Daily photos by Jonathan Palmer|
Two hundred and thirty-eight runners finished the Spirit of America Run at Point Mallard Park on Saturday morning. Another 49 runners completed the one-mile fun run.
Harris fastest again
Athens, Moulton runners claim Spirit titles
By Paul Stackhouse
Maybe Tyrone Harris is making up for lost time.
Harris, 27, didn’t run as an Austin High student, but he has done plenty of roadwork in the decade since graduation. He’s pretty good at it, too, and managed a first-place finish Saturday in the Spirit of America Run at Point Mallard. He has been a frequent visitor to the champions’ podium in area races the past couple of years.
He crossed the finish line in 27 minutes, 3 seconds, which was more than a minute faster than the second-place finisher, 31-year-old Jason Reneau of Madison. Reneau finished in 28:05.
In the female division, Whitney Montgomery, 19, of Moulton took top honors in 36:40. In the 1-mile run, Kamron Potter, 11, of Town Creek won in 6:12.
Harris, said he had an interest in running cross country in high school but didn’t decide to pursue it until college.
Tyrone Harris of Athens continues to pile on the wins in area races. The 27-year-old ran five miles in 27 minutes, 3 seconds to win the Spirit of America Run at Point Mallard on Saturday morning.
“I went to college in Auburn from 1998 to 2001,” Harris said. “I walked on at Auburn, trying to make the cross-country team, and I got a scholarship.
“Making the team was something I really wanted to do, so afterwards, I went to school and ran cross-country on scholarship from ’99 to ’01.”
Harris had a double major at Auburn with a degree in criminology and clinical exercise. Now living in Athens, he is employed at Huntsville Hospital as a clinical exercise specialist.
After school, his running routine slowed down.
“I went to Atlanta after school, and let things get away from me,” Harris said. “I just lost a lot of the things I had been working to improve — both mentally and physically. I moved back here (to Athens) in 2002 and started putting together my own regimen to do things better.
“I feel like I’m still in a basebuilding process, but I’m ready to do it, ready to improve everything I do — again, both mentally and physically. It’s going to take me a while but I see a lot of good things in my future.”
Harris said he believes he’s entering his prime as a runner. In last year’s Spirit run, he finished second with a 27:29 time. In 2006, he also won the Brooke Hill Run for Awareness and the Frosty Freeze events. This year, he has second-place trophies for the River City Run and the Jesse Owens Memorial.
“I really enjoy running and feel I’m just in my prime now to work on doing a lot of things a lot better,” he said. “I’ve been running for about 10 years now and well, I’ll be ... this weekend marks 10 years that I have been running one way or another.”
Montgomery, a student at Alabama, said she is just happy to be back running again.
“I’m coming off a knee injury,” said Montgomery, who ran competitively at Lawrence County High. “I injured my knee about three months ago, and it has gotten a lot better lately.
“I like running, and I was getting prepared to run the Country Music Marathon in March or close to April and I injured my knee. I had already paid my money — everything. I lost it all, but I’m glad to be getting back to marathon speed.”
Nineteen-year-old Whitney Montgomery of Moulton ran the five-mile course in 36 minutes, 40 seconds, 57 seconds faster than the second-place finisher, Sara Masterson of Huntsville.
Now healthy, she doesn’t plan on slowing down soon.
“I’ve run races my whole life, and I look forward to marathons and just racing for fun,” she said.
Last year’s overall winner, Heath White of Moulton, finished fourth this year with a time of 28:48. He ran 26:57 last year.
Eric Schotz, one of the race coordinators, said the talent pool and numbers in the Spirit of America Run continues to increase. More than 225 runners signed up to participate for this year’s race.
“We had a great pre-registration for this race,” Schotz said. “We knew it was going to be a strong field this year, and we were right. People just like running this race, especially because of where it is. They love running the trails here in Point Mallard, and they love running in the shade.”
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