Tonawanda News —
It took North Tonawanda's Alex Farrell eight tries, but on Sunday the 22-year-old former Lumberjack finally broke through and crossed the finish line first in the annual "Tim Frank Memorial" 4-miler race to kick off Canal Fest week.
Farrell ran the race in 22:36, becoming the first Sunday champion in the race's history.
Despite the extremely hot weather, Farrell said he was thrilled to win his hometown race.
"I didn't run my best time but I'm happy with how I did," he said. "I trained hard for it this summer and I've always wanted to win it because it's the hometown race. It's a good feeling. I'm happy I finally won."
Ontario's Karley Rempel broke the women's NT course record — the race took place on the NT side of the Delaware Street bridge at Sweeney Street — and finished first in the female division with a time of 24:14.
Race director Jeff Hardy, who attended Tonawanda High School, said both winners ran excellent races. He gave Farrell credit but also had a bit of fun with the former Jack.
"I didn't know he was from NT originally," Hardy said. "Being from Tonawanda I razzed him a bit afterward, and told him someone from NT couldn't have the trophy. But it was good to see. He ran a real good time. Even more surprising was the first woman who came across. She finished third overall and set a new course record."
Farrell led the pack for virtually the whole race and said his confidence grew with each stride. His parents were in attendance to watch him run to victory, and he said that he hopes to compete in the race for a long time to come, even if he has to leave the area.
"It's nice to have the race every year and it's always like a party at the end," said Farrell, who recently graduated from Alfred State College with a degree in architecture. "Everybody is always happy to be there regardless of how the weather is. I know last year and the past couple years it's been real warm, but still the usual people come out and run it. It's a lot of fun."
Hardy said there were a lot of runners in attendance and that most enjoyed the day despite the race's move to Sunday. He's hoping for an even better turn out next year as the race further entrenches itself as the kickoff event to Canal Fest week.
"Change is change and I had a lot of questions (about the day change), but at the party we got a lot of thumbs up," Hardy said. "Now we can build from here with Sunday being the day and us being able to kick off Canal Fest week."Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.