By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
It was a memorable evening for the record-setting group of 383 runners and walkers participating in the Advance Packaging 5000 on Friday.
They followed a yellow Corvette, the sun was at their backs, and they were raising money for the Jackson Interfaith Shelter while chasing personal-best times.
A pair of young runners — Daniel Styles, 21, of Pleasant Lake and Cayla Nousain, 20, of Concord — paced a field that battled a stiff westward wind all race long.
“There were some hardcore runners and a good mix of people who have been running for 30 years and this whole new young generation of guys like Dan,” race Director Dave Knickerbocker said. “There’s a lot of character in the runners in this town, and I think the running scene has kind of been reinvigorated.“
Styles, an Eastern Michigan University student, was the top overall finisher, winning his second Citizen Patriot Running/Walking Series race in as many starts this season.
He completed the course in 16 minutes, 50 seconds, but said his time could have been quicker if not for the wind and if a competitor had been pushing him a little harder. His time was 50 seconds faster than the 17:40 turned in by runner-up Stephen Chase of Jackson.
“It’s a decent time, I’m not in the best shape right now,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been running, but it’s been two weeks since I’ve had a good workout.”
Chase said he has been training with Front Line Racing the past three years and said he was happy with his finish.
Nousain, who just finished her freshman year at Jackson Community College, said she really liked the course but thought she would be a few seconds quicker.
She won the women’s race in 19:15.2.
“It felt like the wind was kind of taking by breath away,” she said.
The women’s runner-up, Ingrid Rothell of Spring Arbor, surprised even herself with a new personal-best time of 21:11.1 in her first series event.
Rothell and her husband, Clint, moved to Spring Arbor from southern California eight months ago and she registered so she “could just do a tempo run and learn more about the area.”
“I was hoping to get 21:45 or something close to that, so this was nice.”
David Swarts, 44, of Jackson was the winner of the 5k walk, finishing in 25:29.2. Adriane Earl, 24, of Jackson won the women’s 5k walk in 36:52.0.
Knickerbocker said he expects this year’s event to exceed the $3,500 it donated to the shelter in 2009, when a then-record of 337 entrants competed.