Two of the most blazing times in Delaware running history were posted in Saturday morning’s Delaware KIDS Fund 5K in Newport. Panuel Mkungo, 24, with a finishing time of 14:17 (4:36 minute mile) and Martin Hehir, 25, with a time of 14:35 (4:42 pace) came in 1stand 2ndrespectively, stunning participants and race officials who aren’t normally used to witnessing truly world-caliber talent on the local charity trotter circuit.
Races2run’s Wayne Kursh remarked, “The guy from Syracuse (Hehir) came down here thinking he was going to win $200, only to come in 2nd! The people who were there got to see two really gifted runners.” Hehir is a former All-American runner at Syracuse University.
Mkungo, a professional athlete who regularly competes in longer distance races, splits his training time between Maryland and his native Kenya. It was his coach Jason Rita who suggested that Mkungo participate in a few smaller races this summer to help him focus on competing and experience the flavor of races with an important community focus. “Panuel paid the entry fee today just like everybody else,” he said.
The running star also appreciates his coach’s philosophy about signing up for smaller events. “I’m very happy running a community race like this one. I don’t always like running for prizes. I like to feel like I’m a part of a community and helping to raise money for a unique cause.”
In case you’re wondering, Mkungo nails the big races, too. In his debut at the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler in November 2017, his first-place finish time was 00:47:02. He’s now training for a half marathon in Parkersburg, West Virginia, on August 18th. Kursh says Mkungo’s 5K time on Saturday puts him in the top 10 of all time in Delaware.
This was the largest turnout ever at the 9thannual Delaware KIDS Fund 5K. Not an easy feat with an August date and on a morning where the skies opened up just as runners took their mark.
Funds raised will supply Richey Elementary School in Newport with a new food pantry. Harvey Hanna vice president of marketing and Delaware KIDS Fund Executive Director Ryan Kennedy reminded supporters about the importance of their morning’s efforts.
“A half mile down the street from here is Richey Elementary School, and at that school 64% of the children are at or below the poverty line. So, we thought it would be great to raise funds for a food pantry that will be housed right inside the school. With your support today, and with the help of the Food Bank of Delaware, we’re going to build, stock, and fund it for four years!” Enrollment at Richey Elementary tops 400 students.
With a record number of sponsors (44) and a growing interest among the running community, this year’s fundraiser was the best yet for the Delaware KIDS Fund, which generated $19,500 for the food pantry. New this year was a personal challenge placed by Thom Harvey, chairman of Harvey Hanna & Associates, and Tom Hanna, the firm’s president. They matched every $15 youth registration (60 kids in all!), helping raise an additional $1,800 for the cause.
Construction on the food pantry will begin this month, and shelves will be stocked on thereafter. Kennedy remarked, “We are excited to dedicate race proceeds to Richey Elementary, and we hope to have an immediate impact because quite simply, these kids need it. The school is beautiful, the teachers work incredibly hard, and the atmosphere is positive. But many kids there are struggling, and we want them to be healthy learners.