Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Leitz and Harrell rule the night in Bainbridge

Running from the front, Gabriel Leitz defeated a field of over 90 athletes, finishing first at the fourth annual Memorial Day 5K Night Race in Bainbridge, Georgia. Leitz's time was 17:35, almost a minute ahead of runner up and top master, David Knauf, who crossed the line at 18:32. Perra Harrell of Bainbridge's Grace Christian Academy was the top woman finisher, 19th overall at 23:12. Cora Atkinson of Wakulla High was second among the women, running 23:37 for 21st overall. The top woman master was Bainbridge's Julie Harris, 23rd overall in 24:00.

David KnaufIntermittent rain hit the area throughout the afternoon, but as if on schedule the sky cleared in time for the 7:00pm start of the race. Without the rain to complain about, the runners resorted to grumbling about the heat. With the blare of the starting siren there was a dash for the front. For a while Bainbridge High senior Harold Martin led the race. But once the initial excitement was over and reality set in, Leitz was in the lead. He was in fact there to stay and only got farther ahead as the race went on. Knauf and third-place finisher Michael Kennett (19:01) likewise established their positions in the first mile and then held them.

In the women's race the runners who went out with Perra Harrell did so at their peril, ending up exhausted and back in the pack. Letting Harrell go, Atkinson and Harris ran their own races, passing many more optimistic if less canny runners on their way to the finish line.

The race had a course change for this fourth year of the race. The runners covered the same loop as in the past three years, but the start and finish were moved about three blocks west. Other than that, the course was still flat, still fast, and apparently still accurate even if still lacking USATF certification. The turns were well marked and the local police provided excellent traffic control. The size of the field was modest, with only 91 runners crossing the finish line. Hopefully, next year the organizers will advertise the race earlier, which should be easy enough to do--after all, they already know that it's going to be run on Memorial Day.