10K WINNER GIRMATOLLA HEADS TO THE FINISH TWO
SECONDS AHEAD OF WORKU BEYI.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO
Brian’s Run Still Strong After 30 Years

BY DAVID BLOCK

WEST CHESTER, PA--A lot of road races begin strong and after a few years fade and fold, but Brian’s Run is another story. For thirty years Brian’s Run has been the premiere 10K race in West Chester, PA. Based on the enthusiasm that the runners and volunteers displayed this past December 2nd at its 30th running, this race might still a permanent West Chester fixture 30 years from now. One reason for Brian’s Run’s strong stamina is that the key emphasis is not about winning and losing, but about neighbors helping neighbors. Brian’s Run began as a result of a tragic accident.

In August 1978, West Chester Henderson High School football player Brian Bratcher became paralyzed during a football scrimmage. To defray the high medical cost, the people of West Chester put on a one-time 10K race that December, hoping to raise five hundred dollars, but to their shock, they raised twenty thousand.

Brian Bratcher was so overwhelmed with the huge outpouring of support, that he requested that Brian’s Run take place every year to help other people in need.

A lot of people have developed fond memories of Brian’s Run, including West Chester’s current mayor, Richard “Dick” Yoder, who vividly recalled the first year that the race took place.

 

GIRMA TOLLA IS NUMBER ONE!
CLAY SHAW PHOTO
“I was put on the race committee the first year,” said Mayor Yoder, “because at the time I was the football coach and Athletic Director of West Chester (University). I had keys to the stadium, so they needed me on the committee so that I could open it up.”

The finish line has always been in Farrell Stadium at West Chester University.

One of Brian’s Run’s most dedicated entrants has been Bill Stahl who now flies in from Colorado almost every year to run the race. He first ran Brian’s Run in 1979 while attending the University of Pennsylvania. “I liked how Brian wanted to have this race to help other people,” said Stahl.

In addition to running Brian’s Run almost every year, Stahl has also raised money to help the race continue. Some Brian’s Run Race Directors have affectionately referred to him as the race’s Western Representative.

One of Stahl’s most memorable Brian’s Runs was when he ran the course alone in December 2003. When he flew from Colorado to Philadelphia, a severe blizzard had crippled the Delaware Valley.

“When I got to the race,” said Stahl, “I saw in the parking lot a sign that the race was postponed. I said, ‘I’m here, I might as well run.’ I ran the course and got lost a couple of times because I never saw the course with a lot of snow before. I ran the course in about 48 minutes, but considering I was running through snow drifts by myself and made wrong turns, I was pleased with my time.”

 

WORKU BEYI, SECOND PLACE FINISHER IN
A TIGHT RACE.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO
At the 30th Brian’s Run, Stahl dropped his finishing time down to 42:19 in cold, snowy, and rainy weather.

“The cold didn’t bother me because I’m used to it. I live in Colorado. I wasn’t used to the wetness. This year the course was slippery. I finished with ice on me.”

Brian Bratcher, almost every year, has greeted the runners after they cross the finish line.

“I enjoy doing that,” said Bratcher. “It’s great how the kids who used to run Brian’s Run, now bring their kids to run it.”

This past Brian’s Run, Bratcher, as usual, sat at the finish line. The inclement weather did not bother him, but it bothered the winners.

“Nasty wind!” yelled the first woman finisher, Aziza Aliyu, in broken English. “…Don’t like it!”

The Ethiopian native won for a second straight year. This year she went unchallenged as she clocked 34:17. The second woman to finish was Caroline Chepkorc who posted 35:11.

“I was confident I’d win after the second mile,” said Aliyu as she ran to the gymnasium to dry off. Last year she was challenged. She posted 34:00 and on her heels was runner-up Teraza Yohannes who crossed the finish line in 34:05. Even though Aliyu had an easier time winning this year, the race was less enjoyable because of the weather.

 

JEFF EGGLESTON FINISHES FOURTH
OVERALL IN THE 10K WITH
A 29:58.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO
Chepkorc found Brian’s Run quite memorable because it was the first time that the Kenyan native saw snow. She had heard of snow, but never before experienced it.

This year the men’s field was far more competitive than the women’s division. It came down to the wire as Girma Tolla won with a 29:51 finish. Runner-up Worku Beyi trailed by two seconds, 29:53. Finishing third was Dagne Alemu, 29:56 and fourth was Jeff Eggleston, 29:57.

Tolla was confident that he would out-kick the pack in the final stretch after he ran up the last hill. “I felt good at the end,” Tolla said in broken English.

To learn more about Brian’s run: www.briansrun.org.