Saturday, April 16, 2011 -- Danese, WV / Babcock State Park (5K Fun Walk too!)
The Gristmill Grinder Half Marathon Trail Run
Tough Weather, Even Tougher Runners
Article and photos by Don Parks.
For the most part the rains held off and the sun did its best to sneak out now and then. With most of the running in the woods the wind was not a factor and the cool weather ideal.
It was a spectacular mix of participants that lined up for the 10 am start. There was a 65-year age difference between the youngest (10 year-old William Rader) and the oldest (75 year-old Vic Ware) competitor. In between there were runners of all shapes and sizes ready to spend a few hours in the beautiful park.
Once everyone's journey began it soon became apparent the fastest
finisher would emerge from a lead group of four. Zachery Beckett,
Michael Bee, Robert Smith, and Clay Warnere spent
the first half of the race with little separation. However, the final
long and gradual downhill on the Narrow Gauge Trail saw Warnere make a
move. He was able to speed down the rugged trail and put some distance
on the others. But there was still a lot of racing to do.
As the leaders headed up Smith and Bee started reeling Warnere back in while Beckett fought to keep up. As they passed the final aid station at the mill Smith and Bee passed Beckett. It was now going to be a two man race as they headed up the Lake View Trail and the long lap around Boley Lake.
Neither man was able to pull away from the other and they were still together as they exited the woods. With just the final climb on the paved road to the finish it was here that Smith's training at shorter distances would make the difference. He would take the win at 1:30:34 with Bee close behind for second at 1:30:42.
Meanwhile Warnere needed everything he had left to hold on to third
place at 1:31:30. Beckett had him in his sights but came up just short
Thomas does a lot of hill training and it paid off with all the climbing late in the race. She took the lead at the bottom of Old Sewell Road and never looked back.
Thomas took the women's title at 1:52:56 while Fields held on for second at 1:56:17. Kate Caldwell wasn't too far back for third at 1:57:17.
Donnie Hudspeth once again put on a wonderful event and he couldn't do it without great sponsors like Montrail, Pies & Pints, Songer Whitewater, and Quality Inn & Suites. And a big thanks, too, to all that came out to enjoy the festivities and help support the Children's Hunger Fund (www.chfus.org).