The origin of the term "beginner's luck" probably had nothing to do with running a marathon.
For York’s Andrew Friesema, however, that expression strangely rang true.
Running in his first competitive marathon Sunday, Friesema led the field of more than 85 runners to capture the York Marathon men’s title after posting a time of 2 hours, 54 minutes and 4 seconds. That time also qualified him for the Boston Marathon.
Philadelphia’s Anne Buckley won the women’s marathn crown after posting a time of 3:20:46.
The third annual event was sponsored by the YMCA of York and York County. It started and finished at the York YMCA, but most of the race was run on the Heritage Rail Trail. A half marathon was also run concurrently with the marathon.
“I went out very conservatively, like a 6:50 (per-mile) pace,” said Friesema, who is an assistant cross country and track coach at York College. “And then when I got to the 13-mile mark I started bringing it down to around 6:30. Over the last five I went from 6:15 to like sub 6:00.”
Friesema’s conservative start had him running behind the leaders for much of the race. Wellsville's Sam Baum, who finished second, was ahead of the field for the majority of the 26.2-mile event.
Running behind Baum, however, seemed like a smart idea. Friesema had someone to chase over the last half of the competition. Friesema, 28, was able to use some of the same principles that he teaches the runners at York College to aid in his victory.
“I caught (Baum) with like a mile and a half to go,” he said. “I was catching people the whole time and then I got to him about mile 24.5. From my past training and what we teach our guys at York is to go out conservative and maintain a threshold pace so you have a little bit extra to punch it in over the last mile or two. And that's what I did here and it worked out.”
Friesema enjoyed his experience as well. From coaching at York over the past six years, he was familiar with some of the course. One of the biggest things he liked was the weather, which was a cool 47 degrees when the race began at 6 a.m.
“It was perfect,” he said. “They say it was like 47 degrees to start and they say that to run your top times you will be between 47 and 55 degrees.”
Friesema hopes that the marathon and half marathon, which attracted more than 150 competitors in all, draws more and more attention from local runners over the next handful of years.
“I've helped out training with my buddies during the old Bob Potts Marathon,” he said. “And I was hoping to see something build off of that, and to have something like this I hope it can thrive and become our top race for the locals.”
Women's winner: Unlike Friesema, Buckley is no stranger to marathons. The 2015 Temple grad competed at the Boston Marathon last month but was disappointed with her result so she came to York seeking improvement. She was gunning for 3:30, which she bettered by nearly a full 10 minutes.
“I ran Boston four weeks ago and I didn't do as well as I wanted to,” she said. “I knew I was trained for it, so I kind of rested a little bit. I looked around online and I found this race and I knew it was somewhat close.”
The 24 year old didn’t really know what to expect after registering for her first York Marathon. So she drove nearly two hours in the early morning on Mother’s Day along with her two sisters for support.
It turns out her sisters may not have been entirely needed.
“I really appreciated all the people that were giving me the thumbs up and smiling,” she said. “And when we did the turn around, everyone was clapping and shouting out to keep going, which is really nice to have. Especially considering that I'm not from around here. It was just very welcoming.”
New Bloomfield's Jim Smiley was men's half marathon winner in 1:26:14, while Brenda Hodge was the top female finisher in 1:30:10.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.