110 runners compete in Tomato Trot 5K Saturday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
High school stars Leslie Pence and Casey Buddenbaum dominated a field of 110 runners on Saturday morning at the 2nd Annual Tomato Trot 5K.
West Rowan High School junior Pence won the women’s crown by a narrow margin over Tracey Kinyo of Linwood with a time of 20 minutes and 44 seconds.
Kinyo finished just 5 seconds behind in 20:49.
Pence said she and Kinyo raced side-by-side at times until the last hill, when she was able to pull away slightly. Kinyo closed at the finish, but credited Pence with a fine effort.
Pence said she knew the course was not an easy one, but the last hill proved to be the deciding factor.
Loren Belk of Salisbury finished third with a time of 21:18.
Casey Buddenbaum of Harrisburg won the male race with a time of 17:51. Buddenbaum is a junior at Hickory Ridge High School in Harrisburg.
Bobby Aswell of Huntersville was second in 18:28, while Frank Yanko of Concord followed closely with a time of 18:48.
Aswell at age 46 and Yanko at age 53 had exceptional efforts against the talented high schooler Buddenbaum. Having spotted Aswell and Yanko at the midway turnaround, Buddenbaum decided that he needed to push the pace to open up a larger lead, and he gradually built the final margin. All three runners said the course was not the easiest one, but it was still fun to challenge each other on the rolling hills.
There was a non-competitive and untimed fun run for smaller kids following the 5K. The fun run looped the church cemetery.
Race director Mallory Hodge was ecstatic about the race turnout. She had set a goal of at least 100 runners, hoping to double the turnout from 2008. She is already thinking of doing the same for 2010.
Hodge likes the 5K course that travels by tomato and sunflower fields, and is glad to get to show off the area to runners who aren’t familiar with rural farmland. Each runner received a dri-fit shirt and a goody bag, which included a tomato. All runners were treated to a tomato sandwich or their choice of barbecue, hotdog or hamburger. Hodge had spent the week fielding calls and e-mails from across the state asking for directions to Unity Presbyterian Church and the Tomato Festival. Buddenbaum and other runners enjoyed the festival afterwards. Brennaman Thompson came from Charlotte because the race was part of the Tomato Festival. Thompson races every weekend, and prefers the relaxed, small town events.
Aswell brought both his daughters, who ran the fun run and then explored the festival afterwards. He looks forward to returning next year after watching the race grow this year.
Complete results can be found at www.salisburyrowanrunners.com.