Local runners excel at Aurora Run for the Parks 10K
There was no need for a motorcycle cop escort for the runners Saturday morning at Aurora. Monett's Jerry Ragsdale led the 10K race from start to finish, his flame-red hair, a constant beacon to the line of runners trailing him, as he claimed the overall title in the Run for the Parks 10K.
A pair of ex-Southwest Trojans battled it out for second place, with Cristian Sellars sprinting past Jacob Jennings in the final strides for the runner-up spot.
It was an interesting and exciting race. I had a birdseye view of the lead action, running as the caboose of the lead train of runners for the entire distance.
Neither Sellars nor Jennings had ever competed at the 10K distance before, and I preached patience and race strategy to them during our ride together from Cassville.
We didn't have time to look at the entire course, so we carefully studied the maps in the Crosby Park shelter, and then breezed an easy mile to warm up. Runners poured into the start/finish area in a steady stream, and by race time there was quite an impressive throng gathered for the action.
I finally got our little gang lined up just in time for the official pre-race greeting and instructions.
At the start, a herd of runners of various ages and abilities poured south down Jefferson Street. The local law enforcement had Elliot Street blocked for us as we crossed and headed for the mile marker. At the intersection where the two courses diverged, only one runner of the top seven peeled off to follow the red paint marking the 5K course.
Meanwhile, Ragsdale was setting a hot lead pace, with Jennings trailing by a few seconds. Sellars shot into third place, but I was still stuck in fifth. I finally moved into fourth place and pulled alongside Sellars at the three-mile mark.
There is usually little change in the running order after the first two miles in these events, but Saturday proved to be an exception to that rule of thumb.
Ragsdale cruised to the finish line to take the overall title in 41:07. Sellars showed his All-State 800-meter speed in overtaking Jennings over the final three miles, winning that battle 41:17 to 41:18. I struggled on the cute little grassy hill that the race director sneaked into the layout at the five-mile mark, and couldn't hold off a determined last mile by Aurora's James Pettit.
Still, I finished fifth overall in 42:17 and won the Men's Masters Championship.
A sizeable crowd cheered each runner as they finished, some sprinting to the finish chute and others stumbling over the final stretch. The real race, as any veteran runner will tell you, is not against fellow competitors but against yourself and the clock.
When the final runners exited the course, it was time for the awards ceremony. Ragsdale, who graciously greeted each runner as they followed his footsteps across the finish line, accepted the tallest trophy. The Masters champions received bobble head trophies, and the top three in each age group received medals.
Local businesses donated items and gift certificates for door prizes as well.
Michael Hawkins, of Springfield, was the Overall Champion at the 5K distance, running 20:50. Stacy McKenzie, of Verona, was the Female 5K champ, finishing in 22:08. Crystal Powell, of Republic, won the women's 10K race, clocking 48:58.
It was a good morning of running for all involved. Kudos to the Aurora Parks Department for hosting a quality event, and congratulations to everyone who competed.
Area 10K finishers
* Ragsdale, Monett, Men's Overall Champion, 41:07.
* Sellars, Seligman, first in Men's 19-and-under, 41:17.
* Jennings, Washburn, second in Men's 19-and-under, 41:18.
* Stubblefield, Cassville, Men's Master's Champion, 42:17.
* Richard Hurt, Monett, second in Men's 30-39, 52:43.
Area 5K finishers
* Trenton Patton, Monett, first in Men's 20-29, 23:41.
* Audrey Patton, Monett, first in Women's 19-and-under, 24:33.
* Todd Purdy, Purdy, third in Men's 40-49, 26:36.
* Christie Hurt, Monett, seventh in Women's 30-39, 35:47.
* Katie Still, Monett, fourth in Women's 19-and-under, 37:31.
* Laura Still, Monett, fifth in Women's 40-49, 39:09.
* Luis Cenenas, Monett, third in Men's 20-29, 41:33.
* Deanna Breon, Monett, third in Women's 20-29, 41:33.
* Mary Ragsdale, Monett, seventh in Women's 40-49, 48:37.
* Gloria Pyper, Monett, second in Women's 60-69, 53:17.