The battle for the women’s overall championship in The Buffalo News’ Runner of the Year series couldn’t have been much closer.
Entering the YMCA Turkey Trot, Courtney Laderer of North Tonawanda was in the lead with 67 points. The only person who could catch her was Jennifer Boerner of Buffalo, who had 61 points. That meant Boerner had to gain seven points in the last race of the series to take the top prize.
“I knew I was pretty close to Courtney,” Boerner said. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to do this one.’ There were a few races in the series that I didn’t do.”
Boerner did her part by picking up nine points for a second-place finish. Her time was 30 minutes, 12 seconds. Meanwhile, Laderer came in ninth in a time of 32:42 to finish ninth and earn two points.
That gave Boerner a 70-69 victory and the championship. Even better, it gave Jennifer bragging rights over her friend Courtney.
“She was pretty determined to win,” Boerner said. “The end was pretty fascinating.”
John Beyer of Buffalo was the men’s winner of the series.
It was an impressive year for Boerner. The 33-year-old had a remarkable season when it came to finishing first in races in a variety of distances. She won the 5-kilometer Shoes for the Shelter race, the 8-kilometer Shamrock Run, the 10-kilometer Depew and Lancaster Boys and Girls Club race, and the Strider Glider Quarter Marathon.
“I’m beginning to like the longer ones better,” Boerner said. “The 5Ks make me nervous. It’s so fast.”
Toward that end, she’ll be back at a familiar distance this spring: the marathon.
“I’ll do Boston in April,” the veteran runner said. “I’ve run six marathons. Boston will be the seventh. My first trip there was in 2009, when I ran a 3:10. Hopefully I’ll do better this time.”
Boerner’s running career started in an unusual way more than a couple of decades ago. It was a case of following orders.
“My dad put me in a running club way back when,” she said. “I was about 10, and it took off from there. Yeah, it’s always been an outlet for me. I really like the team aspect of the sport.”
Boerner ran for Sweet Home High School, qualifying for the states in cross country three times, and later was picked for the school’s Hall of Fame. Then it was on to college.
“I ran at Clarion State,” in Pennsylvania, “and I loved it,” she said. “It was fun. We went to nationals for cross country. Clarion has some nice trail runs. I placed second in the Penn State competition in the 1,500 meters.”
After college, Boerner worked at a child-care program for seven years, but that facility closed down. She moved over to the Carousel Academy in Amherst, where she works as a preschool teacher. Chasing the little tykes around the schoolroom helps keep her in shape.
“The kids are fun. They make me laugh,” Boerner said. “I don’t think I’d be good in an office.”
As for running, Boerner has taken some breaks from the sport over the last decade. Now she’s giving it plenty of attention.
“I really came back to it for the past two years,” Boerner said. “I started running with Checkers” Athletic Club, “and they’ve been great. I’ve become more competitive.”
Certificates are awarded to the top 10 finishers of the men’s and women’s overall finishers in the Runner of the Year series, and to the top three of each age group. Check the standings at buffalorunners.com, and if you qualify send your mailing address to email@example.com.