Rain may have dampened the path of the 32nd annual Stars and Stripes Fun Run, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the 128 runners who showed up downtown Thursday for the Fourth of July 5K.
The downpour that canceled many of the festivities on Court Square Thursday morning didn’t faze runners, who enjoyed a blissful break from the rain from start to finish.
When the start was signaled by gun shot at 7:30 a.m. in front of the Warren County Courthouse, the drizzle which had been hanging around during sign-ups suddenly stopped.
The rain held off long enough for all 128 participants, who competed in the 5K by either running or walking or doing the one-mile run, to finish without getting too wet.
The fastest finisher was Amiel Emerson, a 19-year-old student at University of the South at Sewanee. Emerson finished the 5K in 18 minutes, 12 seconds to win the coveted six-foot-tall Danny Stubblefield Memorial Trophy.
Emerson is a former student at WCHS who set several records while competing on the school track team. As a freshman at Sewanee, Emerson was named an all-conference runner while competing in track and cross country.
While Emerson has won many races and set records along the way, winning the Stars and Stripes 5K was extra special.
“I had to get this win. I’ve ran this race the last few years and gotten close,” said Emerson.
“I’ve always wanted the six-foot-tall trophy. It’s going to look good in my dorm room.”
Following the race, Emerson received the six-foot-tall Danny Stubblefield Memorial Trophy. The trophy was named after Stubblefield, an avid runner and overall winner of the Stars and Stripes 5K run several times in the 1980s.
Madison Haynes was the top overall female finisher, completing the 5K in 21:47. Chaz Miller received the trophy for the top male finisher after running the course in 18:53.
Jason McVey, last year’s winner, was edged at the line by Miller for the overall male winner’s trophy. McVey settled for being the top finisher in the 30-34 male division.
The Masters division, which included all runners over 40, was won by Robert Davis for the second straight year with a time of 19:00 and Sue Scholl, who finished in 23:37.
This was the second year event coordinators used Riverfront Park and the greenway which connects it to Frank G. Clement Bridge as the path. For years, the course directed runners to McMinnville Civic Center and back to Court Square.
There were several ovations at the finish line as encouraging fans greeted the winded runners and walkers after completing the challenging course.
Though Emerson received plenty of applause, Jenna Mullins may have stolen the show.
Jenna was the youngest competitor at the event as the 4-year-old girl ran the one-mile course with her father Mike Mullins. Jenna was all smiles at the end as fans cheered her on to the finish line.
The event, co-sponsored by Dr Pepper and McMinnville Noon Rotary and chaired for the 13th straight year by David Marttala, saw its numbers drop for the second straight year after setting a record for competitors in 2011 with over 300 total in the 5K and one-mile race.
Rain shouldered much of the blame for the low turnout as many feared the race may be canceled or postponed. The race went on though without a hitch and even drew in some out-of-state runners.
Brothers Taylor and Baylor Teague from Carrollton, Ga., ran the 5K while on vacation. The Teague family was staying in a cabin in Rock Island when they heard about the run and decided to take on the course.
While most of the competitors were runners in the 5K, others decided to take a leisurely walk around downtown. General Sessions Judge Bill Locke was one of many to walk the 5K course, as was the Smartt family who brought with them a companion that nearly forced race organizers to form a new category.
George Smartt, a teacher at WCHS, walked with his two daughters Alex and Madison and the family dog Ausley. Ausley was the unofficial winner of the canine division.
Full results of the Stars and Stripes 5K Fun Run are listed below.