Ready for a run

The Alpena Community College and Alpena High School cross country teams held their second annual 5K alumni race on Saturday at the cross country course near the Crittenden youth soccer fields.

A variety of Alpena alumni, many of whom are current ACC runners, showed up to the event. A few parents of runners, such as Alpena runner RJ Centala’s father Bob, participated in the run.

“It’s nice to see the present, future and past join in on a good race together. It’s nice to see parents of former runners here. It’s just fantastic,” ACC cross country coach Mark Jacobs said.

With sunny skies and temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, the conditions were nearly identical to last year’s run.

There were three races: a men’s race, a women’s race and youth race. The youth race consisted of sixth grade cross country runners as seventh and eighth grade runners were away at a meet.

“(The turnout) was pretty good. I know that a lot of my alumni are college runners now, so a lot of them have races this weekend already. I’m just happy to do something at home, that the parents and grandparents and friends and community can come see,” Alpena cross country coach Joy Bullis said.

Before the 10:30 girls race, soda, water, chips and hot dogs were available to all runners and spectators. About 75 people showed up for the events, including runners and spectators.

Many Alpena alumni raced in the girls event, but it was Alcona’s Megan Quick who led the field and finished in 22:55.

“It was really fun. The course was kind of hard, but I like experiencing new courses. This was my first time running in Alpena and overall I enjoyed it,” Quick said.

She had attended running camps with Alpena runners before and knows the girls on the team very well. She is the the first non-Alpena runner to attend the 5K alumni run.

“(Runners from other schools attending the race) wasn’t something that I hadn’t promoted in the past, as I just tried to promote it through Alpena and through our own personal alumni. But, there’s no reason why we can’t invite other local high school cross country teams to come,” Bullis said.

The top finisher for the Alpena girls was runner Jenna Talbot (23:35), who finished behind Quick.

“It feels good (to finish first for the team). Normally I’m behind people, so I’m glad they were able to push me. I got some good advice from coach Jacobs, which really helped in the beginning,” Talbot said.

Alpena runners Alayna Nugent (24:22), Hannah MacDonald (25:21) and Phoebe Wojciechowski (25:22) took third, fourth and fifth respectively.

At 11 a.m. the boy’s race began and the female runners cheered on the boys as they began the grueling race.

ACC’s Jon Fitch won the men’s race, finishing in 17:27, just ahead of Alpena’s Elisha Martin who finished in 17:30. Alpena’s Isaac Cross was third (18:03), RJ Centala was fourth (18:20) and Tellis Donajkowski was fifth (18:32).

The kids race started with instructions from Bullis and Jacobs. They carefully detailed the route the runners needed to take and gave them encouragement before the race began.

Rachel Suszek won the kids race in 16:18. Alexis Reynolds was second (18:43), Daugan Lalonde was third (18:50), Caleb Bullis was fourth (19:07) and JD Bullis was fifth (19:09).

“I try to stay very visible to those younger runners. I go to their practices and gives them tips and cheer them on. It really helps to build a good program by making the kids comfortable spending time with you and comfortable with the high school racers,” Bullis said.

The turnout for the race was similar to last year’s and Bullis hopes to make the 5K alumni race an annual tradition that grows into something big in the future.

“I anticipate it getting bigger and bigger every year as we get more alumni,” Bullis said.