Saturday, April 6, 2013

O'Connor, Beckman win 5K, first of GO! St. Louis events

Sean O'Connor breaks the tape as he first finisher in the GO! St. Louis 5K April 6 in Forest Park. Kathleen Nelson photo.
Sean O'Connor just wanted to run a good 5K. He wasn't thinking about running the best 5K. But that's what he did, beating the field April 6 in the GO! St. Louis 5K, the first of seven events of GO's marathon and family fitness weekend.

O'Connor finished in 16 minutes 56 seconds, ahead of David Nischwitz in 17:12 and Ed Murray in 17:46.

"I didn't really know what to expect," said O'Connor, a math teach at Lafayette High School. "I was by myself after about the first half-mile, but I didn't know if I could hold on."

O'Connor said he wasn't training for a longer race, but "just trying to run a few good 5Ks."

The first woman to cross the line was Nicole Beckman, who finished in 20:43 and was surprised by the first win of her brief running career. She started running last year; her first race was the 2012 GO! St. Louis half-marathon. She had raced back and forth Saturday with Jonathan Greever of Fenton, whom she said she didn't know.

"He passed me. Then I passed him, and he got past me right before the finish," said Beckman, who owns Massage Luxe. "I thought the finish tape was for him, so I got out of his way."

The pair led about 2,000 finishers across the line. Among them were middle school students competing in the Read, Right and Run marathon. Their younger counterparts followed the 5K with the final mile of their marathon. Read, Right and Run requires students to read 26 books, perform 26 good deeds and run 26 miles, spread over several months. The program was named Youth Running Program of the Year by Running USA.

The morning concluded with children's fun runs, a diaper dash and the Mature Mile.