Kochanowicz, Carpenter take Seaboard Festival 5K titles

15-year-old earns fifth straight victory

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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HAMLET — Dressed in a subdued gray cotton gym shirt and modest sky-blue shorts, Tomasz Kochanowicz doesn’t l0ok like anything special in the moments before the start of a footrace.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Tomasz Kochanowicz, 40, of Fayetteville, won his first Seaboard Festival 5K on Saturday in Hamlet.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Tomasz Kochanowicz, 40, of Fayetteville, won his first Seaboard Festival 5K on Saturday in Hamlet.

At least six other runners were in front of the Fayetteville resident at the start of the annual Seaboard Festival 5K on Saturday in Hamlet. They didn’t stay there for long. Kochanowicz, who turned 40 in May to join the masters circuit, demonstrated that age is but a number en route to a convincing win in the 3.1-mile road race. Kochanowicz crossed the line in 17 minutes and 15 seconds — nearly a full minute ahead of runner-up Kyle Butler, 27, of Rockingham. Brad Scholl, 42, of Holly Springs, rounded out the top three in 20:08.

While the men’s race belonged to the young at heart, the women’s standings reflected the truly young. Natalie Carpenter, 15, of Raleigh, won her fifth consecutive Seaboard Festival 5K in 22:02. Altman Griffin, 14, of Hamlet, was second in 22:48 and Deborah Gardner, 39, of Hamlet, was third.

Kochanowicz placed second in March in the Ellerbe Marathon but soon after began focusing, he said, on the shorter distances. The strategy paid off, as he placed second in his age division two weeks ago in the prestigious Army 10-miler in Washington D.C.

“I’m getting older, but on the other hand” he’s not slowing down. “I wanted to break 17 minutes.”

Three weeks ago, in a final 5K tune-up inSouthern Pines before the A10, Kochanowicz finished in 17:07. He was ready. On Saturday, though, he was all alone after the first few hundred meters. He figured the lack of competition on the race course cost him a few seconds.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Natalie Carpenter, 15, of Raleigh, wearing bib No. 344, nears the midway point of her 10th consecutive Seaboard Festival race.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Natalie Carpenter, 15, of Raleigh, wearing bib No. 344, nears the midway point of her 10th consecutive Seaboard Festival race.

It was Kochanowicz’ first Seaboard Festival 5K. While he only recently began to focus again on the shorter distances of less than 26.2 miles, the Mangum Track Club member said there’s another MTC event that’s never been crossed off his personal running calendar — the Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Classic. Training for that, he knows, would be a far greater challenge than running a 5K or even a 10-mile road race.

“Maybe in the future, Kochanowicz said, to see how far I can go.”

It would be, he said, “something different.”

Carpenter wins — again

When Natalie Carpenter finished the 2009 Seaboard Festival 5K in fifth place, something must have been triggered in her to avoid such a result. Perhaps it was an allergic reaction.

Running perfectly healthy on Saturday, the 15-year-old made her annual return to Hamlet to visit her grandmother, Shirley Lassiter, with family and once again with the 3.1-mile footrace.

“I do this every year,” said Carpenter, who was joined by her father, Eric, during the race

Carpenter is a member of her school’s cross country team; as a member, the terrain usually varies but is on grass or trails and generally produces slower times. That wasn’t the case on Saturday on the 100 percent paved roadways around Hamlet.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Lee Watson, 61, of Hamlet, was recognized by race director and training partner Mark Long for completing his 30th consecutive Seaboard Festival footrace on Saturday in Hamlet. Watson finished ninth overall in 22:08, good for first in his age division.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Lee Watson, 61, of Hamlet, was recognized by race director and training partner Mark Long for completing his 30th consecutive Seaboard Festival footrace on Saturday in Hamlet. Watson finished ninth overall in 22:08, good for first in his age division.

“It’s much easier to ru on road,” Carpenter said, “and the finish is a downhill.”

Carpenter sether 5K personal best, regardless of terrain, on Saturday in 22:08. The effort was aided by a runner-up performance from Griffin, a Richmond Senior High School volleyball player who was only seconds behind Carpenter early on and finished 46 seconds back at the finish line.

“I was trying to keep up with her,” said Griffin, who finished fourth in the women’s standings in 2013 in 23:32.3.

Carpenter’s Seaboard Festival race results:

* 2014 — age 15, 22:02
* 2013 — age 14, 23:01.1
* 2012 — age 13, 23:45
* 2011 — age 12, 23:16
* 2010 — age 11, 22:56
* 2009 —age 10, 24:40 (fifth place female)
* 2008 —age 9, 43:13 (5-mile course, 5th female)
* 2007 — age 8, 52:54 (5-mile course, 5th female)
* 2006 — age 7, 61:33 (5-mile course, 13th female)
* 2005 — age 6, 69:53 (5-mile course, 13th female)

Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, Sports

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