Friday, May 31, 2013

Runners race around threatening weather at Big River Festival of Miles


Threat averted.

The runners raced around the weather that threatened the sixth annual Big River Festival of Miles and managed to thrill the crowd of about 1,300 with some exciting races and raise money in the process Thursday at St. Louis University High.

For statistical proof, check the results. But the biggest winner of the evening was Brad Eastman, who underwent surgery for a brain tumor and has begun the long road to recovery. Proceeds from the event went to Eastman, and as he thanked the crowd, a rainbow appeared over his shoulder. You sensed that it was going to be a good night.

Heather Kampf (left) edges Shannon Leinert and Jessica Smith
 in the 800. Kathleen Nelson photo. 

Race photos


The damp weather put a damper on the chances of breaking two minutes in the women's 800, and defending champion Heather Kampf faced a tougher field this time around. Yet, she managed to defend her title, setting a meet record of 2 minutes 1.96 seconds. Also breaking Kampf's meet record was hometowner Shannon Leinert (2:02.14) and Canadian Olympian Jessica Smith (2:02.22).

Kampf earned $1,000 for the win and a $1,000 bonus for the record.

Pacers Ericka Charles and Nevada Morrison  stormed away, "a little quicker than we could go. But it turned out better than I thought. It was a great temperature to run fast."

Turning to the crowd, she said, "I owe this to you guys."

The elite men's mile featured no records but managed to wrap up just before the second round of rain moved in.  Craig Miller edged Daniel Clark and Mexican record holder Pablo Solares, winning in 3:59.23. All three finished in less than 4 minutes, a first for Clark, who races for the Very Nice Track Club - best name ever! So, the mark of 3:55.29, set by Leo Manzano in 2009, is safe for another year.

"I waited until the last minute to kick and it just worked out for me," said Miller, who finished second last year.

High school races


The trek from Iowa was worth it for the Jenks family. And the local  Longs made the podium as well.
Stephanie Jenks led a trio of meet record-breakers across the finishing line in the girls high school mile. Jenks, a freshman, won the race in 4:47.43, five seconds faster than the meet record of Colleen Quigley.

Hannah Long was second in 4:48.53, and Taylor Werner (4:49.43) was third.

Jennifer Jenks won the girls race in 5:25.68, ahead of Olivia Sovereign.
"I'm proud of her," sister Stephanie said. "She worked really hard."

The start of the boys mile. Kathleen Nelson photo.
The boys mile featured neither meet records nor personal bests, but was one of the tightest - and hence, most exciting - of the evening. Missouri's new Class 4 champion, Spencer Haik of Glendale, edged Patrick Perrier of O'Fallon (Ill.), Marquette's Noah Kauppila and Alex Riba of O'Fallon. Haik's winning time was 4:12.23; Riba finished in 4:12.54.

Ryan Parson of Farmington won the GO! St. Louis junior high boys invitational in 4:40.18, a PR of five seconds. Zack Long, Hannah's brother, was second in 4:41.0.

Missouri 100 champion A'Iesha Irvin-Muhamhad bested Nataliyah Friar, winning the 100 in 11.87.

Michael Wells of Cleveland Jr. ROTC edged state 100 champ Raymond Wingo of SLUH in the boys 100, winning in 10.43. Wingo finished in 10.49. Illinois state champ Cole Henderson of Pekin was third in 10.57.

Other winners: Dan Rooney in the masters mile, finishing in 4:45.61, a second ahead of Jeff Neuschwander, and the SLUH 4x100 relay team, despite a false start. The GO! St. Louis healthy kids mile started the evening, just before a downpour and wind buffeted the crowd and sent them temporarily scurrying for cover.

But then, Eastman and his rainbow appeared. And, if the weather scared you off last night, you still have time to donate.