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Races & Walks
April 12, 2024
Wyoming Valley Striders Honors Local Running Legends

Two Wyoming Valley Striders Races Renamed in Memory of Standout Runners

The Wyoming Valley Striders have the privilege of honoring two individuals who made an impact on the local running community. Tim Thomas and Jen Stec died ten years apart, both in their thirties and both due to unforeseen health reasons. Their deaths were tragic and stunned their loved ones and the local running community but their legacy lives on through the races that bear their name.

Tim Thomas Memorial Race

Tim Thomas was a local standout runner and ran for Bloomsburg University. Taking second place at our Winter’s End 4.5 Mile Run in 2000, he captured top honors at many of our annual races. 2001 would start his three consecutive year Winter’s End winning streak. At our Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Run that same year, Tim captured his third straight local race after winning our Winter’s End in March and the JCC’s River Street Run in April. Enroute to the Cherry Blossom finish, Tim’s running persistence paid off when he realized Dan Dragwa was closing in on him. “So I hammered that last mile,” Tim said. “And I was able to hold him off for the win.” 2003 would be a repeat year when Tim captured three straight local race wins for those same races two years prior. Two months later, on July 5th, at the age of 31, Tim unexpectedly passed away of a congenital heart valve problem.

Jen Stec Memorial Race

Jen Stec was a friend to all runners. Her love for running was surpassed only by her love for the trails. So much so that in 2014, at the Union Township boat launch on the Susquehanna Warrior Trail, after installing with club participation, we dedicated a bench in her memory.

Jen was an exceptional runner who, like Tim, competed on the local scene and in Wyoming Valley Striders races. Jen was a five consecutive top female of our Spring Trail 5.3 Mile Run starting in 1995. Her sixth win of the race came in 2002. She also won the fall version of this race in 2003 and 2012. On October 21, 2013, at the age of 38, Jen died following a heart attack that she suffered that afternoon.

Tony Korch, Jen’s best friend and training partner said after winning the 2014 Spring Trail Run, “I just run from inside – from what (Jen) gave me. I think it’s great that Jen and I have won these trail runs so many times.” Ten years later, Tony now has eight spring wins.

Striders Races Honor Tim and Jen

The following years after Tim and Jen passed away, the Wyoming Valley Striders renamed two of our May races.

This year on May 5 in Kirby Park we will again be hosting our 49th Annual Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Run / 20th Annual Tim Thomas Memorial. Two weeks later, on May 19 at Frances Slocum State Park, our 32nd Annual Spring Trail 5.3 Mile Run / 10th Annual Jen Stec Memorial will be held. Both of these events are more than just races; they’re living tributes to the runners who inspired us, challenged us, and showed us what it means to truly love the sport.

Road runners and trail runners can pre-register for these memorial races through our events page on our website.