Fenton — Joseph Gilbert, 16, wanted a personal-best time at the Fenton Firecracker 5K Run held Thursday morning during Fenton’s Freedom Festival activities.
He ended up doing a bit more than that.
The Lake Fenton junior ended up winning the 5K race, posting a best time of 16:48.4 during a hot and humid morning at the event. The Fenton resident edged out another teenager, Howell’s Connor Joyce, for the top spot. Also 16, Joyce finished in 16:52, less than four seconds behind Gilbert. Another Howell teenager, Dan Kromberg, 14, finished fourth in 17:36.9. The top finishing woman was Fenton resident Jacklyn Juhl, who took 10th overall. She was the only woman to finish under 20 minutes with a time of 19:36.7. Amber Armstead was the second woman to finish, crossing the finish line in 22:15.6. Fenton’s Amanda Thomas was third overall with a time of 22:57.3.
“I came here hoping to PR (personal record),” Gilbert said. “I stuck with the kid who was in front of me for most of the race, and then I had about three-quarters of a mile left, so I kind of turned it on and turned the corner to come to the chute and I felt good. I looked at the time and I got a PR.
“This is my first year ever doing this race, but I like doing 5Ks. My goal was to win the Crim 5K this year, but I have a cross country meet that same day, so I won’t be able to participate in that.”
Gilbert is a member of Lake Fenton’s boys cross country team. The squad won a regional championship last fall and followed that up by placing 14th at the Division 2 state meet. It looks like the Blue Devils will continue their recent strong finishes while Gilbert remains at the school.
“We are hoping to do good in regionals this year,” Gilbert said. “We have a lot of dedicated sophomores and a lot of them are pushing it a lot and are running in this race at this moment. We are hoping to get reloaded for another regional championship my senior year, but this year we are going for around second or third.”
The event also supports a 2.5K event that isn’t officially timed.
However, it’s quite possible that Jacob Orzol, 8, ended up being the first runner past the finish line competing in the 2.5K event. Orzol isn’t new to racing though. He’s a regular at the Wednesday Night Races at the Park held at Linden County Park for four Wednesdays during the summer. That event has two more races left, July 10 and July 17.
“I hurt my leg this morning, so I had no clue what I was going to do any good, but I did,” Orzol said. “I have fun doing the cross country races, and I wanted to see how I would do on the pavement.”
Every race has its special twist, and the Firecracker 5K’s appeal has to do with the time of the race. It is ran on a large portion of the Fenton Freedom Festival’s parade route, giving runners a chance to show off their athletic ability to those waiting for the parade to start.
“It’s the same thing with the Crim,” Gilbert said. “You hit the main parade route and you have everybody and it’s great. I heard my name a lot. My dad pretty much knows a lot of people who know me.”
The rest of the men’s top 10 finishers were Andrew Behnke in fourth in 18:23.1, Patrick Hamilton in fifth in 18:28.9, Sean Thomas in sixth in 19:01.0, Nathan Katic in seventh in 19:01.9, Kaeden Adler in eighth in 19:08.2, Kyle Harmer in ninth in 19:22.5 and Jacob Hickman in 10th (11th overall) in 19:50.4, just .3 seconds ahead of Tyler Wold (19:50.7).
Youth was served as five of the top 10 male runners (Joyce, Kromberg, Hamilton, Katic and Adler) were teenagers still in school.
The women’s top 10 were more diverse among the age brackets with the ages ranging from 14 to 65. Juhl and Armstead were followed by Amanda Thomas (22:57.3), Amber Callahan (23:04.0), Kate Childers (23:04.9), Addison Thomas (23:06.2), Kate Brody (23:08.8), Jordan Durst (23:20.3), Taylor Ovadek (23:57.4) and Jan Logue (24:55.8).
One-hundred fifty-six runners finished the 5K event, with many more finishing the 2.5K event. Runners who were not able to finish the race before the start of the parade are taken off the course.
The youngest listed 5K finishers was Virginia’s Davis Maser. The 5-year-old finished in 39:19.9. The oldest registered finisher was Fenton’s David Kemp, 67, who finished in 36:53.1.