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Sunday, December 19, 1999 -- St. Marys, WV
17th Annual 5K Mistletoe Run
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Coverage] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Pic Set 4]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class] [1998 Mistletoe Coverage]

5K Mistletoe
A race or just fun in the December sun?
A spectacular December Sunday afternoon greeted well over 100 runners and walkers as they prepared for the 17th annual St. Marys' 5K Mistletoe Run. With beautiful blue skies, plenty of sunshine and temperatures pushing toward 60 degrees, no one could have asked for a nicer day to celebrate West Virginia's final race of the 20th century.

The always competitive Larry Taylor and Michael Guinn were in attendance and ready to battle for one final win before 2000. With several more top local runners in the crowd the stage was set for a great battle. The playing field consisted of a winding course that included several hills as it rolled through the streets of St. Marys.

Mitch Radella
Mitch Radella sprints toward the finish
With race coordinator Larry Butcher leading the way in his convertible (with the top down... in December!), the race got off to a fast start just after 2:30pm. A number of runners pushed the pace early and clocked the first mile in under 5 minutes, but Guinn still emerged at the front. By the halfway point it was Guinn off the front with Taylor chasing Dusty Dent who was running in second.

Inside the final mile, with Guinn well off the front and on his way to a win in 16:20, Taylor closed the gap on Dent. It wasn't until the final stretch that Taylor was able to hold an advantage and sprint to a second place finish in 16:43. Dent crossed the line at 16:46 to take third place with Taylor admitting, "He worked me out there!" ? insertImage('1999/12/0379/106','right','Kermit H Long','John Mike helps Kerm Long surge to the finish','url'); ?> Among the female competitors, it was not surprising to see Jessica Taylor alone in the lead as she finished in 19:09. Melissa Wood ran a strong race for second in 20:37 while Laura Fitzsimmons took third in 22:18.

With plenty more finishers finding their way to the end of the 3.1 mile course, the smiles came in abundance. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the spirit of competition, or maybe it was just the wonderful feeling that comes with the holiday season and a fine afternoon with friends. What we do know is that they'll be back in St. Marys in 2000 for another great December race.

Many thanks go out to Larry Butcher who assembled an excellent group of assistants. Some of the folks that helped out include Randy, Judy and Pam Nutter, Mike and Cliff Taylor, Max Powell, Max Alkire, the Pleasants County Sheriffs Department, the West Virginia State Police, and the Pleasants County Park Commission. Thanks everyone and best wishes for the holidays and the new millennium.