The sky was overcast and a light drizzle seemed to bless the runners in the moments leading up to the start of last Saturday's Cherry Days 5k run. Just moments before racers took off from Apple Valley Park, the drizzle stopped, and the clouds held the heat at bay throughout the race.
Jason Sturgis was this year's overall winner, finishing just under two seconds ahead of Ryan Strand.
Strand "was keeping me going and pushed me until the end," said Sturgis. He was barely ahead of Strand as they rounded the final turn, "And then we started kicking and he was staying right with me. I kicked harder."
Sturgis, a high school distance runner, said he enjoys the course, which winds its way to Minnesota Creek and back. "The gradual uphill hurts a little bit, but it's good for you," he said after the race.
Natalie Anderson won the female division, her second win in three years, and placed fifth overall with a time of 19:58.59. Anderson, who runs track and cross country for Hotchkiss High School, won in 2010 and last year placed second.
"Tyrell Clock really helped me and pushed me and he was coaching me the whole way," said Anderson of her teammate.
Clock and triplet sisters Tiffany and Tia all competed in this year's race. They run throughout the summer to keep in shape — Tiffany and Tyrell for cross country and Tia for volleyball. Tiffany placed third in the women's division. The cloud cover was welcome, said Tiffany, but "I wish it wasn't this humid."
Only two racers ran in the under 10 division, with Carly Horn finishing in 26 minutes, 17.22 seconds to win the division and place 27th overall.
The 50-59 group was represented with 12 runners (second to the 10-19 group with 15), and four were male. Kevin O'Brien of Paonia finished fourth overall with a time of 19:30.15, and more than 5 minutes ahead of the next over-50 runner, Bruce Waitman.
Dave Knutson finished in a respectable 25:49.31 to win the men's 60-69 division, and Sandy Scheefer won the women's division, with Helen Groome finishing second.
This year's race drew 57 runners and walkers, most of them from Delta County and Grand Junction. Of those registered, 41 were female.
Pete Heck has organized the race the past two years after taking it over from the Grand Junction Mesa Monument Striders running club in 2010. The numbers were down by about 30 from last year, said Heck. Typically the race is held before the parade, when more people are in town. With July 4 falling on a Wednesday, it just didn't work out, he said, and that may explain the drop in numbers.
Heck was considering postponing the race due to scheduling conflicts, but when approached by members of the Paonia High School class of 2014 requesting that they be able to use the race as a class fundraiser, was more than willing to hand over the details. Heck kept his hand in the planning and worked the course. He said he'd like to see the race benefit future junior classes, and perhaps other causes or organizations, in the future.
About 14 volunteers, including more than a half dozen class members, helped with planning and on race day, said Sturgis, junior class co-president and several area businesses were sponsors. He estimates that the class made about $500, which will go toward next year's junior senior prom. "We're pretty happy with that," said Sturgis.
Phone App Eases People Into Running
Hardly a day goes by that Kevin O'Brien doesn't hit the pavement. He trots through town, then winds his way across Lamborn Mesa like a man on a mission.
O'Brien, who is approaching his mid-50s, ran track and cross country in high school, but didn't begin running until about six years ago. Then it was only as a way to keep in shape for another sport, backpacking. "The running kind of took on a life of its own," he said. "Several marathons later, here I am."
O'Brien placed fourth overall in Saturday's Cherry Days 5k run, and won the 50-59 age group. "It's a really fun race," said O'Brien. "For me, it's really short because I run marathons and half-marathons. This feels like a 100-yard dash."
O'Brien has run three out of four Cherry Days races, but was out of town for last year's race. "I'm just really happy to be back here and taking part."
O'Brien noticed this year's pace was quite fast (the winning time was 46 seconds faster than in 2011).
The course rises gently for most of the first half of the course, which begins and ends at Apple Valley Park and makes a loop to Minnesota Creek, "But then it's a real fast return into town. It's so fast. It's like the blink of an eye and it's over."
O'Brien, who is more accustomed to half-marathons, is currently training for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4. While training for big races, he tries to run every day.
O'Brien, who writes an on-line narrative for family and friends that recounts his race experiences, recommends that people who have never run or who haven't run in a while will do better if they start slowly. An iPhone app, the Couch to 5k program, is a great resource for those getting started, he said. The program provides all the instructions, which users listen to as they train so it's very easy. "The first couple of weeks you're just walking. You're not even running." As the program progresses, the walking decreases. At the end of the 10- to 12-week program, "You're up to a 45-minute run. It's a great way to start," he said. Some approach it with skepticism, but they quickly become believers. Many of today's marathon runners got started with the program. Because it is a positive approach to getting started, "...they have fallen in love with the activity."
"The main thing is to have fun, to just enjoy it," said O'Brien. "There are a lot of great people out there who are runners. The running community is incredibly supportive. It's just a wonderful sport."blog comments powered by Disqus