By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
Jackson County flexed its calf muscles at the Orthopaedic Rehab 8K/5K “marrow-thon” Saturday morning.
In the first race of the 24th annual Citizen Patriot Running/Walking Series, county residents took first place in 54 of the 65 divisions, including top overall honors in every event.
More than 400 people — a race record — ran or walked, with proceeds going to bone marrow and cancer research.
Whie many locals had success, the winners had stories as different as the races themselves.
Daniel Styles of Pleasant Lake, who runs at Eastern Michigan University, won the men’s 8K with a time of 27 minutes, 7.2 seconds. It was his first time participating in the series.
The former Jackson Community College runner said he saw the race on the schedule, realized he had a free weekend and decided to enter the event for what he called “a training run.”
“This was really just my fourth workout of the week,” he said. “I kind of just turned this into a tempo — it wasn’t a 100-percent effort, but it wasn’t an easy run either.”
Not far behind him was someone with aspirations of competing at the college level. Hanover-Horton High School senior Taylor Heath finished the race in 27:21, good for second overall.
Even though he runs year round, Heath rarely has the chance to run in 8K races, and his time was a personal best for the distance.
“(Being able to run up with Styles) makes me a little more confident for college,” said Heath, who plans to run for Lake Superior State University in the fall.
Fellow Hanover-Horton runner Lindsey Burdette was the female winner of the 8K.
Burdette, a sophomore, covered the course in 31:30.6, just ahead of teammate Megan Hubbard, who finished in 32:09.8.
Burdette had a lot of success in last year’s series, but the downtown run was one victory that evaded her.
“The hill going up before going down was a challenge, but it was a good run, and it feels good to win,” she said.
Burdette was not the only winner surprised by the up-and-down terrain.
Lumen Christi junior Spencer Pageau won the men’s 5K, finishing in 17:30.3, and he enjoyed the unexpected test.
“I kind of went out slow and just took it easy and then tried to pick it up, but those hills were a little tricky, and it was a tough course,” he said. “It was a fun race, and if you win at anything, it’s good.”
Fellow Lumen Christi runner Mickey Ludlow was first in the women’s 5K. She turned in a time of 20:57.4, while 14-year-old Shannon Richardson of Jerome was second with a 22:38.7.
Winners of the 5K walk were Janet Scott, 46, of Horton (35:05.5) and Thomas Tripp, 59, of Jackson (34:23.9).
For Tripp it was a reminder of how far he has come in recent years.
Once a marathon runner, Tripp’s weight ballooned to 245 pounds before he decided to kick what he called “a little depression” by starting to competitively walk and cycle.
“I’ve lost 80 pounds through exercise and diet over the course of a year, and now, I’m toning up with some races,” he said. “I got kind of out of whack in my life and quit exercising. … But then I said I can’t be fat anymore and got back to what I do.”
The next event in the series is the Family Services & Children’s Aid 5K on April 24.