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First-time winners rule at Fool's Run

by on April 06, 2014 1:25 AM

You’d have to be a fool to run in this weather.

Of course, runners are a dedicated group, so with the temperature in the 30s and a strong, steady wind howling around the White Township Recreation Complex, there were still plenty of competitors for the 36th annual Fool’s Run 10K road race Saturday morning.

Out of the hearty bunch emerged a couple of first-time champions, Julius Eckroth in the overall and male divisions and Marilyn Gregory in the female division.

“We’re diehards,” said Gregory, of Twin Rocks. “We’re out all winter. I’m used to (the weather). It was freezing. I went to do my warmup and I almost got blown away. … It’s been such a brutal winter, and I trained all through the winter, so I’m used to it, but it’s still tough.”

Eckroth, 17, of Richland, broke free from the pack early and finished in 38 minutes, 43 seconds, 3:31 ahead of second-place finisher Joey Popovich.

Gregory, a member of the Indiana Road Runners Club, finished in 42:44, 2:30 ahead of the second-place female, Debbie Conner.

A junior at Richland High School, Eckroth won the boys’ 15-and-under division at the 2012 race, his only previous entry in the event. He did not finish in the top five overall that year.

“I was expecting to do something similar,” he said. “I’m not used to being in the lead.”

He got plenty of experience on Saturday, pulling away after the initial lap around the park and returning for the home stretch with no one in sight.

“In the beginning I was with a guy who seemed to be going at a pace I intended on going at, so I was like, OK, I’ll stick with him or he’ll stick with me,” he said. “I started breaking away right at the turn going out. … I was wondering how my pace would do (alone). By the 3-mile mark I was still doing what I was shooting for (time wise), so it helped boost my confidence for the rest of the race.”

Gregory, at 39 years old, dropped 53 seconds from her time last year — and jumped one spot in the finishers.

“I felt pretty good today,” she said. “I was hoping to go faster than I did last year, and I did that. It’s good for me. I’m just happy to be doing it. … It’s really neat (to win). I’m flattered.”

Gregory knows the course well, and its hilly layout meshes with her strengths as a runner.

“I’m pretty strong up the hills,” she said, “so I enjoy a nice course with a good, steady hill, and since I’ve run this before, I know what to expect as far as hills go. I enjoy hills.”

Eckroth competes on the Richland cross country and track teams. He’s doing the mile and 2-mile this track season.

“What I really want to do at the beginning of the track season is get as many miles as possible,” he said.

“We actually haven’t been getting a whole lot during scheduled practices for track, so I’ve been doing it on my own. Races like this are great to get miles in. It really helps me out.”

Rounding out the men’s top five finishers were Thomas Berzansky, Robert Manzi and Marcus Persichetti. Other division winners were: master (over-40, except top five), Doug Ulishney; age 20-24, Andrew Carley; 25-29, Adam Chakot; 30-34, James Thompson; 35-39, Josh Barber; 40-44, James Fernando; 45-49, Tony Battaglia; 50-54, Dan McQuistan; 55-59, Joe Guilyard; 60-64, John Swauger; 65-69, Jim Ostinowsky; 70 and over, John Stump; and walkers, Matthew Boone.

Jessica Burda, Julie Ostinowski and Mary Jean Bujdos finished out the top five in the women’s division. The other division winners were: master, Jamie Skirboll; 15 and under, Molly Zack; 20-24, Emily Hill; 25-29, Tausha Clark; 30-34, Jennifer Grim; 35-39, Delilah Coy; 40-44, Kelli Barker; 45-49, Chris Lasser; 50-54, Noreene See; and walkers, June Stossel.

Eli Nellis is a sports writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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