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Saturday, August 2, 2003 -- Elkins, WV
YMCA Strong Kids Campaign Run & Walk (iPO Event Id#: 5722) Story and photos by Tara Struyk

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2]

Race Pic
Racing for the Kids in Elkins
was a very quiet Saturday morning in Elkins, West Virginia. The streets were deserted, and only a few people emerged from their houses, drawn by the flashing lights of a police car, as it lead the way for a small, but determined group of local runners.

It was the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign Run and Walk 5K that brought them out in Elkins. It was the kind of overcast morning when the pull of a warm bed must have been too strong for many to resist. Nevertheless, those who threw back the covers and rose early for the 8:30 a.m. start time were rewarded with an unusually cool morning, a flat course, and a laid-back atmosphere.

Race Winner
Smooth sailing for Steve Johnson
In the men's competition, the race was decided early. Elkins native, Steve Johnson, 18, was the first to emerge from the fog along the course, and covered the distance in what appeared to be a very easy 17:21.

Not far behind was Wayne Bennett of Philipi, 22. He finished second in 17:52. In third place was Elkins' Scott Biola, 23, who grabbed the top ranked spot among the three other Biola's in the race with his time of 18:24.

Among the women, Ashley Varian claimed a resounding victory over the other female competitors. The eighteen-year-old from Montrose, WV, finished over a minute ahead of the second woman in a time of 21:52.

Race Pic
A perfect time to be outside with friends
Jane Rodrigue, 37, of Parsons was second in 23:19 and Erin Lash, 39, of Buckeye took third place in 23:28.

Another family battle took place among the Fry family of Elkins who swelled the ranks by enlisting four participants. Betsy Fry, 39, claimed top family honors, breaking away from twelve-year-old Cora Fry to finish seventeenth place overall in a time of 24:35. Cora was the second Fry finisher, and eighteenth overall in 24:56.

In 22nd place was the youngest Fry finisher, and the youngest competitor in the race. Nine-year-old Maggie Fry posted an admirable time of 28:45, finishing well ahead of Chris Fry, who finished in 31:52.

The race completed, the day still young, the runners headed back to the YMCA to indulge in an eclectic post-race breakfast of fruit, granola bars, and - every runner's favorite food group - ice cream.

The baffled faces of onlookers as the Strong Kids 5K hustled past suggested that rising early on a Saturday morning is certainly not the norm, but participants in this tiny race might say that it has its rewards.