SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (June 30, 2019) — 2017 champion and course record holder John Busque will headline the men’s division when the Firecracker4 returns to the Spa City on Thursday, July 4 at 9 a.m.

The Manchester, Conn. resident, who finished with a time of 19:13 two years ago, will face strong competition on the 4-mile USATF-certified course from his old training partner and college roommate Jonas Hampton. Hampton, who competes for Boston’s BAA High Performance Team and posted a new personal best time of 2:14:19 at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, also boasts a 1:03 half marathon on his resume.

Joining the two University of Hartford grads will be Kenyan Eliud Ngetich, who recently won the Litchfield Hills 7-mile road race (34:21) and has a four mile PR of 18:06 and Ruben Sanca, a Cape Verdean long-distance runner who competed for UMass Lowell and boasts a 5K PR of 13:56. Also expected to set the early pace are: Garrett Kenyon, a Creighton University cross country and track standout who has posted 31:23 for the 10K and has a sub-15 minute 5K; former Firecracker4 winner and 2018 runner up Ben Fazio; and, Jon Lindenauer, who has won titles at several local races this spring.

The competition on the women’s side will be no less fierce. Event organizers expect Lindsey Scherf, a former three-time NCAA Division I All-American at Harvard University who finished in 9th place (17:05) at the Freihofer’s Run for Women on Saturday, June 1, to have a fascinating duel with three-time Firecracker4 winner (2016, 2017, 2018) Kelsey Chmiel of Greenfield Center. Chmiel, who topped the 2018 women’s field in a time of 22:09 and will run cross-country and track at North Carolina State this fall, will be joined on the start line by Saratoga High teammate Ella Kurto (Ballston Spa), who also finished 10th at this year’s Freihofer’s Run for Women (17:15).

Other notable local runners set to toe the line include McKinley Wheeler and her twin sister Sheridan, who placed 12th (17:59) and 21st (18:49) at Freihofer’s. The youngsters, who are also both track and field teammates of Chmiel at Saratoga High, recently placed first and second in the Junior High School 2-mile run at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in Greensboro, N.C.

“It’s nice to see that so many top local and regional athletes want to take part in our race,” said Race Director Patrick Lynskey, adding that Karen Bertasso, a USA Track & Field US Marathon Trialist in 2020, will also compete. “It shows that the reach of this event is growing and the Firecracker4 will not just be the largest Independence Day run in New York state but hopefully the most competitive and most fun.”

To register for the Firecracker4 or Firecracker Sparkler Kids’ Run, a half-mile fun run down Broadway for more than 500 kids of all ages and abilities presented by the Saratoga Children’s Museum, please visit firecracker4.com. Additional information is also available by calling (518) 587-1571.

Event sponsors include Hannaford Supermarket; Michelob Ultra; CVS; Saratoga Eagle; Saratoga Springs City Center; Zappone Motors; D.A. Collins Companies; Towne, Ryan & Partners P.C.; Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs; Bouchey Financial Group; The Saratoga Hilton and the Barrel House

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Photo Captions

Firecracker 1: Lindsey Scherf (right), a former three-time NCAA Division I All-American at Harvard University who finished in 9th place (17:05) at the Freihofer’s Run for Women on Saturday, June 1, is expected to have a fascinating duel with three-time Firecracker4 winner (2016, 2017, 2018) Kelsey Chmiel (center) of Greenfield Center when the Firecracker4 returns to the Spa City on Thursday, July 4 at 9 a.m. To register for the Firecracker4 or Firecracker Sparkler Kids’ Run, a half-mile fun run down Broadway for more than 500 kids of all ages and abilities presented by the Saratoga Children’s Museum, please visit firecracker4.com. Additional information is also available by calling (518) 587-1571.

Firecracker 2: Saratoga High running standout Kelsey Chmiel of Greenfield Center will be going for her fourth straight title when the Firecracker4 returns to the Spa City on Thursday, July 4 at 9 a.m. To register for the Firecracker4 or Firecracker Sparkler Kids’ Run, a half-mile fun run down Broadway for more than 500 kids of all ages and abilities presented by the Saratoga Children’s Museum, please visit firecracker4.com. Additional information is also available by calling (518) 587-1571.