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Upstate runners among finalists for 2013 South Carolina Runner of the Year

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Voting is currently under way for USA Track and Field’s (USATF) South Carolina Long Distance Runners of the Year for 2013. The state’s USATF Record Keeper, Bill Marable, has selected five nominees for male and female open and masters categories. Under his criteria, a runner “must be a resident of the state and a U.S. citizen.” In addition, “only races of 5 kilometers to the marathon distance run in South Carolina” are considered in the voting.

The individuals selected to vote include “top open and age group runners, race directors and other contributors to running in the state.”

Two members of the Greenville Track Club (GTC) Elite team were selected as finalists in the open men’s and women’s divisions. Adam Freudenthal of Greenville, had his best performance at the Greenville News Downtown Run 5K where he posted a 14:41 victory, good enough for a course record. He placed 4th at the highly competitive Reedy River 10K Run in March before sustaining an injury that kept him out of racing until late summer. Once healthy, Freudenthal came on strong at the end of the year. In South Carolina races, he placed 2nd at the Midnight Flight 5K (15:00) in Anderson. In November, he traveled down to Columbia for a pair of 8K road races. At the Governor’s Cup he took 3rd (24:46) and followed up on that effort two weeks later with a huge personal best of 23:52 at the Main Street Crit, placing 4th. Freudenthal is a graduate of Winthrop University and will be looking to focus on the track this spring.

Former ACC champion and the lone female athlete of the GTC-Elite team , Kimberly Ruck, won six of eight road races in South Carolina during the 2013 campaign. She scored big victories at the Greenville News Downtown Run 5K (17:55), Get to the Green 10K in Columbia (37:29) and turned in the top female 8K performance for 2013 among South Carolina runners at Simpsonville’s Sunrise Run (29:25). The Greer native also placed 5th at the Reedy River Run 10K (36:54) and competed well in several road races out of state.

On January 18, Freudenthal and Ruck defended their titles at Greenville News Downtown Run 5K. Under cold and windy conditions, Freudenthal led from the opening gun and never looked back for a 14:52 victory. His time was nearly a minute ahead of the rest of the field. For Ruck, last year’s victory at the Downtown Run was less than satisfactory timewise. On Saturday, she not only ran away with the win in 16:55 (the second place female ran 20:18), but she also shattered the event record of 17:18 set back in 2009.

The Upstate region proved once again that it is home to some of the state’s top masters runners. At the age of seventy-three, Greenville’s George Luke was again nominated for his performances in the masters division. Luke was a perfect 17 for 17 in races for his age group category, setting two state records along the way (44:34 at Reedy River Run 10K, 33:44 at TreesGreenville Turkey Day 8K). Equally impressive, was the nine five-kilometer road races that he ran all in under 22 minutes. His best effort at this distance was at the Greenwood YMCA Run for Life 5K in November where Luke posted a 20:58, just missing his own state record by six seconds (set in 2010).

Local running favorite and former President of the Greenville Track Club, Joe Hammond, focused his training on the longer distance for the fall season. He won the Darlington Half Marathon in September outright in 1:20:18. He then broke 3 hours at Greenville’s Spinx Runfest Marathon with a time of 2:59:05, Hammond’s top 5K performance of the year was at the Greenville News Downtown Run (17:44). He also took 1st place in the 50-54 age group at the Reedy River Run and Cooper River Bridge Run 10Ks, respectively.

Perennial competitors, Dian Ford of Piedmont and Susi Smith of Greenville, were selected as finalists in the female masters category. Ford has won the award on five occasions while Smith took the honors in 2010. Between them, Ford and Smith own a combined sixteen stage age group records. Ford, who mostly competes in distances under 10K, set a state record at the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 16 in 3 hours, 27 minutes, and 18 seconds. Her other state record came at the TreesGreenville Turkey Day 8K (32:26). Ford’s other top performances came at the Prime Line Fast Track, held in her hometown, where she ran a 20:26. She procured a 43:09 at the Reedy River Run 10K in March.

Eight of Susi Smith’s nine state races took place during the early portion of the year. She secured overall victories at the hilly Green Valley Road Race 10 Miler (1:08:36) and at the Greer Earth Day 5K (20:35). At two of the state’s most competitive road races, Smith placed 13th overall at Downtown Greenville’s Reedy River Run 10K (41:28) and followed that performance up next month with a 41:33 a the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K. She was the top finisher in the 50-54 age group at Cooper out of 1,479 runners.

Voters were asked to take into consideration the age of runners in the masters category (40 and over).

The winners of each category will be announced next month and will be featured in the March issue of the Running Journal.

Open Men Nominees

Eric Ashton (Columbia)
Michael Banks (Charleston)
Adam Freudenthal(Greenville)
Tim Jeffreys (Columbia)
Jay Upchurch (Charleston)

Open Women Nominees

Kathryn Cavanaugh (Columbia)
Heather Hunt (Sumter)
Caitlin Judd (Charleston)
Kenzie Riddle (Columbia)
Kimberly Ruck (Greer)

Masters Men Nominees

Eric Ashton (Columbia, 45)
Irv Batten (Summerville, 50)
Marc Embler (North Charleston, 56)
Joe Hammond (Travelers Rest, 52)
George Luke (Greenville, 73)

Masters Women Nominees

Nancy Curry (Mt. Pleasant, 67)
Ruth Marie Embler (North Charleston, 56)
Dian Ford (Piedmont, 58)
Susi Smith (Greenville, 54)
Mimi Sturgell (Kiawah Island, 63)

For the most comprehensive source of road running in South Carolina, including a list of state records, see the South Carolina Running Gazette and ask Cedric Jaggers to join the mailing list.

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