About a month, I registered Joseph for the Gumtree 10k, which is held annually in Tupelo, MS. This is listed online as one of the top 75 running races in the country and the best race in Mississippi. The cash prizes that are eight deep in the open category and also three deep in the masters and grandmasters bring in some quality runners. The race is no where near as large as it was 20-25 years ago, but still pretty big. Joseph had never done this race before and was looking forward to running it. He also wanted to break his own MS 15 year old 1ok record, which he set earlier in the spring in Vicksburg. Unfortunately, he caught a nasty cold this week, and even missed a couple of days of school. Did not get to run much this past week either, and has been full of medicine and no energy. BUMMER. Even so, he still wanted to run the race. Our friend Arash had planned on running it with him, and he did not want to let him down either. Plus, even if he had a slow day, you don’t get many opportunities to run in a race with world class runners from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and other countries, not to mention the best runners from our region. So, Arash spent the night with us here in Starkville, and we got up early and headed to Tupelo.
I don’t know how many people participated in the 10k, but it was quite a bunch. There was also a 2k for kids, which started simultaneously. This race is super well organized, with road blocks at most turns, tons of volunteers directing the runners, arrows painted on the road, and with water stops. The course was new this year, but still is a certified 10k course. However, being certified does not mean it is exactly 6.2 miles (10k) long. Apparently, if it is slightly long, that is ok too. Folks with Garmin watches that I talked to said they measured it between 6.27 and 6.3 miles. Arash had 6.3 miles on his watch, and a 0.1 difference in the mileage would add 30 seconds or more to a true 6.2 course. But, at least it is a certified course, which means records could be set here.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the first 8 runners were all African guys who had come in for prize money. However, 23 year old Tupelo native Drew Kellum did very well coming in 9th overall with a time of 33:39. Drew is a super enthusiastic dude who loves running!
Drew was followed by his friend and New Albany native Bo Boatner, who at age 41 easily won the masters division with his time of 33:51!
Bo is now an assistant coach for Tupelo High School’s running program, and they are extremely lucky to have someone of his caliber helping the team! With Bo helping the new head XC coach, Jonathan Begnaud, who is also a seasoned distance runner, you can expect Tupelo to be even better than they have been in the past!
Despite Joseph’s being sick, he came rambling in 19th overall with a time of 35:48 (chip time was a couple of seconds better than clock time). This time will give him the new 10k record for 15 year old males in Mississippi breaking the record he set in that category at Vicksburg by over 30 seconds. I feel sure that he would have run at least a minute faster had he not been sick. He said he was running up near Bo and Drew for 2 or 3 miles, then had some severe coughing fits and had to slow down. I imagine he was pretty exhausted. Having run a 16:29 5k two weeks earlier, we figured he had at least 34 flat 10k in him. But, that was before he got sick. So, he was happy to finish and break the MS record for sure, but annoyed that he was not healthy enough to go faster! 19th at the Gumtree is very good for 15 years old, so he should be happy. He won the 15-19 year old division, which had 40 guys in it.
Second place in that group was 16 year old Brayden Timmons with a time of 38:18. Brayden runs for Pontotoc High, and their well coached XC team has dominated the 4A division for many years. And 17 year old Sam Ivy was 3rd with 38:34.
Arash also ran well, coming in 22nd overall and second in his age group behind Drew Pellum with his time of 36:07. He thought he started too fast, as did Joseph, but he finished very strong.
The women’s field was incredible with runners from all over the place. African and Russian names were the norm for the top few spots. However, Meggan Franks of Starkville made the top 8 coming in 8th with a time of 37:10.
Just two weeks ago, she came in 6th in the Canadian National Half Marathon Championship with a time of 1:19:01. So, basically she was still recovering from that, but still able to run a fast 10k. She was not overly pleased with her time, as she has run faster 10k splits in longer races, but it was still good enough to break the female Mississippi 10k record, which was held by her friend and former MSU team mate Tiffany Dudley (formerly McWilliams). Way to go Meggan! Beast!
Got a picture of our Starkville crew Joseph, Arash and Meggan after the race. Quite a few other Starkville runners made it to the race too, such as Jennifer Spradling and others. Full results of the race are posted at http://www.besttimescct.com/results/Gumtree12.txt
As we were leaving, we ran into former Tupelo High standout Max Holman and his dad. Max is now running for Ole Miss, and recently posted a time of 14:47 for the 5k! Sweet!
This past Friday, Starkville High’s track team competed in the 5A state meet. Results are not yet posted, so I don’t know how everyone did. I believe the boys team placed second, which was good for them. I know that Mary Elizabeth Stringer was 2nd in the 800m race! Way to go ME!! When results are posted, I will put up a link.