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Fun Run Fireworks
Close finish, proposal highlight 5K
S photofinish
Jason McVey, left, edged out Fernando Greene for the top spot in Friday's race. McVey's time was 17 minutes, 35 seconds. - photo by Jeffery Simmons

The 33rd annual Stars and Stripes Fun Run had a little bit of everything. There was a photo finish, a family reunion and even a marriage proposal.
For the second time in three years, Jason McVey turned in the top time at the Fourth of July 5K, but he was the second-most excited person crossing the finish Friday morning. The top honor belonged to Cora Lee, who was greeted by Zach Youngblood kneeling on one knee when she crossed the line.
Crying tears of joy – most likely due to the proposal and not finishing the 5K – Lee accepted Youngblood’s proposal and leapt into his arms as her family looked on. Lee’s reaction pleased Youngblood as he was hoping to see his future bride in shock.
“I was planning on doing it at our next family gathering, but I didn’t think she’d be expecting it this morning,” said Youngblood.
One thing that was expected when the race started was McVey finishing near, or atop, the leaderboard. After winning in 2012, McVey finished third at last year’s event while Amiel Emerson won the event.
Emerson didn’t run in this year’s event, surrendering his chance to become a back-to-back champion. McVey said following the downtown 5K he had hoped to see Emerson this year, but instead another worthy challenger emerged from the pack of nearly 200 runners.
McVey and second-place finisher Fernando Greene – a past winner – dueled throughout the race. Both runners surged ahead of the pack on the first turn, then traded the lead as the course led across F.C. Boyd Bridge and into the Westwood area.
McVey didn’t get much separation, even as the pair made their way back across the bridge and hit the home stretch down Main Street. When both runners turned it on down the stretch, McVey prevailed by a hair as his official time was recorded at 17 minutes, 35 seconds.
Following the race, McVey applauded Greene’s pursuit in helping him turn in such a quick time.
“I heard footsteps and that pushes you a little faster. I was feeling it at the end. He started his last kick and I had a little as well,” said McVey.
Greene thought he was closing the gap at the end, though it wasn’t enough as he finished just a second later than the winner.
“I didn’t think I would get him when we both turned it on,” said Greene. “I thought I was gaining on him at the end though. It was really fun.”
Alex Smartt was the top overall female winner from Friday’s race, though her time wasn’t available late Friday afternoon. A full list of times should appear in Wednesday’s edition of the Southern Standard.
Robert Davis won the master’s division on the men’s side for the third straight year while Myra Jackson was the top master’s female finisher.
All runners seemed to enjoy the new course, which didn’t include the city’s greenway this year after two years of running that course. Blaine Wilcher, an avid runner and one of the top finishers at the event, thought the new course offered some new scenery and just enough challenges to participants.
“I really liked it. It was something different,” said Wilcher.
Running the 5K course wasn’t the only option though. Members of the Shane family decided to walk the course as part of their reunion. One family member remarked that they did it because, “It was the only way to get everybody out of bed for breakfast.”
Experiencing the race with family members seemed to be a big theme as a number of parents were pushing strollers or running side-by-side their kids for the one-mile run. Event chairman David Marttala believed the event seemed to be fun for all and estimated the numbers were up considerably after rain put a damper on the 5K last year.
Plans are already in the works for next year’s event. This year’s 33rd annual Stars and Stripes 5K fun run was sponsored by Noon Rotary and the Dr Pepper Bottling Company.