Bearish on Glen Arbor
The 22-year-old Benzonia runner slipped into Glen Arbor in the morning, turned in a first-place time of 16 minutes and 37 seconds and then had to run off to work as an intern at Elite Physical Therapy Sports Performance in Traverse City.
“Just got out of work,” McKeel said when contacted about 12 hours after the race. “But the race was a lot of fun.”
The recent Grand Valley State University track and cross country middle distance runner was pleased with his time.
“I felt all right,” McKeel said. “I didn’t go as fast as I wanted to.
McKeel finished nearly a half a minute faster than his nearest competitor, second place finisher Paul Salach of Cincinnati. Salach, the top runner in the 13-19 age group, finished in 17:06.
New York City’s Stephen Carr, who was first in the 30-39 division, was third overall in 17:18, just ahead of Maple City’s Caleb Korson, who ran a 17:37. Korson is a recent St. Mary graduate.
“I didn’t recognize the competition and I didn’t really see anyone after the start,” McKeel said. “I glanced over my shoulder with a half a mile to go and kind of coasted in.”
Annie Hughes, 14, of Oconomowoc, Wis. was the top female finisher in 19:14. The soon-tobe eighth grader is in the area this summer attending Camp Kohahna.
Hughes, who ran her first 5K last year in Glen Arbor, was pleased with her performance.
“My goal is always to have something left at the end,” Hughes said. “But I felt like I could have given a little more.”
Betsy Armentrout of Winston- Salem, N.C., who won the 30-39 division, was second in 19:46. Audrey Houghton of Purcellville, Va., who was first in the 13-19 age bracket, was third overall in 19:58.
Leelanau County had two divisional first-place efforts from Chip Feeley and Stewart Newblatt.
Newblatt, also of Glen Arbor, captured the 80-and-over division in 44:58.
“I ran a little bit and walked a lot,” Newblatt admitted.
Newblatt, who will be 85 in December, has competed in every Running Bear event.
“I’ve done it six times,” he said. “And I just love the whole atmosphere.
“I got a medal for being in first place, but I might have been the only competitor in my age group.”
Glen Arbor also had two women finish second in their respective age groups. Mimi Ransick was second in the 50-59 division in a time of 25:22. Plymouth’s Kathy Murphy was first in 23:14.
Maryann Krebs was second in the 70-79 division in 44:51. Patsy Forney of Bloomington, Ind. won the division in 39:54.
“Over 620 people participated in this year’s race, including 120 children,” said Carole Becker, race chair. “Many families plan their vacations around the race, and it’s not unusual to have 10-20 people from the same family running in the race across several age groups.”
The Keshishian family, for example, came with nine people.
“This is our third year running with the bear!” said Sue Szelestey, noting most family members came from the Detroit area. “It is a good way to spend your vacation!”
Proceeds from the race are earmarked for college scholarships and community projects. Next year’s race is planned for July 23.
Following the awards ceremony, a raffle drawing awarded 84 prizes, including weekends at local resorts, dining gift certificates, kayak rentals, and local merchandise.
Students from Glen Lake School compete in the design of the race T-shirt. This year’s winning designs were created by Lane Rudd and Jordan Gates.
Like many of the competitors, McKeel said he liked the course, which started and finished at Lake and State streets.
“It was a looped course and I could see racers the whole way back cheering,” he said.
The 2008 Benzie Central grad, who is still running 60 miles a week, was running the Glen Arbor race for the first time.
“One of my friends said it was a good, fun run,” McKeel said. “And it was fast and flat.”
And McKeel proved it with his time.