Sault Stryders
Running Club

Cornfest numbers grow for anniversary run; But future of event still up in air

Reported August 21, 2007 by Donna Schell for The Sault Star
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

A question running across people's minds was whether Cornfest's 25th five-kilometre and 10-kilometre run and five-kilometre walk took its last breath or has been filled with new life.

Nearly 130 runners participated in the silver anniversary in Richards Landing Saturday.

Many were speculating whether the turnout was due to the anniversary that attracted numbers that have not been seen in recent years. In 2001, registration saw nearly 180 people but over the past three years, it has not exceeded 100.

Days prior to the event, the Sault Stryders website posted the following announcement: "This would be the last Cornfest run as race directors are concerned about the lack of participation and the back-to-back timing of the triathlon."

Former race director Ray Stortini has previously said Cornfest numbers have declined since the inception of the St. Joseph Island Triathlon four years ago. Stortini was not available for comment.

Marg Meincke said putting her feet to pavement and participating in the Cornfest run provides her with the opportunity to meet with her friends of today and yesterday.

"It's a social event for me," she said.

The 52 year-old Sault Ste. Marie resident has participated in each run over the past quarter-century, entering primarily the 10-kilometre run. On occasion she has participated in the five-kilometre run.

Saturday, she turned in a glowing performance, finishing first in her age category with a time of 48:59 finishing 33rd out of 57 racers.

Meincke said she is disappointed to learn there are talks over the cancellation of the event, adding it is her understanding a race director has stepped forward for 2008. No name has been released.

"This is one of the few Sault Stryder events still going," she said following the race.

Meincke agreed the anniversary may have contributed to the turnout but for her it was to support Stortini, who she said put a lot a work in to the event.

With respect to the cancellation of Cornfest, Meincke said she doesn't attend the function.

"I come to run, not be entertained," she said. "They are separate identities."

Meincke said her first passion is cross-country skiing and that she participates in running to keep in shape.

"My legs feel strong and I love to run too, but it's sometimes a struggle," she said.

With the Cornfest run under her belt, Meincke has her sights set on entering the Michigan Triathlon and in Sault Ste. Marie the Trail Trot and CIBC's Run for a Cure.

Armande Pieschke, 69, also from the Sault said the close proximity of the island is among the reasons why she has participated in the run for a number of years, along with the support she has received from friends.

"The hills are still there," she said. "They are getting bigger ever year."

Pieschke competed in the 10-kilometre run, finishing first in her respective age category with a time of 1:02:20.

Pieschke said she is impressed with the number of new runners that turn out each year, keeping the tradition alive.

But Pieschke was disappointed with the cancellation of the day and evening Cornfest celebration, which was slated for Saturday as well but cancelled as a result of loss of financial revenue over the past two years, weather and low attendance numbers.

"For 2008, no Cornfest, no run," Pieschke said.

By the numbers

10-kilometre Run

First place male finisher overall was Bart Nichol, 32:49.

First place female finisher overall was June Byce, 43:59.

Youngest entrant, Jullien Flynn, 14, finished 20th overall, 45:38.

A total of 57 entrants.

5-kilometre Run

First place male finisher overall was 14-year-old Phil Graf, 18:40.

First place female finisher overall was a 14 year-old in 21:22.

Youngest entrant, Sarah Hewitt, 5, finished 66th, 42:32.

There were eight youngsters under 10.

A total of 72 entrants.