Running Journal Grand Prix XXXII Champions
The Running Journal Grand Prix completed its 32nd season on Memorial Day at the Cotton Row 10K in Huntsville, AL. Final awards for the Grand Prix were given out after the race and most of the champions were on hand to receive them and socialize with one another after the competition was over.
Runners had begun the season nine months earlier by running the only nighttime race at the Midnight Flight 10K in Anderson, SC, in September. A couple of weeks later, the series moved to the hills of Asheville, NC, for the Asheville Citizen-Times Half-marathon. The first Saturday of November found runners in Birmingham, AL, for the Vulcan 10K and later in the month, Grand Prix participants spent Thanksgiving Day in Charlotte, NC, at the Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot 8K. The GP finished out the year of 2009 at the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL, for the only marathon on the series.
The first race of the 2010 part of the series was to have been the Myrtle Beach Half-marathon, but due to a rare snowstorm at the beach, the race was cancelled, the first time any Grand Prix event has been cancelled. The next race of the series was the Little Rock Half-marathon in Little Rock, AR, making its inaugural run on the GP circuit. Two weeks later, runners ran another half-marathon at the Germantown Half-marathon in Memphis, TN. Grand Prix runners who ran in both of the March half-marathon races were able to score double points for their highest placing of the two. Several runners took advantage of that opportunity and scored well with this double. To finish the season, runners traveled back to Huntsville to run the Cotton Row 10K.
In the end, there were some familiar faces on the awards stand and some newcomers to the series. The following is a recap of the season and impressive performances of the individual champions of Grand Prix XXXII.
Rules Note: Only runners who resided in the southeast were eligible for competition on the Grand Prix. Runners had to run in at least two Grand Prix races to be eligible for final awards. Those receiving open and other overall awards (masters, grand masters, senior grand masters, and veterans) were not included in the age-group competition at year’s end.
Open Female Champion – Janet Cherobon
After finishing second last year in this division, 31-year-old Janet Cherobon of Rome, GA, returned to the top spot that she held in 2007 and 2008. This year, she scored 510 points in four races, and was perfect in doing so, picking up first place in all four.
Cherobon led the way once again at the Rocket City Marathon, running 2:38:21, a race she has now won three times. She also lowered her own course record for the third straight year at the Germantown Half Marathon in 1:14:12. Her 33:35 put her at the top of the Vulcan 10K field and she finished up the season with a 33:44 winning time at the Cotton Row 10K.
Candace Jacobs, 29, of Huntsville, AL, scored 225 points in two races to place second in the division. She was third in the December Rocket City Marathon in 2:57:31. Jacobs finished fourth (37:57) at the Cotton Row 10K.
Since no Female Masters competitor met the two-race rule qualification, the next division champion was Female Grand masters. The category was led by Shirley Smith, 51, of Easley, SC. Smith was one of several South Carolina women to lead their divisions on the GP. Smith scored 305 points in four races.
She had two first-place runs on the series, the first being the season-opening Midnight Flight 10K (48:42) and the other on Thanksgiving Day at the Turkey Trot 8K (36:44). She placed fourth at the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon (1:49:41) and finished the season with a 49:24 run at Cotton Row, good for fourth place.
The Female Senior Grand masters division was led by Brenda Cooter of Grovetown, GA. The 63-year-old is a veteran competitor on the circuit, having taken several division wins. This season Cooter scored 445 points, running five races.
She was first at the Vulcan 10K in 58:05. She took third place at the tough Asheville Citizen-Times Half marathon (2:19:18) and the Cotton Row 10K (59:08). Cooter scored double points with another third-place finish at the Rocket City Marathon (5:13:54). She was fourth in the season opener at Midnight Flight in 1:02:54.
E.K. Tolley Beeson was a new competitor on the Grand Prix circuit this year and she was very successful leading the Veterans Division. The 73-year-old is from Sumter, SC, scored 355 points in three races.
She started out the season with a first-place run at the Midnight Flight 10K in 1:15:50. She scored big at the Rocket City Marathon where she was first in the division, running 6:06:37. Tolley-Beeson ran the final race of the series, the Cotton Row 10K, where she was fourth in 1:21:50.
Open Male Champion – David Riddle
David Riddle of Huntsville, AL, took the win in the Male Open Division. The 28-year-old totaled 300 points. He scored double points at the Rocket City Marathon, winning the race in 2:26:23, more than four minutes ahead of second place. Riddle was the first hometown runner to win the event in 30 years. He ran 31:37 at the Cotton Row 10K, where he was the first finisher from the southeast.
Josh Whitehead, 31, of Madison, AL, was second in the division with 265 points. He was second from the southeast in both the Rocket City Marathon (2:34:24) and Cotton Row 10K (32:01).
Michael Green, 34, of Troy, AL, finished in the third spot with 195 points. He took first place at the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon, running 1:11:07, and was second at the Vulcan 10K in 30:32.
In the Male Masters Division, Tim Vinson of Madison, AL, led the way with 285 points. The 45-year-old was first from the southeast in the Rocket City Marathon, running 2:45:42. Vinson was second at the Vulcan 10K in 35:39.
Another newcomer to the Grand Prix competition this year was Richard Hefner, 63, of Gastonia, NC. Hefner scored 320 points in seven races to lead the Grand masters division.
Hefner started out the season with an eighth-place finish at the Midnight Flight 10K (43:12) and a sixth-place run at the Asheville Citizen-Times Half-marathon (1:39:55). He was fifth (42:31) at the Vulcan 10K, and sixth (33:31) at the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 8K. Hefner ran both the Little Rock Half-marathon and Germantown Half-marathon. At Little Rock, he ran 1:33:09 for third place and 1:35:33 at Germantown for sixth place. He earned double points for his best finish of the two at Little Rock.
Another runner from Gastonia, NC, led the Senior Grand masters division. Jerry Sofley, 63, has competed well on the Grand Prix circuit several times. This season he scored 455 points in four races.
In three of the events, all half marathons, he finished second: Asheville Citizen-Times (1:44:18), Little Rock (1:42:27), and Germantown (1:45:00). He scored double points for his Little Rock finish. He ended the season with a seventh-place 46:16 at the Cotton Row 10K.
Seventy-one-year-old Larry Marett of Amory, MS, led the Veterans division with 585 points. Marett competed in five races and was able to score double points in two of those.
At the Rocket City Marathon he ran 4:07:34 for second place. He ran in both of the Spring half-marathons, where at Little Rock, he ran 2:00:33 for second and was first at Germantown, earning double points in 2:06:15. Marett also placed first (52:27) at the Vulcan 10K.
Age Group Champions
In female age-group competition, Jamie Clay, 53, of Huntsville, AL, led the 50-54 age group with 225 points. She placed third (3:57:20) at the Rocket City Marathon and second (49:00) at the Cotton Row 10K.
Lynn Grimes, 58, of Blythewood, SC, took her first win on the Grand Prix, leading the 55-59 age division. Grimes scored 310 points in three races. She scored double points with a third-place finish at the Rocket City Marathon, running 4:15:40. She was second at both the season opener at the Midnight Flight 10K (57:01) and the final event of the season, the Cotton Row 10K (57:14).
Betty Burrell, 66, of Pendleton, SC, scored 495 points to lead the 65-69 age group. She competed in five races and finished first in the division in four of those. Her first place runs came at the Asheville Citizen-Times Half-marathon (2:21:05), Turkey Trot 8K (46:14), Vulcan 10K (1:02:27), and Cotton Row 10K (1:04:23). Her only second place on the season was at the first race of the series, the Midnight Flight 10K in 1:01:42.
Yoshiko Setser, 73, of Weaver, AL, placed first in two races to score 200 points and lead the 70-74 division. She ran the Vulcan 10K (1:03:59) and the Cotton Row 10K (1:06:37).
The male age group 50-54 came down to a tie for first place. Charles Reagan, 53, of Milan, TN, last year’s winner in the division, was one of the runners who scored 195 points to lead the division. Reagan scored 195 points with a first-place run at the Germantown Half-marathon (1:25:11) and second place at the Cotton Row 10K (39:49).
Also scoring 195 points was Joe Francica, 53, of Huntsville, AL. Francica was third at the Rocket City Marathon, running 3:19:44, and fourth at the Cotton Row 10K in 39:58.
Another repeat winner in his age division was Bob Nelson, 58, of Charlotte, NC, who led the 55-59 division with 225 points. Nelson ran in three races and finished second at the Midnight Flight 10K (42:53) and the Turkey Trot 8K (33:25). He was fourth at the final race of the season, the Cotton Row 10K, where he ran 43:38.
Paul Legrand, 59, of Huntsville, AL, was second with 200 points. He was second at the Rocket City Marathon (3:17:49) and sixth at the Cotton Row 10K (44:05).
Johnny Goode, 63, of Birmingham, AL, led the 60-64 age group with 265 points. He was first at both the Vulcan 10K (44:15) and Germantown Half-marathon (1:39:04). Goode finished fourth at the Cotton Row 10K in 45:23.
Bart Smith, 64, of Asheville, NC, finished second with 210 points. He was first at both the Turkey Trot 8K (32:01) and the Asheville Half-marathon (1:32:25).
Don Vining, 65, of Cleveland, GA, was a new competitor on the Grand Prix this season. Not only did he win his division (65-69) in his first season, but he was also the only runner to run in each race. Vining scored 830 points.
He had several first-place runs on the series, Asheville Half-marathon (1:54:21), Little Rock Half-marathon (1:45:31), and Germantown Half-marathon (1:49:17). He was second at the Turkey Trot 8K (36:34), Cotton Row 10K (45:50), and Midnight Flight 10K (47:25). Vining finished fourth at the Vulcan 10K (47:08) and was fifth at the series only marathon, the Rocket City Marathon, in 4:00:23.
Jim Strowd, 68, of Davidson, NC, scored 310 points for second in the division. Strowd was first in the season opener, the Midnight Flight 10K (46:00), and third at the final race of the season, the Cotton Row 10K (49:30). He had a third-place finish at the Turkey Trot 8K (36:58) and was fourth at the Vulcan 10K (46:16).
Seventy-eight-year-old Dewayne Morris of Birmingham, AL, was first in the 75-79 age group with 170 points. Morris finished second in both the Vulcan 10K (54:25) and Cotton Row 10K (59:27.
Next season’s Grand Prix begins Sept. 3. Don’t Miss it!
Photos (From Top Left)
1) Janet Cherobon - Female Open Champion (Photo by Huntsville Track Club)
2) Shirley Smith - Female Grand masters Champion (Photo by Carolina Snapshot)
3) E.K. Tolley-Beeson - Female Veteran Champion (Photo by Carolina Snapshot)
4) David Riddle - Male Open Champion (Photo by Huntsville Track Club)
5)Jerry Sofley led Sr. Grand masters, Richard Hefner won Grand masters
6) Larry Marett - Veterans Champion (Photo by Donna Manley Photo Team)
7) Betty Burrell - Female 65-69 Champion (Photo by Carolina Snapshot)
8) Bob Nelson - Male 55-59 Champion (Photo by Carolina Snapshot)