2013 Club Award Winners

The following club members were recognized for their achievements over the past year.
2013 Comeback Runner of the Year ADAM SHILLING
2013 Member of the Year DARLISE DIMATTEO
2013 Rookie of the Year KELSEY MENTZER
2013 USATF Female Runner of the Year KIRSTEN BELAIR
2013 USATF Male Runner of the Year DAVID WIECHECKI

2013 Comeback Runner of the Year

As with most good running plans, this journey started over a beer at Washington Street Ale House after Caesar Rodney last March. Adam and I were talking about our race plans for the year, and a deal was struck. I would help him train for a Half Ironman triathlon in September and he would pace me to a 3:50 marathon (a Boston qualifier for me) at the Philadelphia Marathon in November.

As soon as the weather cooperated, we began training for the first event — the Half Ironman. We were biking on Saturdays and running on Sundays. Training was going great until that fateful ride in July. We were riding along Rt. 842 heading toward Northbrook Orchards, with Adam leading the way. He hit wet railroad tracks and went down, breaking his hip.

After emergency surgery and three screws to fix his hip, it was going to be a while before Adam could walk without assistance. Running again seemed like an eternity away.

But Adam was not going to wait for running to come back to him — he went after it. The good fitness level he had going into the accident and the hard work he put into his rehabilitation made the hope of running again in 2013 a possibility. He was back to running a few miles by the time of the triathlon. And, by the end of October, his running had progressed to the point that he was planning to run the first half of the marathon with me.

Adam inspired me to work even harder in my marathon training. I had to be able to finish Philly as if he were there with me. The big day came, and Adam ran the entire race with me, keeping me on pace, and we finished in 3 hours and 50 minutes. My fastest marathon ever; his slowest ever! Three weeks later, Adam ran the Rehoboth Beach Marathon in 3 hours and 35 minutes.

In just four months, Adam went from hobbling with a walker to racing a 3:35 marathon. And this is why Adam Shilling is our Comeback Runner of the Year!

2013 Member of the Year

Darlise joined the PCVRC Board early last year and assumed the position of Membership Coordinator. During the past twelve months, Darlise has not only devoted many hours to PCVRC-related activities, but has also managed to train for, and achieve, one of her biggest and longest running goals – to qualify for Boston.

Darlise’s biggest and most important contribution to both our club and the local running community is the Couch 2 5K program, which began last spring.

She built a strong relationship with Jamie Graham of New Balance Brandywine and Christiana, our partner in this program, and she ensured that the program was successfully advertised, that training plans were distributed and that progress sheets for each participant were tracked and signed. Darlise is also an incredible coach – a great motivator, full of energy and enthusiasm, and throughout the program, she has offered invaluable advice and encouragement to all participants.

She led each of the weekly training runs at the Newark Reservoir, and during the DDC 5K, she ran with the program participants and made sure each successfully completed this first race. Now, several of the Couch 2 5K graduates have joined the club, meet regularly for runs and are training for their first 10-mile race!

During the summer months, while still devoting a lot of her time to club activities and the Couch 2 5K program, Darlise began training for the Philadelphia marathon, with her goal of qualifying for Boston. Darlise is a firm believer in cross-training and continued to bike and swim throughout her marathon training. She even completed the Diamondman Half Ironman at Lums Pond in September.

Her cross-training clearly served her well as she cruised to the finish line of the Philadelphia Marathon in 3:50:53 – a Boston-qualifying time!

We are so proud of Darlise’s achievements; so happy to have her on the Board; and so honored to call her a friend. She is a remarkable individual, and I’m proud to name Darlise our Member of the Year!

2013 Rookie of the Year

Kelsey Mentzer is a 15-year-old freshman at Kennett High School and the 2nd of four children in her family. She and her mom joined PCVRC last July to help prepare them for a half marathon in San Francisco.

Kelsey’s athletic accomplishments began at an early age. She was a competitive gymnast for seven years at KMC Gymnastics in Kennett Square. She won the Pennsylvania State Vault Championship in 2008 before “retiring” from the sport in seventh grade.

Since then, she’s pursued volleyball, field hockey and lacrosse. Her true passion is lacrosse. To stay in shape, she participated in indoor track and found she is an excellent mid-distance runner. Kelsey is ranked on PennTrack as 26th out of 750 freshmen nationwide in the 800m. She holds the Kennett High School record in the 1000m and, with her teammates, in the Distance Medley Relay and 4x800m relay.

A highlight of the indoor track season was running the 800m at the Armory in NYC, a curved banked track with some tough competition. She participated in theDelaware Distance Classic and came in 2nd place for her age group in the 15K. She completed the San Francisco Nike Half Marathon in October 2013 in just over 2 hours, despite the well-known challenging hills of San Francisco. Just a few weeks later, she ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 1 hour 50 minutes.

She will double-sport this spring playing lacrosse and running spring track for her high school.

While Kelsey doesn’t yet know what her focus will be in college, she does know that she wants to play lacrosse at a Division I school. She also has a goal of running the NYC or Boston Marathon when she is older.

Kelsey wants to thank the Sunday club runners for their support, motivation and encouragement.

Congratulations, Kelsey, our 2013 Rookie of the Year.

2013 USATF Female Runner of the Year

Kirsten began running as a freshman at Padua Academy. She was a member of the cross-country and winter and spring track teams for all four years. Kirsten’s senior year, 1990, was her most successful. She was named both Delaware’s High School Runner of the Year and Delaware State Champion in the 4x800m relay, 800m,1600m and 3200m, which were all run in the same day.

After graduating from Padua, Kirsten earned an athletic scholarship to Seton Hall University, where she was – again – a member of the cross-country and winter and spring track teams. During her time there, Seton Hall’s track team won several Big East Conference Championships and ECAC Championships. Kirsten was a member of the 4x800m Big East Championship Relay, her favorite race, she says,where she ran a 2:06 anchor leg. Kirsten was also the 800 leg of Seton Hall’s very successful Sprint Medley Team.

Kirsten earned her Master’s in Elementary Education from Wilmington College,and she now teaches at Odyssey Charter School. She has been married to Mark Belair, also a teacher, for 12 years and together they have two boys, Jonathan, 8,and Jacob, 5.

Although she’s a busy working mom, Kirsten trains for and runs local 5Ks,winning many through the years. Her 5K PR of 17:38 was set at the Wilmington Riverfront. She’s also competed in several half marathons and three full Marathons, two of which were Boston Marathons.

A member of the New Balance team, Kirsten set the state record for Delaware women 40-44 at the Thanksgiving MS 5K, with a time of 18:22. On deck this spring is Broad Street, where she’ll compete as an elite runner.

Kirsten raced for PCVRC this past year at the Adrenaline 5K, the Moorestown five-miler, the DDC and the Rothman 8K with an average age-graded score of over 80!

For her many running accomplishments and her great running attitude, Kirsten is our 2013 USATF Female Runner of the Year!

2013 USATF Male Runner of the Year

Dave Wiechecki has been an active participant in the Delaware running community for many years. Dave discovered his passion for running while attending high school at Archmere Academy and continued to develop his talents at Gettysburg College, where his name still appears on the 1500m all-time list.

Dave also believes in giving back to the sport. He has shared his passion with countless young adults and is frequently spotted with stopwatch and clipboard in hand while coaching local youth programs for cross country and track.

As a competitor in the local running scene, Dave has stayed active competing in 5k road races. In 2012, he increased his training regimen and was a frequent age group winner, attracting the attention of the PCVRC race team recruiter. With a bit of gentle persuasion and a desire to increase his level of competition, Dave joined PCVRC in 2013.

And what a first year he’s had! Dave competed in six USATF Grand Prix races and also took to the trails for three of the off-road races, contributing to the club team score in every race. Additionally, Dave was recognized by the Mid-Atlantic USATF for having one of the highest average age grade scores for 2013. He finished 4th in the season-long individual age group competition for the road race series, averaging over 82%.

Most notably Dave was a member of the PCVRC Masters 50+ XC team competing in the USATF National Masters 5K race. Dave finished 13th overall, 2nd for the team, boosting PCVRC to 3rd place and its first podium position in a national event.

Congratulations to Dave on a great rookie season and being named this year’s USATF Male Runner of the Year! We look forward to having him with us for both competitions and for pushing the pace during our weekly Sunday long runs.

Kristen Stump

Believe it or not, Kristen is relatively new to the sport of road racing. At A.I. DuPont High School, Kristen captained both the lacrosse and field hockey teams and was head baton twirler for the band. (The latter has no relevance to her running career, but has provided endless comic material for her Uncle Jack.)

Alas, 2 ACL surgeries sidelined her from team sports and Kristen channeled her competitive energies toward running. Encouraged by the success of her Aunt Kelly, Kristen started out slowly, entering local 5Ks as a mid-packer.

In 2010, for reasons that are still unclear, Kristen began “secret training” for the Richmond Marathon. It wasn’t until she called Kelly from the finish line that we found out that she had run a 3:57 in her first attempt.

By now, Kristen had “found her legs” which would propel her to success in races ranging from 5Ks to marathons. For [some] of us [editor’s note, ahem!], our PRs are memories, but Kristen has still not reached her potential.

Recent highlights include a 5th place finish at the 2013 Bottle and Cork (in which she finally bested her Aunt Kelly) and a victory in the extremely hilly 2013 “Run for the Buds” Half Marathon (1:35).

Kristen has spent the last three years as a graduate student at the University of Delaware’s School of Physical Therapy where she received the Scholarship Award for the highest GPA and the Faculty Award, given to the student with outstanding leadership qualities.

We welcome Kristen as a worthy representative of the next generation of PCVRC and congratulate her on being named our Runner of the Year. Now if we can only get rid of Dan…