By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
It was a record-breaking, history-making celebration at the 35th annual Run Clark Lake on Saturday morning.
With Olympic Trials hopefuls, the Michigan State men’s cross country team and some of lower Michigan’s most recognizable veteran runners among the 800-plus participants, seven age group records were set, including the race’s fastest times ever in the men’s 5K and women’s 12K.
Lumen Christi High School graduate and Michigan State cross country runner Josh McAlary experienced redemption and jubilation in crushing the 5K men’s record by 21 seconds with a time of 14 minutes, 47 seconds.
He turned in a 15:10.3 in 2009, just 2.1 seconds off the record, despite being plagued with injury problems most of last summer.
Completely healthy since winter, McAlary has consistently been running 80 miles a week. He was all smiles talking about what it meant to break the record at a race with such a long tradition.
“It’s great because the person who had the old course record (Adam Sprangel) just graduated from Michigan State a few years ago and he’s from Vandercook,” McAlary said, “so I’ve been bantering back and forth with him this summer, telling him, ‘I’m going to go to Clark Lake and smash your record.’ “
Unfortunately for McAlary, he was prohibited by NCAA rules from collecting $100 in prize money for setting the open course record.
Michigan State teammate Ben Miller of Brooklyn also bettered the previous course record with a time of 15 minutes, 4 seconds. Miller said he liked the course because it was flat, but not without some challenging hills, and it was great to run with teammates.
Olympic Trials qualifier Andrea Pomeranski of Farmington took a wrong turn but recovered to break the three-year old women’s 12K record by two seconds with a time of 42 minutes, 55 seconds.
“I think it cost me about four or five seconds,” Pomeranski said of her wrong turn. “It was in the middle, when we turned on the path. It went in three directions, and I went left for about three seconds before I realized I was going the wrong way so (I thought) that probably cost me the record.”
She credits a lot of her running success to coach Paul Aufdemberge of Redford, who set his third different age group record in the 12K Saturday.
In the men’s 12K, Hillsdale High School and Eastern Michigan graduate Josh Perrin pacing the field with a time of 37 minutes, 31 seconds.
Perrin, training for a shot to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials, had mixed emotions about the victory. He said the prize money is always nice, but he too almost got lost on some tricky corners and was hoping to be 30-40 seconds quicker.
“I need a 4:57 pace (to hit the 65:00 half-marathon Olympic Trials standard), and I ran like a 5:03 pace today, so I’m a little frustrated by that, but I went out hard,” he said. “I’m putting real life on hold for like a year-and-a-half maybe, and I’m giving myself two tries (to meet the Olympic Trials qualifying time), one in the fall and one in the winter.”
Kristen Smith of Clarkston won the women’s 5K with an 18-24 age group record of 18:06.
Other record-breakers were Aufdemberge (39:38, 12K, 45-49 age group), Dan Dixon of Jackson (16:37, 5K, 45-49), Dale Hool of Jackson (18:01, 5K, 50-54), and Julie Bloomfield of Jackson (20:33, 5K, 40-44).
Erin Krift (33:42) of Whitehouse and David Swarts of Jackson (26:20) were the women’s and men’s winners of the 5K walk.