Foot Notes: Old vs. New


Rolling through my 12th Father’s Day as a dad, I’m at the age when men often and unexplainably embark on deep dives into some mid-life hobby.

For many guys, that past-time involves some variation of smoking meats, building cars, and absorbing World War II lore like a sponge.

In my case, I love sports history, especially when I try to imagine how those legends of old would perform against the stars of today. 

How many majors would Jack Nicklaus win with Tiger Woods prowling in his era? Who would win in a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson? Imagine Babe Ruth batting against Shohei Ohtani, or vice versa!

It could be recency bias, but I almost always take the side of modern athletes. Let’s face it, they are bigger, stronger, and faster now than they’ve ever been.

Perhaps the most compelling “Old vs. New” argument comes from the world of track and field, where the seemingly impossible routinely becomes reality, and records continue to fall year after year. Even the superhuman efforts of Jesse Owens, the American hero of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, would be considered average by today’s standards. But is this an unfair comparison? 

The short answer is yes. Today’s athletes aren’t running on cinder tracks. They’re equipped with state-of-the-art running spikes, coupled with complex training blocks and rigid diet plans. They can review their technique on video, and adjust, just seconds after competing. 

So yes, I understand all of the technological advantages possessed by the modern athlete, but I still can’t help but marvel at how far today’s stars have come. I was only casually browsing the online results of a high school track meet last weekend, but even that was enough to send goosebumps crawling up my arms as I kept tabs on the Pa. Kids at New Balance Nationals in Philly.

The first athlete from that meet that comes to mind is Western Pa.’s Drew Griffith, who made national headlines in May when he ran a sub-4 time in the 1,600 at the PIAA Championships. Since then, he’s only cracked this mythical barrier for a second and third time, both times in the mile event. His time of 3:59.00 was a New Balance Nationals record, and had just enough pop to outlast another sub-4 miler in Utah’s Zachary Hillhouse.

How amazing would it be to see feisty young milers like these guys take their best crack at Steve Prefontaine?

Closer to home, a Central Pa. pole vaulter — Palmyra’s Mason Bucks — was crowned a New Balance champion after going off for a lifetime-best height of 16-8.75. I had to laugh as I began to count how many Olympic gold medals he’d have under his belt with these marks competing against the bamboo and steel pole vaulters of the pre-modern era.  Of course today’s athletics world is so competitive that Bucks barely leads the way over a rival in his own backyard: Lower Dauphin’s Drake Risser, who took seventh at nationals and defeated Bucks at the PIAA meet. 

I think the most bittersweet part about all of these comparisons of the past to the present is that there is no way to know for certain how these clashing sports eras would fare against one another. On one hand, it’s sad because we can only speculate on how bright the legends of old would shine under today’s lights, but on the other hand they are also immortalized as beacons to guide and inspire the ensuing generations of athletes who continue to redefine the word “greatness.”

Some may consider my hobby, based almost purely on sports hypotheticals, to be an unproductive one, but slowly but surely, I’m learning to not only savor the feats of today’s athletes, but also appreciate the achievements of those who came before them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to work on my secondary hobby: Building a time machine.


More than 500 runners gathered for one of the biggest races in Franklin County: The Race Against Poverty 5K.

Competing on a Friday evening under the lights in downtown Chambersburg, locals fiercely defended their home turf, with four runners from the Local.News area landing in the Top 10.

Fayetteville’s Karter Reath led the way for area runners with a fourth-place finish in 16:40. He was chased by Chambersburg’s Christopher Diaz (5th in 16:55), Fayetteville’s Julian Clark (7th in 17:10), and Greencastle’s Jarrett Gelsinger (9th in 17:43). Amanda Balzer, of Chambersburg, finished as second female in 20:33. Other top runners from the race include Chambersburg’s Boston Vincenti (18:09), Yoel Delessa (18:23), Michael Day (18:53), and Quinn Oyler (19:29), Greencastle’s Isaac Boyer (19:29), and Smithsburg’s Rob Hovermale (19:31).

Another Franklin County staple event — the Strokes, Spokes, and Strides Triathlon in Waynesboro — drew a crowd of 50 athletes. Fayetteville’s Jasper Estes finished sixth in 1:14:52, while Mady Barker, of Waynesboro, finished as the top female in 1:22:11. Other notable times were posted by Chambersburg’s Elizabeth Reichard (2nd female in 1:22:38), Waynesboro’s Andrew Bryan (1:22:55), Doug Pauselius (1:24:42), and Wynn Fertig (1:27:13), Hagerstown’s Alissa Burkey (1:28:37), and Smithsburg’s Eli Harsh (1:29:19). In the duathlon race, Smithsburg’s Han Gong registered a seventh-place finish in 2:00:29.

Trail runners were put to the test with the demanding racepaths of the Iron Run Half Marathon, and accompanying Charcoal Challenge 5K, held at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Greencastle’s Lindsay Bingaman had a big day in the half marathon, finishing as top female in 2:01:20 and highlighting a local group that includes Fayetteville’s Philip Samotus (1:53:52) and Chambersburg’s Richard Myers (2:20:46).

Alexis Espinosa was the top area finisher in the Charcoal Challenge 5K, with the Chambersburg runner nailing down a time of 30:21 to finish as third female. Espinosa was followed by Fayetteviell’s Christopher Parks (31:15), Chambersburg’s Dallon Espinosa (36:35), and Hagerstown’s David Biser (41:33).

Last weekend’s Summer Solstice 8K in Frederick, Md., drew nearly 400 runners, including a formidable group of locals. Hagerstown’s Jamie Wisz had a solid day at the office, crossing the finish line in 35:28 to take second in the 30-34 AG. Wisz led a group of area runners that includes Hagerstown’s Ella Blanco (37:38), Amy Blanco (38:33), and Micah Meredith (39:37), as well as Smithsburg’s Dwayne Miller (55:45).

A number of others were active in races across the region and beyond, including Greencastle’s Matthew Smith (20:29 at Forest County Bigfoot Festival 5K), Chambersburg’s Zach Johle (2:14:28 at Old Turnpike Half Marathon) and Sara Grove (7:35:23 at Ghost Town Trail Challenge 50K), Hagerstown’s Michael Stutts (36:42 at Ninja 5K), Joana Munoz (40:50 at Navy Federal Credit Union 5K), and Linda Bailey (1:04:40 at Pride 5K).

And finally, a shoutout to Hagerstown’s Erin Gedicke, who traveled to South Williamson, Ken., to take on the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon. Gedicke earned a finish in 5:14:09.

And now, a look ahead:

Firecracker 5K: Thursday, July 4, 7:30 a.m., in Waynesboro. Kyle Phillips has won his hometown race for the past two years. Can he do it again? Register for the race on

4th of July Shoe House Shuffle: Thursday, July 4, 8 a.m., in York. See the renowned Shoe House at the halfway point of this race, and enjoy a sweet treat from Kona Ice of York after you cross the finsih line. Find the event on

Paxtang Lions Patriot Dash 5K: Thursday, July 4, 8 a.m., in Harrisburg. Compete in this race and benefit the Paxtang Lions, whose mission is to assist the sight impaired. Look up the race on

Also: Sharpsville Half Marathon (Friday, in Sharpsville); 5K for PTSD Awareness (Saturday, in Harrisburg); Hometown Heroes Trail 5K (Saturday, Elizabethville); Luau 1M/5K/10K (Saturday, in Manheim); Rachel Carson Trail Challenge 34M (Saturday, in Pittsburgh); Run Your Race 5K (Saturday, in Hershey); Sproul 10K (Saturday, in Hyner); Wheels & Wings Festival 5K (Saturday, in Lititz); Evergreen Lake Super Sprint Triathlon (Sunday, in Bath); Running Loopy for Lupus 5K (Sunday, in Richfield); Eager Seeger Half Marathon (Sunday, in Boalsburg); Squirrel 5K/10K/Half (Saturday, June 29, in Harrisburg); Dairy Air Half Marathon (Sunday, June 30, in Doylestown); Hell Hath No Hurry 10K/30K/50K/50M (Sunday, June 30, in Pittsburgh); Ironman 70.3 Pennsylvania (Sunday, June 30, in State College); Run for the Ages 10K (Sunday, in Reading); 4th of July Shoe House Shuffle (Thursday, July 4, in York); Revolutionary Run 5K/10K (Thursday, July 4, in Washington Crossing).

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