San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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July 14th, 2009
Wheelchair racers highlight Firecracker 5K

Run with Moe: A column
By MOE JOHNSON
San Marcos Runners Club

The running course out at River Ridge Business Park is a perfect course for racers in wheelchairs, as it is flat and has very few sharp turns.

Wheelchair races have been coming to our races out at River Ridge for a number of years. When they first appeared we would let the wheelchair racers start five minutes early, so they would not get tangled up with the two-legged runners.

The first loop of the course is roughly three quarters of a mile long. After five minutes, the wheelchair racers would be coming around the turn at the end of the loop just as the runners were starting.  One racer has been a regular in races out there. Kristen Messer makes most of the races and has improved over the years. It soon became evident that the five minutes was a little too much time for a head start. She would be coming up on the runners at the starting line before they started. We would yell, “Track”, so that the crowd at the starting line would move out of the way to let her by.

We have now moved the time down to about three minutes head start.

The Firecracker 5K earlier this month had two wheelchair racers in Austin Cogar and Kristen. This was Austin’s first time at the course and he was a little unfamiliar with the route. At the start, Kristen went out in front by about 10-15 yards and was setting a good pace. Austin was right there behind her about that 10-15 yards distance for the race.

The key to a fast race on the River Ridge course is the back out and back section that is a series of ‘S’ turns. If you follow the turns, you will add a considerable distance to the race, unless you follow a straight-line route of going from one side to the other.

Kirsten took a few races to get this down, but she had it down perfect for this race. Austin followed her through the straight-line path to stay close to her. At about two miles, Doug Framke from San Marcos, the eventual winner of the race, caught up with the wheelchair racers.  Since I was leading the race, I left the wheelchair lead and led Doug to the finish. Doug ran a fast 18:26 time for the course.

I looked back to see the wheelchair racers coming around the last turn. They were side-by-side and putting on a sprint for the last few hundred yards. The crowd was cheering for them, as it was a real race to the finish line. Austin finally passed Kirsten about 20 yards from the finish line and garnered first place for the men and Kirsten finished second overall but first for the women.

Austin came across the finish in 20:34 and Kirsten was 20:40 at the finish. Both times were among the fastest that we have had on the course for wheelchairs.

It was an exciting finish and it was good to have the wheelchair racers take advantage of the course and participate in our races here in San Marcos.

On July 4, several local racers traveled to Shiner for the Half Moon Holidays 5K and 10K races there. Ros Hill was the overall male champion at the race with a fast time of 18:26. He was followed by Britt Van Dine, who took first place in the 48-54 age group with a time of 20:25. Carl Bauer took second to Van Dine with a fast 20:54 time.

In the 10K portion of the race, there were two local runners. Laura Mason took third place in the 42-47 age group with a 1:08:01 time. David Alexander took time off from directing races in the area to take second place in the 55-61 age group with a 1:10:09 time. David’s only complaint was that by the time he finished some of the other runners had consumed all of the free beer being offered by the Shiner Brewery. David had to settle for water and Gatorade.

Don’t forget the open runs by the San Marcos Runners Club every Tuesday evening starting at the Courthouse at 6 p.m. All levels of runners are welcome, and, lately, a group of 15-20 runners are showing up for the runs.

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