This article was written by Timothy Weisberg of Gannett Newspapers in Ithaca, NY. Sorry for the delay. I am in Wisconsin with virtually limited Internet access.
ITHACA -- Sometimes a role reversal is what it takes to come away victorious, a gamble when it appears you might just be bluffing.
But for Charlie Kern, 41, of Elhurst, Ill., it was a change in technique and a gamble that ultimately paid off for him in winning the elite masters men's 40s race in 4 minutes, 21 seconds Saturday at the 44th annual Hartshorne Masters Mile at Cornell University's Barton Hall.
Kern beat out Nicholas Berra, 41, of Enola, Pa. on the final lap, as he was able to get ahead on the final stretch and pull away. Berra finished second with a time of 4:23.0, followed by Lance Elliott, 40, of Edina, Minn. with a time of 4:31.
Kern said his approach was unorthodox.
"I have been in a number of races where I have led from the start and I didn't want to do that (Saturday)," he said. "I wanted to be in an attack position as opposed to a hunted position."
It was Kern's first time running in the annual Masters Mile, and first time running in Barton Hall since 1987, his senior year in high school when he ran in the New York state championships.
Berra led for the majority of the race before Kern out-kicked him on the final lap and stretched ahead for good.
For race director Tom Hartshorne, the elite men's 40s race was a race for the ages, but might have resulted in a different outcome had Kern stuck to his traditional method of leading the pack.
"I think it might have been a different race if Berra had sat on (Kern's) shoulder and hung with him," Hartshorne said. "But it was a great race."
According to Hartshorne, Kern typically likes to control the race and is a traditional mile-runner, while Berra, an 800-yard competitor, is usually the one trailing looking for an opportunity to break from the leader's shoulder.
"The race in my mind was Charlie trying to break him with three laps to go and Nick trying to hang on so he could out-kick him," Hartshorne said. "But ...Nick Berra led the race."