Probst, Peppers claim titles in Christiansburg 5K
By David J. Bisset
CHRISTIANSBURG – How do you beat the heat and humidity on the final week of July?
Well for over 100 runners throughout the New River Valley and as far away as Lexington and Bristol, the best way is to run in the annual Cruisin Christiansburg 5K and Fun Run.
Runners raced down Main Street in Christiansburg early in the day thanks to the help of the local Christiansburg Police, who blocked off traffic and made roads easy for all runners/walkers to finish the race no matter how long it took.
The race actually began ahead of schedule (before 8:30 a.m.) but for the runners it was a perfect time to be enjoying a day in the sun. The sun was slowly climbing into the eastern sky but at the same time there was a gentle breeze that swept over the course before the temperatures rose into the mid to upper 90s.
Winning the men’s overall 5K race was George Probst of Blacksburg.
“I led almost from start to finish,” said Probst, who came to Blacksburg for his undergraduate and masters degrees and remained in the NRV ever since.
“I think the first five to 10 steps I wasn’t in the lead but after that I led the entire way,” he said.
Probst turned the 5K race into a sprint wining in 16:38. Second place was Andrew Grubb who nosed out Shane Guynn, the Race Director and Christiansburg High School track coach 17:34 to 17:42 respectfully.
Alex Cooper and Dan Smith finished in a deadlock for fourth and fifth with 18 minute runs. Will Stratton at 18:49 and Connor Gray at 18:59 finished sixth and seventh and were the only other runners under 19 minutes.
Gabriel Whitlock placed eighth and was the only runner in the 19 plus minute mark (19:56).
Three runners ran the course in under 21 minutes to finish ninth, 10th and 11th. They were Mark Joyce (20:08), Erik Olsen (20:09), and Daniel Altizer (21:12).
Pepper Raines was the overall women’s 5K winner with a time of 21:46.
No other runner in the field of 40 was under the 22 minute mark.
Linda Schumann placed second (22:12), with Lynn Baluh third (22:44) and Emilee Hall (22:55).
Jennifer Fleming placed fifth (23:17) while Robin Dowdy took sixth (24:33).
Rounding out the top 11 were Shannon Boston 7th (25:32), Eric Bookout 8th (25:50), Nicole Lloyd 9th (25:52), Nasim Schwab 10th (26:44) and Kayla Richardson 11th (27:23).
Receiving one of the biggest cheers of the day was not the winners of the men’s or women’s overall runs, but the runner in the fun run.
Brian Zentz from nearby Lexington ran as if he was floating on air coming down Main Street. Men and women of all ages cheered this six year old on to victory.
He was clocked in 7:21 and members of the Christiansburg Cross County crew, who served as hosts for this event, shook their heads in disbelief. He ran across the finish line with plenty of energy to spare as if the Fun Run was no big deal to win in under eight minutes.
Mom and Dad as well as his grandmother watched and cheered one of the youngest participants in the event as he crossed the finish line in such a remarkable time.
Brian’s brother, Logan, would finish the course in 21:37 which was good for 14th place overall among the 52 man-field.