CEDAR CITY – Runners took their marks, as the Utah Summer Games 5k took place Saturday morning, following Friday morning’s 10k competition.
The 3.1-mile course was the same as years past, but is now U.S. Track and Field – more commonly known as USATF – certified.
Ed Christy, first time event coordinator and USATF level three and International Association of Athletics Federations level five elite coach in endurance, wanted to bring a stronger USATF presence to Southern Utah.
“This year the 5k course was certified by USATF which allows your course to run for records, all American times, and numerous other USATF awards.” Christy said, “next year the 10k course will also be certified.”
The course is known for its downhill descent, but did not exceed a certain amount of elevation change, allowing it to be certifiable.
“I believe right now this 5k course is the fastest 5k course in Southern Utah,” Christy said. “Not only is it fast, but it’s legally fast. It doesn’t drop too much so you can run records on it.”
The certified course also means that it is the precise distance. The current Summer Games course is estimated to be within a foot of 3.1 miles, Christy said.
Familiar faces were seen at the race as Friday’s 10k champion, Eric Lambert, member of the Cedar High School cross country team, came back for more.
After taking second overall in the 5k, Lambert said he was happy to be out racing.
“The Summer Games is a great opportunity for a lot of people to come together,” he said. “It’s an awesome place to have a road race because you get people from all over, you get some competition, you don’t normally race against.”
The women’s first-place finisher is no stranger to running. Amber Green was the overall women’s 2012 St. George Marathon winner, but this was her first Utah Summer Games appearance.
“I loved this course,” Green said. “I’ve never run it. When I started, about a mile in, I asked myself, ‘Why have you not done this?’ So I’ll come back. I’ll do it again, I loved it. It’s good elevation training. It’s a nice, beautiful course and downhill. It was fast and felt great.”
With a limited running background, Green ran her first marathon in 4 hours and 23 minutes. Several marathons later she has a personal record of 2 hours and 40 minutes.
“I fell in love with running and I think that was the key,” she said. “I just loved it and so I ran a lot. Since then, I’ve run close to 30 marathons.”
Green’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic trails, having to hit a time of 2 hours and 43 minutes on a U.S. trials qualifying course.
The Summer Games 5k was approached as a training run for Green. She will be competing in Grandma’s Marathon Saturday in Duluth, Minn., in hopes of hitting a qualifying time for the upcoming trials.
The 5K kicked off the second Saturday of Utah Summer Games coimpetition. Sports continue with Equestrian, girls gymnastics, karate, singles racquetball, shooting, youth soccer, swimming and women’s adult volleyball. With no sports on Sunday, competition will resume Monday with the basketball skills event.
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