Strong turnout ensures Sesame Classic’s bright outlook

Morrisville’s Nicole Ratamess (left) and Jessica Ratamess head for the finish line in the Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic on May 15. (Photo by Fraser Marlow)
       By now it’s safe to say everyone’s pretty much maxed out reading about how certain races have made successful comebacks from the health-challenged past two years.
      But if you would please indulge us, we would like to take a moment or two to tip our hat a final time for the effort it required to put on the 22nd Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic, held on Sunday, May 15.
      They say it takes a village to raise a child, so when you have several hundred youngsters competing in either the 5K, one-mile or Sesame Sprint, it probably takes something more like a city.
      The Levittown-Bristol Kiwanis Club, in concert with the Bucks County Herald, went the extra mile to ensure a total of more than 1,000 runners arrived at the finish lines with smiles on their faces.
      So kudos to club president Joe DeFranco, along with long-time race officials Dixie Rhodes, Mary Berman, Donna Milner, Jill Saul and Tom Delia for their extraordinary work in putting on a complex, time-demanding event.
      And let’s also recognize the fine contributions made by Jill Gilardi, who handles registration along with shirts/medals procurement; plus Ernie Nocito, who does a great job with marketing, promotion and contracts.
      Of course, the work doesn’t stop there.
      When the races are over, attention quickly turns to the Kiwanis-Herald Scholar-Athlete Banquet, held this year on Wednesday, May 18 at the Spring Mill Manor in Ivyland.
      Proceeds from the Classic go to the Dick Dougherty Honorarium Award, providing financial assistance to 34 of the area’s top college-bound scholar-athletes from 18 high schools. Since 1999, the KHSPC has raised approximately $500,000 for the fund.
      The banquet is always a red-letter date for the best and the brightest from Bucks County. Guest speaker Brian Propp, one of the top players in Philadelphia Flyers history, was once again on hand to recognize the accomplishments of these exceptional young adults.
      Bucks County Herald owner and publisher Joe Wingert was instrumental in both promoting/sponsoring the event and in the production of the banquet’s keepsake yearbook.
      Berman coordinated operations at the gala affair which left more than 100 attendees in good spirits throughout the evening.
      It’s safe to say the Sesame Place Classic has made a successful return to the local racing calendar and the future of this competition certainly looks bright.
      >Tom is on Cruise control
      Apparently the folks over at ESPN have a lot of time on their hands.
      While perusing the “world wide leader’’ in sport’s website, we came across an informative, if slightly humorous, article analyzing actor Tom Cruise’s running form and efficiency.
      After all, just about anyone who’s seen one of his movies over the past 30-plus years has watched him either running after or away from the bad guys.
      Whether it’s the umpteenth “Mission Impossible’’ flick, “Days of Thunder’’ or “The Firm’’, Cruise gives the impression he’s a natural runner who grew up on a high school track.
      However, that was not the case. Cruise, who was known by his legal name, Thomas Mapother, while attending Glen Ridge (N.J.) High School in the late ‘70s, was actually a 122-pound wrestler. About the only running he did was in training for competition on the mat.
      When his film career began to take off with flicks like “The Outsiders’’, Cruise was all arms and legs in scenes involving running.
      But he’s gotten much better over the years, with a more economical style. In fact, when he joined Instagram in 2018, here’s what he put in his bio: “Actor, producer, running in movies since 1981.’’
      ESPN convened a panel of experts to critique Cruise’s style and the comments were mostly positive.
      The ESPN article notes Cruise, who is known for doing nearly all of his stunts, began to improve as early as 1983’s “Risky Business’’ when he vaulted up the high school’s steps two at a time (what, not the underwear solo dance scene to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock n Roll”?)
      Four-time NCAA champion track coach Caryl Smith Gilbert of the University of Georgia was on the panel. She watched a bunch of Cruise’s films and said the breakthrough might have come during “Collateral” (2004).
      “His technique got better,’’ she said. “I was like, ‘Hmmm, he has to be getting some real coaching.’ ’’
      Some style changes are prominent. In his more recent running scenes, Cruise keeps his hands open, a la sprinters. And his shoulders look more relaxed.
      Here’s a fun fact: Marathon runner Will Blasé, who writes for the running blog The Harrier, compared Cruise’s running performances in Mission Impossible movies to those of Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump,’’ Harrison Ford in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,’’ and Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky II.’’
      The clear winner: Cruise, who’s still cranking it out in the about-to-be released “Top Gun: Maverick.’’
      Finally, the verdict we respect the most comes from multi-Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee who said: “I’ve been to the Olympics. And he pulled me in. Tom Cruise is a good runner.’’
      On a more regular basis we enjoy actors who get it moving quickly on foot during television shows like “FBI,’’ “Chicago PD’’ and “Bosch.’’
      Don’t you love it when a perp tries to make a run for it and finally gets hauled down by the folks in blue?
      Entertaining, perhaps, but not quite up to the eye-opening daredevil stuff put forth by one Thomas Mapother.
      >Race calendar
      Doylestown 5K, 9 a.m., Bucks 5K Series, Doylestown. Contact
       Memorial Main Street Mile, 8:10 a.m., Yardley. Contact
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About Wayne Fish 2444 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.