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International Pancake Day Racer Bios

Maria Alba:

                Keeping herself extremely busy, Maria Alba is a stay-at-home mom of Cesar, Dulce Maria, Esperanza, and Raquel, while also attending Seward County Community College full time. Husband Cesar Alba works in construction. When asked why she entered this year’s race, she answered, “I like to support my town events. I love being part of Pancake Day!” She raced in 2019, 2020, and 2022. Maria has changed her running strategy this year so look out! She would like to tell first time racers, “Have fun. The first year is nerve-racking. Anyone can participate so do not be intimidated and just go out and do it!”


Tessy Barnett:

                Tessy Barnett would easily win the most dedicated Pancake Day racer award (if there was one). She has raced 21 times! 1999-2008, 2012-2020, and 2022-2023. She races for the fun of it and prepares all year for this race. She doesn’t get to exercise as much as she would like but takes advantage of it if the opportunity arises. Tessy works with her husband Cory who is the Broker/Owner of Real Estate. They have three grown children, Tabitha, Corban, and Obadiah. Tessy is glad so many first-time racers are coming out to run. Her advice to women who want to run, but haven’t signed up—“Just Do It!—most of us are not in it to win it—we are in it to finish it! Plus it gives us bragging rights that we ran this [Pancake Day] race!”

Pamela Bolivar:

                Pamela is one of the youngest racers this year at 19 years old. She has lived in Liberal her whole life and currently attends Seward County Community College while also working at Southwest Medical Center as a Certified Nurse Aide. Pamela remembers running in the races when she was little. It has always been fun. She ran cross country and track in high school, so her family wasn’t surprised when she said she was running.


Dora Canil:

                Dora Canil keeps herself very busy as a housewife caring for four children, Jefferson, Caleb, Sarai, and Aaron with her partner Richard who works in construction. She likes to run, already running everyday for 30 minutes, but she is also preparing herself mentally for her first time running in the International Pancake Day race.


Clarissa Carrillo Martinez:

                Clarissa Carrillo Martinez is a part time ESL instructor at Seward County Community College Epworth Adult Learning Center, working full time for KU Medical Center. She has lived in Liberal for around 20 years, but she has yet to race for Pancake Day. She wants to run for self-improvement and also to be part of the community. She has kept her entry into the race a secret from her friends and family so it will be a surprise! As for preparation she says, “I try to run a mile four times a week, but I am a bit afraid of not being ready physically and mentally.”


Brenda Franco:

                Brenda Franco, age 37, has come back to her hometown and has now been living in Liberal for six months. She works for Seward County as a Clinic County Clerk. Being back in her hometown of Liberal made her want to participate in its most famous event, the International Pancake Day Race against Olney, England. She has gotten some exuberant responses from friends and family about running: “Oooooh, how fun!” and “OMG yessss, the Pancake Day Race!”


Andrea Irby:

                Andrea Irby works as a barista at The Cozy Corner when she is not caring for her 18-mo old, Olivia. Andrea is a first-time racer who decided to run, ‘just for fun’, after living in Liberal for 10 years. She is taking the race seriously enough to train every day while still keeping a positive and lighthearted attitude about the race.


Minerba Lopez:

                Minerba Lopez ran the race in 2020 so she knows what to expect. Her advice to first-time-racers is to tell them, “It’s so hard, but keep going! It will be over soon!” On the home front, Minerba is an Account Representative for Kinsinger State Farm Insurance while her husband, Jesus, is a welder and shop supervisor for Gardner Cryogenics. They have two children, Emilia and Easton who will also be competing in the kid’s races on Pancake Day. Why did she sign up to race this year? “Because my coworker told me to!”


Mercedes Martinez:

                Mercedes Martinez, age 20, has lived in Liberal all of her life. She and her partner, Victor, have a little 3 year old boy, Jayden, who will also be racing on Pancake Day. Mercedes decided to race this year to challenge herself. She has not told any friends or family that she is racing, so they will be quite surprised. She has been preparing mentally and physically for the big day by going out and running to train herself.


Kasey Morales:

                Kasey Morales with Sonny Rivera care for their four-year-old, Jordan. Having lived in Liberal all 22 years of her life, she is jumping into her running shoes and taking on the International Pancake Day Race for the first time to challenge herself. She has not told her family and friends that she is running, so this is going to be a surprise! Kasey is preparing herself by going to the gym and practicing at the track field. Her nephew, Jaayden is also joining the Pancake Day fun.


Fernanda Ortiz:

                Fernanda Ortiz is an Export Lead at National Beef and has lived in Liberal for almost ten years. She is running in the International Pancake Day Race to challenge herself. Some of her family and friends seemed surprised when she told them she was going to run in the Pancake Day race. To prepare, she has been running 2-3 times per week. She has one family member who is joining her in the festivities of Pancake Day and that is her niece, Violeta.


Isabelle Sullenger:

                Our 2023 champion is back to defend her crown. Isabelle Sullenger works as a teacher at Seymour Rogers Middle School along with her husband Aaron Sullenger, last year’s Men’s Pacer Race 3rd place winner. When asked about running this year she said, “I was blessed to be able to win the Liberal leg of the race last year, but not the International Race. I am a competitive person, so would like to give it another go!” She is preparing by running 2-3 miles a few times a week and also taking her dogs Mollie and Oakley for runs and walks. Aaron is also running again in the Men’s Pacer Race. Isabelle ran in 2022 placing 2nd, and in 2023 winning the crown for Liberal. 2024 sounds like a good year to win the title of International Pancake Day Champion.


Madison Winters:

                Madison Winters works as a Manager/Barista at The Cozy Corner. She may have a leg up on the competition for the race, though, as she is also the Assistant Cross Country Coach. Her husband Jacob Winters is a Lieutenant Firefighter with the Seward County Fire Department. After having lived in Liberal for over 24 years, she says, “I’ve always wanted to [race] and decided this year, it was time!” Her friends and family are excited and are very encouraging.



            What a treat this year to have a proud Olney runner here in person to run with us! Penny (Callow) Grego ran and placed 3rd in the Olney Pancake Race back in 1974. Penny, a retired teaching assistant for the Plano Independent School District, now lives in Plano, Texas with her husband William who is a retired engineer and school bus driver.

            They have three grown children, John, Jennifer, and Elizabeth. Penny has lived in Plano, Texas since 1985 and finally became a US Citizen six years ago. When the children still lived at home the family was lucky enough to go back to Olney for visits every two years. Now it is not nearly so often, but Penny is going back in March for her sister’s 70th birthday.

            “I’ve considered going to Liberal to see the race for many years but couldn’t really get away when the children were young, and then I was working and couldn’t take time off.   Now that I’ve retired, I’m free to travel. We think I may be one of the first (or first) person to compete in the race at both locations,” Penny said excitedly. “Everyone I have spoken to is excited for me. My two daughters, grandson, and husband are all coming to Liberal to cheer me on.”

            One piece of advice Penny gives to first-time-racers is to ‘respect your elders—no jostling as you pass them’, she says with a grin! At age 66 Penny knows she won’t come in first but she is so proud to be able to have bragging rights after having run both full length courses in each country. She has been jogging three times a week to prepare and her goal is to finish our course in less than 5 minutes. She says her mistake in 1974 is that she ran the course for the first time the night before the race. She was so sore the next day she could barely walk. “Had I not done that, I really think I would have won the race!”

            Penny doesn’t have any family members participating on this side of the pond but she sure does have connections in England! Her oldest sister, Susan Bailey is the verger at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, the Anglican church in Olney and will be officiating at the Pancake Day Race there. Her connections go even farther though! Her aunt, Florence (Callow) Mynard, ran the race and came in first place in Olney in 1950, thereby beating out our own Billie Warden and winning the first ever International Pancake Day Race between Liberal and Olney!

Maria Alba
Tessy Barnett
Pamela Bolivar
Dora Canil
Clarissa Carrillo Martinez
Brenda Franco
Andrea Irby
Minerba Lopez
Mercedez Martinez
Kasey Morales
Fernanda Ortiz
Isabelle Sullinger
Madison Winters
Penny Callow Grego
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