The 50-over team, made up of lead off man and captain Gerry O’Hara, Chris Potter, Mikal Scott and John Affleck, had a total blast while surprising themselves and the competition by taking fourth place out of 16 finishing teams in the race.
The runners, who all have reached the point of being thankful just to get the chance to compete, found their way to the meeting point at Franklin Field about 90 minutes before the race. Affleck, originally the alternate, had gotten the call to join the team just a few hours before. Fortunately, he was already in Philadelphia with the Penn State track team and had his CPTC gear on hand. He had been told by CPTC founder and resident mensch Frank Handelman to run no more than 2 miles in the morning because you never know and so was ready when Captain O’Hara needed to make the call.
After a very short warm up, the team was introduced to the hurry-up-and-wait system of paddocks at the nation’s oldest major track meet. That eventually led them onto the track at Franklin Field where a crowd of perhaps 4,000 spectators had stuck around for the early evening race. Conditions were perfect as a light breeze had kicked up after a warm day. O’Hara deserves a ton of credit for getting the team off to a quick start and challenging for the lead in a nationally elite field. Veteran standout Potter powered through the second leg and Scott, racing in the biggest meet of his life, overcame any big race jitters and blasted around lap 3, then handed off to Affleck, who hung onto fourth position and steamed home.
For all the CPTCers, it was a thrilling and exhilarating experience.