JACKIE MURZYNOWSKI and David O'Keeffe were Buffalo's best runners in 1990, winning the series of Buffalo News Runner of the Year races that began with the Shamrock Run in March and ended with the recent Turkey Trot.
Neither O'Keeffe nor Murzynowski ran each of the 12 races and, although they each won four races, they didn't win every time out. But each is to be reckoned with, and over a period of 10 months, no other runner tallied as many points.
They all but clinched their victories in September and, in fact, each had a rather lackluster Turkey Trot. Murzynowski finished fourth among the women and O'Keeffe, still recovering from a disappointing 2:22:27 at the Columbus Marathon, ended up fifth in a race in which he holds the two fastest times ever.
It was the second News title for O'Keeffe, a 31-year-old family practitioner from Orchard Park. He won the first year of the series in 1987, followed by Buffalo's Matt Hellerer in 1988 and Rochester's Charlie McMullen last year.
This was the first victory for Murzynowski, 23, of Lake View, an administrative assistant at Chase Lincoln Bank in her first year home from Murray State (Ky.) College. She was all-America in track and cross-country.
Murzynowski ends the three-year reign of Deb Froehlich, the only other winner of the News series, whose season was shortened by injuries.
O'Keeffe's fastest race was Bullfeather's (miles of 4:45), in which he covered the 5K in 14:46. He also won the Buffalo Philharmonic Club's Mighty Taco 10K in 30:58; the Buffalo Run for Your Life 20K in 1:03:12; and the Police Chase 5K in 14:47.
Murzynowski's best time was at the Police Chase, where she averaged miles of 5:34 to win in 17:17 and set a record for the downtown waterfront course. She also won the Vietnam Veterans Scholarship Run 5K (17:34); Checker's Nike ENSI 8K (28:26); and the Mighty Taco 10K (36:41).
In the separate, age-group competition, O'Keeffe also was the fastest runner in men's 30-34, and Murzynowski in women's 20-24.
At least two runners found that getting older did not hurt them.
Kate Hart, who turned 40 in midseason, managed enough points to tie Joanie Zirkelbach for first in 40-44. Hart's the winner because she beat Zirkelbach when they raced together. Hart also finished third in 35-39.
Helen Bueme held on to third in women's 55-59 even though she turned 60 in midseason and then finished first in the 60-and-over.
Trophies go to the top overall male and female, and wall plaques will be awarded to each age group winner.
Don Mitchell of Runtime Services, one of the country's top computer race scorers, reports the Turkey Trot had the biggest field in its 95-year history, breaking the 3,000 barrier for the first time.
There were 3,203 entered prior to race day on Thanksgiving, with 2,916 finishers. There's no way of knowing how many runners actually started.
Men outnumbered women by 2,372 to 826, but it's pretty amazing to think that more than 800 women entered. Try to imagine that 10 or 15 years ago.
The largest age group for men, Mitchell reports, was 35-39, with 438 entered. For women, it was 25-29, with 161 entered.
If you ran in last year's Last Race of the Year, you may have run in the last race. Emery Fisher, director of the no-frills year-ender, says the fall of Empire Savings Bank may have killed the run.
Fisher says Empire's failure may also kill the Big E Relays for high school runners across the state. Both events were in their 14th year and sponsored by the bank. It's not too late to save either. A running club could pick up the few hundred dollar tab for the last race. Key Bank and M & T bought up Empire's branches. It would be nice to have either step in and save the Big E Relays.
Unless you've been living on another planet, you've heard of the NordicTrack, the ubiquitous cross-country ski machine whose ads pop up everywhere. What hasn't been so easy is actually trying out one of them before you sign on the dotted line. Fred Faller, a Greater Buffalo Track Club member, is part of a team that will be showing the machines, along with a rower and exercise chair, at the Galleria Mall. They'll be in a kiosk on the first level near Laux Sporting Goods through Dec. 31.
There's still time to sign up for the Cystic Fibrosis climb up the 20 floors of the Liberty Building downtown. The race, which will send two runners at a time up the stairs, starts at 6:35 p.m. Thursday. Entries are $35 in pledges for Cystic Fibrosis. Call 8543-2011.
5K European Style Cross Country Race, Como Park, Lancaster, 11 a.m., today; Lancaster Striders 5K Holiday Classic, 11 a.m., Saturday, Polish Falcons, Depew, 683-5695.
Buffalo News Runner Of The Year This is the Runner of the Year Standings after The Turkey Trot, the final race in The Buffalo News Series.
OVERALL MENOVERALL WOMEN
Pos., Runner, Town Pts. Pos.,Runner,Town Pts.
1) Dave O'Keeffe, Orchard Park....72 1) Jackie Murzynowski, Lake View....64
2) Phil Krasinski, Orchard Park....55 2) Rebecca Buster, Buffalo....48
3) Dave Hawes, Batavia....40 3) Kate Hart, Buffalo....45
4) Doug Moreland, Buffalo....34 4) Melanie Benbenek, Buffalo....37
5) Bob Carroll, Forrestville....28 5) Marcia Found, Colden....35
6) Rick Mannen, Brantford, Ont.....25 6) Cindy White, Port Colborne, Ont.....26
7) John Kralisz, West Falls....23 7) Anne Forbes, Rochester....22
8) Richard Grimm, Buffalo....16 8) Laura Konantz, Toronto....20
8) Bob Williams, Buffalo....16 9) Jennifer Colgrove Martin, Erie....19
10) Bill Mangan, Niagara Falls....1510) Linda Niedermeier, Buffalo....16
AGE GROUPS, MEN
20-24 -- 1. John Kralisz (6) 2. John Trowse (4) 3. Dan Garrett, Perry Goodwin, Charlie Kern, Bill Mangan, Bennie McIntosh, Terry Milner, Alan Mullan, Phil Panus, Stephen Schadler, Scott Schumacher, Thomas Treadwell, Ken Tracy, Gary Westgate (3).
25-29 -- 1. Phillip Krasinski (23) 2. Dave Hawes (16) 3. Mike Bunsey, Bernie McDonnell, Bob Williams (5).
30-34 -- 1. Dave O'Keeffe (24) 2. Douglas Moreland (10) 3. Bob Carroll (8).
35-39 -- 1. Bill McMullen (17) 2. Tom Donnelly (13) 3. Chas. McMullen (8).
40-44 -- 1. Fran Emmerling (16) 2. Jim Hogan (14) 3. Daniel Tresohlavy (8).
45-49 -- 1. Jim Ferris (15) 2. Jim Lupton (10) 3. Ralph Zimmerman (9).
50-54 -- 1. Brian Delaney (26) 2. Bill Stefenhagen (13) 3. Glen Eberhardt (11).
55-59 -- 1. Gordon Walker (29) 2. Earl Hebdon (9). 3. Alan Blakey (8).
60-64 -- 1. Roger Whalley (23) 2. Richard Kendall (12) 3. Jack O'Sullivan (11).
65-69 -- 1. Edwin "Bud" Harris (24) 2. Charles Bauer (16) 3. John Curtin (6).
70 and over -- Henry Sypniewski (20) 2. Roger Clancy (13) 3. Whitey Sheridan (5).
AGE GROUPS, WOMEN
20-24 -- 1. Jackie Murzynowski (17) 2. Tracy Schneider, Heather Whalen (5).
25-29 -- 1. Rebecca Buster (19) 2. Melanie Benbenek (16) 3. Jennifer Colgrove Martin (5).
30-34 -- 1. Marcia Found (16) 2. Cindy White (9) 3. Ann Forbes (8).
35-39 -- 1. Brigette Soltiz (16) 2. Donna White Fallon (14) 3. Kate Hart (11).
40-44 -- 1. Kate Hart (13, tie breaker) 2. Joanie Zirkelbach (13) 3. Deborah Greitzer (11).
45-49 -- 1. Laurice Cushion (30) 2. Joanne Cunningham (12) 3. Verna Kieffer (11).
50-54 -- 1. Edith Radice (28) 2. Edith Malizia (15) 3. Jo Wright Whitten (6).
55-59 -- 1. Gloria Brown (23) 2. Edna Hyer (20) 3. Helen Bueme (7).
60 and over -- 1. Helen Bueme (24) 2. Loretta Shehan (15) 3. Esther Cox, Beryl Skelton (3).
Numbers in parentheses are total points based on three points for first, two for second and one for third.