By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
The spirit of the people easily trumped the lousy weather at Saturday’s Family Service and Children’s Aid 5k Run For Fun, and the action itself was full of bright smiles and fast runners.
Nearly 500 participants, including more than 300 kids, warmed up with “The Hokey Pokey” and “YMCA,” and what ensued was a superb race for all involved.
In its first year as part of the Citizen Patriot Run/Walk series, the event included many youngsters hungry to be active and competitive, even if they are often stereotyped as a generation of couch potatoes.
Kids from Boy QUEST and Girl QUEST, afterschool programs run by the Jackson County Intermediate School District, and other runners from local elementary and middle schools ran a 1.2-mile loop of the course donned in colorful purple and blue race shirts.
Race director Bruce Inosencio’s 9-year-old son, Alex, won the kid’s race by a few seconds.
“I thought it was pretty neat because there were some uphills and some downhills,” Alex Inosencio said. “There was this kid, and he was tied with me the entire race, and I just let all my energy out at the finish.”
It was a fitting finish to a week that started with him watching his father run the Boston Marathon on Monday.
“At the six-mile mark, dad ran over and gave us a big hug,” he said.
Paul Swihart, a first-year QUEST coach who ran with the kids, said the event was a blast and a good motivation for kids to train hard.
“We teach them about setting goals and how to achieve their goals and sportsmanship and working on a team,” he said. “I could see out there on the course that a little motivation goes a long way with these guys, and hopefully we can keep them headed in the right direction.”
In the 5k runs it was familiar names and faces at the top of the leader board.
Napoleon junior Blake Garver (17:34.0) edged Lumen Christi junior Spencer Pageau (17:46.2) in the men’s race.
Garver didn’t even enter the race until Friday and said the uphill sections of the course were challenging. It was a tight race throughout.
Lumen Christi runner Mickey Ludlow won her second consecutive Citizen Patriot series race on the women’s side with a time of 20:46.1.
Taking top honors in the men’s walk was Jackson resident Tom Tripp (31:29.3), his second straight win, and the women’s walk winner was Linda Rowley of Rives Junction (38:18.4).