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Saturday, March 17, 2001 -- Roanoke, VA
Shamrock Hill 5k Distance Run (iPO Event Id#: 3163)
Story by Steve Crowder with photos by Leslie Crowder

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3]

Race Pic
Running the hills of Roanoke
After two straight days of rain, wind, and cool temperatures, the luck of the Irish smiled on Saturday's runners in Roanoke, Virginia, as they were greeted by near perfect race conditions. As a result, 407 participants turned out to begin their St. Patrick's day by running the mostly flat, fast course, and, while no leprechauns were sited, plenty of fast runners were.

After a brief delay to clear a train off the course, Roanoke City Mayor Ralph Smith sounded the gun, and the racing was underway. Brian Doherty, a standout junior at Roanoke Catholic High School, quickly jumped to the front and began to spread out the field. Doherty was coming off an indoor track season that saw him set school records in multiple events, and, since his school was hosting the race, he was determined to do well.

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"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog."
-- Archie Griffen
Half a mile in, Steve Crowder caught Doherty, and a two-man battle that would not be resolved until the last few steps ensued. Just a few strides separated the two for most of the race until Crowder began to open up a small lead just after two miles. However, the last quarter mile of the course was uphill, and Crowder, who was already tiring, began to slow. As Crowder approached the finish line Doherty was closing fast, but he couldn't quite get by as Crowder took the win running 15:34 to Doherty's 15:36.

Afterwards, Crowder, who was using the race as a kickoff to some faster paced spring training, said he was pleased to get the win, but stated that if the course had been 100 yards longer the result would have likely been different. Doherty, who set a 20 second personal record for the 5k distance, was excited about his time. "I was focused today and felt really good," said Doherty. "After today's race I may have to re-think some of my goals for this upcoming season."

Rounding out the top three for the men was H.T. Page of Wirtz, Virginia. Page ran 16:39 to hold off Will Colban by two seconds and collect not only the third spot overall but also the win in the Master's category.

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The big sprint for the finish...
On the women's side, there was another outstanding performance by a high school junior. Jefferson Forest High School runner Shannon Saunders continued her winning ways by leading the women's race from start to finish. Saunders has won several races this spring and collected her third straight Shamrock Hill title. "I really like this course," Saunders said. "It's fast, and I felt comfortable and in control the whole way." Saunders' winning time of 17:53 was a personal best by almost 30 seconds.

Lydia Odell of Ferrum, Virginia, took second in the women's race with a solid time of 18:49. Kristen Saunders grabbed the third spot, completing the course in 19:22, while Sue Jones won the Master's category in 20:42.

After the race, no one found a pot of gold, but for many runners the delicious bagels, muffins, and cookies were just as good. Proceeds of the race went to the Roanoke Catholic Cornerstone Scholarship Program. Thanks to the Star City Striders for providing finish line services and results.