Saturday, April 13, 2013 -- Danese, WV / Babcock State Park
The Gristmill Grinder Half Marathon
Story and photos by Don Parks.
The registration limit of 275 was met well before race day. However, talking to race director Donnie Huspeth it was learned that many of the previous years' winners were at home nursing injuries. So this year we'd be seeing a new champion of the challenging 13.1 mile course through the hills and valleys of Babcock.
One candidate was Bruce Miller who was returning after running
in 2012 and finishing fifth. Once the racing got underway he did find
himself out in front but he was chasing newcomer David May. But
it's easy to keep up a fast pace as the first few miles provide a loss
in elevation. When the trails started heading back uphill Miller made
May was able to hold on for second at 1:39:19 with a crowd of runners left to battle it out for third. Those third place honors went to Christopher Simmons (1:49:53) who was just seconds ahead of Brian Menzies (1:40:57) at the finish.
For the women it was returning Babcock veterans and friends Kate Caldwell and Jamie Fields who had calculated that this might be their year. Caldwell finished third in both 2011 and 2012 while Fields added a sixth place finish last year to go with her second place finishes in both 2010 and 2011.
Just as they had envisioned they were running together as the lead
women early in the race. Eventually Caldwell would pull away to chase
her husband who maybe thought this would be his year to outdo his
wife (it wasn't.)
Knight wasn't able to keep up her previous year's form while Fields was able to grind out her best time since 2010. The end result was Fields taking second at 1:55:27 with Knight right behind her for third at 1:55:43.
Many more finishers followed in a warming mid-day sun. Many more will also be wanting to return next year. As always they'll be a field limit so you need to be sure and get registered early. Suffering has never been so enjoyable.