Teacher earns A for 5K effort

A Columbus educator passed her test when she completed the 5K race Saturday in the Mill Race Marathon.

Laura McCracken, a seventh-grade English teacher at Northside Middle School, had prepared for the event after receiving a Fitbit from her husband for Mother’s Day. McCracken said she eventually shed 30 pounds after the pair ran together.

The Mill Race Marathon was her second 5K event.

“I feel healthier and I’m really enjoying it and my goal today was to finish and run the whole way and I did both of my goals,” McCracken said.

McCracken added that she enjoyed the race atmosphere as well.

“There’s all types of people here and everybody’s getting healthy, and every time we run we’re better, and, you know, a little injury here and there is a setback, but it’s a really good healthy community event,” she said.

Pace runners help

Marathon organizers introduced pace groups this year to enable runners seeking a desired finish time to run in a pack. Several pace runners could be seen throughout the race carrying signs with a specific time posted on them.

Indianapolis resident Stephanie Banker said her goal was to help runners who wanted to beat or make their time. She said that if runners try to get out in the race too fast, they will wear themselves out.

“That’s why it’s so good to run with a pacer because they can talk you through it … so you’ve got to train, you got to train,” she said.

Firefighters support causes

A group of firefighters from the German Township Volunteer Fire Department completed the 5K donning their firefighter gear to raise awareness of volunteer fire departments and support fallen firefighters.

Lt. David Parks, who was joined by some cadet firefighters, said the group tries to participate in as many 5K races it can in support of fallen firefighter Lt. Rick Drake, a German Township volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty six years ago. Drake was at the station checking equipment when he died suddenly.

In nick of time

Wayne Brockman of Avon wasn’t scheduled to work this weekend, which is rare for the CSX Railroad employee, so he set the alarm for 4 a.m. and made the hour-long drive to Columbus with his girlfriend, Tammy Hoefling. Brockman, a first-time participant in the Mill Race Marathon who ran the half-marathon, was among runners who signed up after the registration table opened at 5:30 a.m. Saturday. He checked in about an hour later — 55 minutes before the train-horn “gun” for marathon and half marathon runners.

Getting up that early to run 13.1 miles might seem like pulling teeth for some folks. But it was actually Brockman’s dental hygienist, runner Morgan Shoffner of Columbus, who recommended it — as he was getting his teeth cleaned.

Brockman wasn’t the only person to sign up the day of the event. He was joined by 25 others Saturday.

Among them were Suleman Abrar, a 33-year-old Ethiopian who came in from Morristown, N.J., to run the full Columbus marathon and several other races in the United States. Abrar, a first-time entrant in the Mill Race Marathon, registered at 6:50 a.m. Saturday, just 40 minutes before the start. The runner said his personal best coming into Saturday was 2 hours, 19 minutes, 22 seconds, set during a 2014 marathon in Cuidad Real, Spain. On Saturday, he finished second with a time of 2:26:43, good for a $1,000 prize, which was a nice return on his $95 entry-fee investment.

“A lot of the elite people are showing up at the last minute,” said Nancy Drew, who works for End Result Co. and was accepting registrations Saturday morning at The Commons.

Abrar’s personal best is considerably quicker than any of the four Mill Race Marathon winning times — 2013 winner Danny Fisher, at 2:32:51; 2014 winner Geoffrey Kiprotich, at 2:26:35; 2015 winner Bryan Morseman at 2:26:41; and this year’s winner, Japhet Kipkoech, who finished at 2:23:08 and earned the $1,500 top prize. 

Morseman was fourth this year and Kiprotich was fifth in return efforts.

— Compiled by reporter Matthew Kent and editor Tom Jekel