Posts Tagged ‘25k’

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#56 – Spectating at the Riverbank Run

16 May 2008

While walking to the start we were attacked by “Le Grande Fisch”!

After learning the hard way that I was not quite in shape for a long distance race, I grudgingly elected to skip the the 2008 Riverbank Run. I still didn’t want to miss out on the fun of west Michigan’s biggest race – and the 25K national championship – so Amanda and I drove downtown to be spectators.

It’s been a busy week… Usually I like to write comprehensive recaps on this blog but it’s been almost a week since Riverbank already, so in the interest of expediency I’ll make this one a tale told in photos (with captions).

A few hundred of the 13,000 total participants at the Riverbank Run. Here is the middle pack of the 5K just after the race start.

A group of US Marines double-timed the 5K – these guys were awesome! For the entire run they stayed in formation, chanted non-stop, and the guy you can barely see on the far left holding a flag up high would run circles around the formation; he must’ve run a 10K at that rate! The girl in the foreground must be imitating a penguin?

Another impressive 5K runner was Crash, the field mascot for the West Michigan Whitecaps single-A baseball team, who ran the 3.1 miles in full costume!

Brian Kobi of neighboring Comstock Park cruises to a 2nd place finish in the hand cycle division of the 25K.

Both of the above two photos show Jeff Fischer (front) and Alfonso Zaragoza (rear) fighting wheel-to-wheel as they head for the finish of the 25K wheelchair division. Zaragoza would cross the line just one second ahead of Fischer – exciting!

Olympian Brian Sell shows that winning isn’t easy as he blazes to a 1:15:07 finish to win the 25K national title. He was so fast that my camera’s auto focus missed its target! Sell finished third at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials and will compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Fernando Cabada, 2006 Riverbank Run winner in an American-record time of 1:14:21, finished 4th overall in 2008 in 1:17:01, but he sure makes it look easy!

Todd Snyder (#42) and Mike Morgan (#38 ) push their way to finishing 5th and 6th overall, respectively. They are two of several runners, including Brian Sell, who represented the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in fine style. Back in high school I ran cross country and track against Snyder, who attended our cross-town rival. It really wasn’t much of a race – he was clocking sub-16:00 5Ks in CC while I never broke 20:00. Congrats Todd!

Local speedster Kyle Baker (#6) lives right here in Grand Rapids and impressively finished 21st in 1:23:05, but wasn’t able to catch that guy ahead of him – Jonathan Eckberg (#137) crossed the line two seconds faster.

Caroline Cheprkorir remains focused enroute to winning the women’s 25K in 1:29:32. She needed help to stay upright after crossing the line, but she sure doesn’t look that tired here!

Paige Higgins still striding in great form and would finish 3rd in 1:30:49. I should note that all of the elite runner photos starting with Brian Sell were taken on a bridge over the Grand River at the Mile 15 mark, putting these runners a half mile from the finish line.

The squirrel with a death wish – this “nut” case (ha ha!) kept darting across the course on the bridge and TWICE played chicken with two oncoming hand cycle racers! Those guys were very close to turning that squirrel into roadkill – thankfully they took it in good spirits and the spectators a good laugh, too.

After the Mile 15 bride, Amanda and I walked over to the Mile 14 aid station pictured above. We were joined by Michelle Brunken, one of my co-workers who hung out with us on the bridge after she finished running the 10K. Notice the pep band, which would play UM or MSU fight songs whenever they spotted a runner wearing that school’s colors.

Another friend from work, Perry Cheathem (wearing black), cruises through the aid station. Although I tried to spot several friends it was difficult to recognize folks in time to snap a photo, and in fact I missed some of them altogether. Lance Brown, Dave Horne, Lori Gaier and Francine Robinson were spotted but too late for the camera, and I never saw Brian Cunningham, Rich Diefenbach, Erika Kuhnle and Valerie Vander Berg – all of them finished with great times, too!

Another acquaintance I was able to photograph was Don Kern, although I didn’t realize until looking at the photo that Dick Wolters, a co-worker of mine, was running alongside!

It was a great day for a fun race, and hopefully next year my legs will be ready to run it!

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