By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
At an event committed to reminding people of the importance of fitness and well-being, fast runners of all ages were the perfect illustrations of what good health is all about.
Saturday’s Allegiance Race to Health and Family Wellness Day saw some runners lock up age division championships in the 2010 Citizen Patriot Run/Walk Series, while it gave others a stage to prove that older doesn’t always mean slower.
Hanover-Horton High School running star Lindsey Burdette, 16, paced the women’s 5-mile run with a time of 30 minutes, 34 seconds — giving her the points needed to wrap up the 14-17 female division over high school teammate Megan Hubbard, who beat her last year.
Burdette said she has been running at least 60 miles a week this summer, and her strategy to win the series came down to running some of the longer races to have a chance to earn more points.
Burdette said she loves running because it keeps her in shape and allows her to eat whatever she wants.
Turning in a winning effort in the men’s 5-mile run was 30-year-old Christopher Gregory of Wyoming, Mich. His time of 26:50.2 was 13 seconds better than runner-up Dan Dixon of Jackson.
Gregory, who also won the event in 2004, is an avid runner who competes in everything from 5Ks to marathons, and he has run roughly 15 events since May.
“The course is great, going through neighborhoods, and challenging because of the hills,” he said. “So it’s enough to keep you honest and give you some challenge.”
He attempted to double up by winning the 5K run less than half an hour later, but Dixon made amends in that race.
The 46-year-old won it with a time of 16:57, eight seconds ahead of Gregory.
“We ran neck and neck until about the two-mile mark, and then we had one big hill left,” Dixon said, “and I decided to push it there and open up a little bit of a gap. He pretty much hung with me the whole way, kept me honest.”
Dixon said he runs to keep his weight down and because he enjoys the competition, but also “so I can keep wearing clothes I wore 20 years ago.”
Someone who echoes Dixon’s sentiments is Christine Vincent of Jackson, who won the women’s 5K with a time of 19:54 and unofficially wrapped up a series title in the 45-49 women’s division.
She said the course was awesome, and like Dixon, the hills played to her advantage.
“I love the hills. I love the hills,” she said. “Whether I’m running or on the bike, I love them.”
She said running is her sport of choice because it’s a stress reliever and a good example of an active lifestyle for her three sons.
David Swarts of Jackson won the 5K walk in a time of 26:20, while Janet Scott of Horton was the top female finisher in 34:56.