Warren County resident Mickey Ralph Jr. battled the heat and rolling countryside on Saturday to emerge as the winner of the Viola Valley Half Marathon.
Ralph, 44, outdueled a much younger Aaron Gottlied, 17, of Smithville to win in 1:36:32. Gottlied was second in 1:37:49.
“The heat was just brutal,” said Ralph. “This is my fifth or sixth Viola Valley Half Marathon and this was the worst it’s been for heat and humidity. I won it two years ago with a time of 1:24:48 so the heat added 12 minutes to my time this year.”
In Babe Ruth fashion, Ralph called his shot and predicted he would win before the race. He said Gottlied was a worthy challenger.
“If was his first half marathon and he really ran a good race,” said Ralph. “We ran together for about 3 miles there in the middle and he pushed me to dig a little deeper and fortunately I had enough left in the tank. But what made me most proud of all was to cross the finish line and learn my son had finished second in the 5K. That made the proud daddy come out in me.”
Warren County resident Anne Hunter Myers was the top female finisher in 1:40:28. Myers is a regular winner of the Stars and Stripes Fun Run on the Fourth of July and she competed in the Boston Marathon last month.
Myers said she is thankful to be out there and pleased with the win, but said she’s still building back to full strength from a March injury that lingered into April.
In the 5K race, Jacob Hopkins, 40, of Antioch won with a time of 22:28. Bryant Ralph, 14, was second in 23:44.
According to A Matter of Timing, which did the official scoring, there were 90 competitors in the half marathon and 43 in the 5K.