A field of 45 runners and walkers braved the heat Saturday morning, crowding onto Stanford’s Main Street bright and early as they prepared for the 8 a.m. starters’ horn on the ninth annual 5K Run for Independence.
A small crowd also turned out to support the runners and walkers, cheering and applauding each one as they neared the finish line.
The first to hear the quiet roar of the small crowd was Chase Gander, 29, of Hustonville, who was running in his first Run for Independence — and only his fourth 5K.
“I’ve been running about three weeks,” Gander said. “A bunch of the guys I was working out with, they were running on weekends, 5Ks. So I just started running with them some in the week and practicing, and they talked me into running some 5Ks. I’ve enjoyed it since.”
Gander, who completed the 5K course in a time of 21:31, said the Stanford course was challenging.
“The hills. It’s half hills at least,” he said.
The race started in front of Willy’s Overland Garage on Main Street and was a constant uphill run along Danville Avenue and into Oakwood Estates. The course did take a downturn in Oakwood but another steep grade followed. As runners came out of Oakwood, they got another downhill onto Herndon Avenue. There were a couple more slight grades before they turned onto Lancaster Street, and then it was downhill and flat over the remainder of the course.
“This course is probably the hardest I’ve run,” said Gander. “Harrodsburg was pretty hard, Millennium (Park) was easy and there was one more, but this one was the hardest out of the four I’ve run. It seemed like you were always running up.”
It didn’t help that Gander wasn’t feeling well before the race.
“I didn’t really feel too good because we’d worked a bunch of storm work at Inter-County,”¿he said. “I worked all night Thursday night. I’ve slept since Friday morning at 11 when they let me go home. I just woke up to come here so I didn’t feel too good. Once I started to run I started to feel better.”
Justin Poynter, 30, of Stanford, and David Grigson, 26, also of Stanford, finished right behind Gander, with Poynter just eight seconds back in second place with a time of 21:39 and Grigson running third in 22:29.
Gander wasn’t at all surprised at who followed him across at the finish.
“David Grigson was running well. I ran behind him probably two miles, but I think the hill got to him at Calvin Denham’s house (Oakwood Estates) and I passed him,” he said. “And Justin hit nitrous about two miles in and he passed a bunch of runners.”
Gander waited at the finish as the rest of the 5K runners and walkers completed the race, waiting to cheer in his wife Brooke Gander, who walked the course pushing their four-month-old son Gabriel in a stroller, and mother-in-law Shirley Howard. The two brought up the end of the race, finishing together in 45:49.
Both of the top trophies in the 5K run went to local runners with Jenna Ellsworth, 25, of Stanford following Gander across in sixth place to capture first place in the women’s division. Ellsworth’s time for the run, 24:22.
Ellsworth, who won her first 5K a few weeks ago in Harrodsburg, said Saturday’s Run for Independence was a hard run.
“It was a good race, but it was really hot. Really, really hot. I knew it would be,” Ellsworth said. “ I don’t like the heat. I’ve slowed down running a lot where it’s been really warm so I knew it would be hard today.”
But Ellsworth still had fun.
“It’s tough but I really like the course,” she said. “It’s really hilly but you’re not running the same place twice as much as some of the other courses. There are just no breaks.”
However, while the heat and hills loomed, Ellsworth’s biggest concern entering the Run for Independence was not the conditions or course but on how to pace herself.