Gifford, IL – St. Thomas More’s soon to be sophomore Nick Hess ran the picturesque Gifford Community Festival course in 18 minutes and seven seconds for the number one spot at this year’s. Hess’ victory maintains an unbroken streak of Rantoul natives in the number one spot.
June 25, 2011 - Gifford, IL - Que Broadnax tries to catch the runner ahead of her at the Gifford Community Festival 5K Saturday morning. Broadnax, who is over 60 years old and the cross country coach at Eater Junior High in Rantoul, finished first in the women's 19 and older division with a time of 23:31.
Hess, who crossed the finish line a full 30 seconds ahead of the competition, was an IHSA state qualifier in the 1600m run this past spring. He finished 12th in his preliminary heat and did not advance to Saturday’s championship race at the prep season finale in Charleston back in May.
This year’s race did not recognize the top overall male and female finishers. Hess was first in the 12-18 year-old, combined male and female category. Behind him in second was Brenden Remmington and Ryan Eggerton finished in third.
The men’s 19 and older division title was won by Tom Gelsthorpe of Urbana. Finishing 30 seconds behind Hess, midway through the race he attempted to keep up but was unsuccessful.
“He gave a nice push about the middle of the second mile,” he said about Hess. “I just tried to keep him at arms length. I gave my push at the end but it wasn’t enough to catch him.”
It was Gelsthorpe’s first time running the Gifford 5K and he liked the course.
“I thought the course was very well marked,” he said. “It was pretty shaded on most of it and I liked that.”
Unfortunately, the way this year’s race divisions were set up, the top female runner went unrecognized for her achievement. Keely Smith, of St. Joseph, finished 10 yards ahead of Broadnax. There were at least two other boys in her age group (official race results were not available at the time of this article) who crossed the finish line before her in the 12-18 year-old division and the seventh grader who started running two years ago went home empty handed.
There were many returnees to this year’s race. Jeff Palmer, of Villa Grove, was just one of them. Three years ago, the Gifford 5K was his first competitive race and has run in all three installments.
“I just keep coming back,” he grinned.
He remembers his time was something over 24 minutes and it being a very hot June morning.
“Any time you are running in town, that’s better,” said Palmer contrasting the difference between the course and weather now and then. “That running in the country is for the birds.”
Palmer finished a minute of his 5k personal best of 19:03 at 20:03.
Top Winners ---------------- 12-18 year-old 1. Nick Hess (18:07) 2. Brenden Remington (19:58) 3. Ryan Eggerton (20:07)
Men (19 & up) 1. Tom Gelsthorpe (18:11) 2. Tyler Grey (18:37) 3. Cory Plotner (18:48)
Women (19 & up) 1. Que Broadnax (23:31) 2. Sue Jean (23:56) 3. Sarah Ulrich (24:21)
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