A record 1,354 runners finish Kids’ Bloomin’ Mile Friday

Posted: May 4, 2013

The Winchester Star

Runners in the 7- to 8-year-old division take off down Handley Boulevard in the Kids Bloomin' Mile Friday as part of the 86th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
Runners in the 6- to 7-year-old girls’ division take off from the starting line Friday afternoon.
Alec Schrank, 14, of Winchester posted the fastest time of the day, finishing the mile in 5 minutes, 3 seconds.

WINCHESTER — Even though there might have been a few minor tumbles at the start — including one big flat tire in the 6- to 7-year-old boys’ race — there were mostly big smiles as bright and shiny as the trophies the age-group winners received at Friday’s 10th annual Kid’s Bloomin’ Mile.

And the two fastest runners — Alec Schrank, 14, of Winchester, and Sydney Staples, 12, a seventh grader at Johnson Williams Middle School in Berryville — were part of the largest field ever.

A record 1,354 kids between the ages of 6- to 14-years-old finished the race — sponsored by Shenandoah Valley Orthodontics — that has grown by leaps and bounds since it began in 2004. Friday’s total broke last year’s record of 1,292 and it’s nearly 1,000 more than the 357 finishers in the inaugural race.

Schrank, who did not run in last year’s event because of an injury, posted the fastest time of the day, finishing the mile loop around Handley High School in 5 minutes, three seconds to set a new personal record in the 12- to 14-year-old division.

“I was shooting for about 20 seconds slower actually,” said Schrank, an eighth-grade student at Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle School and the son of Ed and Brenda Schrank of Winchester. “I didn’t think I was going to get near this good because the course is not flat — it’s hilly. It’s 13 seconds faster than what I ran the other day in school.”

Schrank finished 33 seconds ahead of 12-year-old runner-up Paul Blanco and just four seconds off the boys’ record (4:59) set by Tyler Cox-Philyaw (now a freshman at Millbrook High School) in last year’s race.

Staples won her race for the second consecutive year, moving up from the 10- to 11-year-old age group to win the 12- to 14-year-old division in 5:53. She finished 12 seconds ahead of runner-up Grace Dellinger.

It’s the second consecutive year that Staples and Dellinger have finished 1-2 in their division.

Staples, who has competed in the race in each of the last six years, won her age group in 2009 and said she always looks forward to running in front of a big crowd during Apple Blossom.

“[The crowd] makes you push harder and try as hard as you can,” Staples said. “It takes a lot of hard work but in the end it pays off.”

Brian Zentz, 9, of Middlebrook, won the boys’ 8- to 9-year-old age group for the second straight year with a time of 6:09 (19 seconds faster than his time last year).

Seven of the eight races featured nearly a 10-second margin of victory.

Cameron Williams, 11, won by 12 seconds in the boys’ 10- to 11-year-old division.

Williams set a new PR by 36 seconds, clocking a time of 5:58.

“It actually feels great because I’ve been practicing,” said Williams, a sixth-grade student at James Wood Middle School. “And all my practices are finally doing something.”

Another repeat winner in Friday’s race was Tenayie Jakovics, who led from start to finish to win the 7-and-under division last year, and she surged right to the front and never faded to win the 8- to 9-year-old division by 11 seconds.

Jakovics, 8, of Severna Park, Md., said she enjoys the race — and the Apple Blossom festival — because she gets to spend it with family.

“It’s really good because I always love racing — especially when I win,” Jakovics said. “I always come to this race because I get to see my grandpa and grandma and my family and I really like it.”

Camryn Ubert, 11, of Stephens City, won the girls’ 10- to 11-year-old division with a time of 6:02, finishing 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Kaity McCullough.

Ubert said she hoped to run a little bit faster but she was happy to win her age group because all of the winners have the option of riding in today’s grand feature parade.

“I was aiming for 5:59 so I was [a few] seconds off my goal,” said Ubert, a sixth-grade student at Admiral Byrd. “But it was really fun and I’m proud of myself. I’ve done [the parade] two times and it’s fun waving to people.”

Another local age group winner with family ties in the running community was Garrett Stickley, 7, of Winchester, in 6:55. Stickley won by eight seconds with the only sub-seven minute time in the boys’ 7-and-under division (and his time was 26 seconds faster than last year’s winner).

“At the beginning I felt nervous,” said Stickley, a first grader at Quarles Elementary and the son of Mark Stickley, a former All-American at Virginia Tech and the Handley High School boys’ cross country coach. “I was happy and proud. It’s really fun.”

The only race that featured a sprint to the finish was the final one of the day. Madison Murphy, 7, edged Madison Hobson, 7, to win the 7-and-under division. Both Murphy and Hobson finished in 7:28.

— Contact Robert Stocks at rstocks@winchesterstar.com Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1