the traditional singing of the National Anthem. Then we were off. Over 2000 runners all enjoyed the sunny, beautiful streets of Saratoga Springs. We headed up the first hill then made a left turn into the neighborhoods. The streets were lined with people. All the residents of Saratoga Springs were out cheering, spraying water on runners, and playing music. The course is slightly rolling with only two hills to speak of. When we came to the last hill with half a mile to go there was a group of people handing out ice pops, which was a welcome surprise! All in all I highly suggest the race!
Time: Mary Claire-58:24 and John Daniel: 58:25