Shires, Jackson lead Derby 50K field

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo galleries: Set 1Set 2
* Complete results (PDF)
* Race website

DERBY — Mike Fiorito’s muscles tightened and cramped after the first of three 10.5-mile loops on Saturday morning in Derby.

Bill Shires didn’t have that problem. The 49-year-old Charlotte man stayed steady throughout the 12th running of the Derby 50K (31.5-mile) event to win handily. Shires crossed the finish line, marked by a blaze of yellow paint outside the Derby Community Building, in 3 hours, 36 minutes and 18.7 seconds.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Bill Shires, right, leads Mike Fiorito early in the first of three loops on Saturday in the 12th running of the Derby 50K in northern Richmond County.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Bill Shires, right, leads Mike Fiorito early in the first of three loops on Saturday in the 12th running of the Derby 50K in northern Richmond County.

Fiorito, 47, of Apex, fell to fourth overall and third in the men’s standings in 4:15:53.9. Michael Dalsey, 52, of Roanoke, Va., took second — and third overall — in 4:09:17.9.

Leigh Jackson, 27, of Raleigh, was the top female finisher and second overall in 4:07:55.5. It’s the fastest winning time in the women’s field since Donna Palisca’s 4:06:10 in 2010. Course record holder Annette Bednosky, 48, of West Jefferson, took second in the women’s standings and fifth overall in 4:28:00.6. Bednosky completed the race in 4:00:31 in 2006 at the age of 38 to set the women’s standard.

Both Shires and Jackson were awarded the winner’s loot — a derby hat, a finisher’s mug and custom-made pottery created by fellow ultra runner Irene Russell.

MacKenzie Spradlin  | PeeDeePost.com Leigh Jackson, of Raleigh, led the women's field from very early on en route to a convincing victory.

MacKenzie Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Leigh Jackson, of Raleigh, led the women’s field from very early on en route to a convincing victory.

For the second year in a row, Hamlet resident Lee Watson was the top Richmond County finisher. He set a course personal best in 5:18:11.3 compared to last year’s 5:48:56.

Sherri Caulder, 52, of Ellerbe, was the top county female finisher in 5:48:53.7. It was Caulder’s first attempt at the ultra marathon distance, which is generally defined as a distance greater than the 26.2-mile standard marathon.

Persistence pays off

It didn’t seem as if Michael Lee, of Garner, was about to do anything special on Saturday — especially when he decided after his second 10.5-mile loop that he was finished. He wasn’t ashamed to take the “DNF,” short for Did Not Finish.

It was, Lee figured, “a 20-mile training run. You go to the next one.”

But the 49-year-old seemed inspired by others pushing through their own trials and, after a 17-minute break, pushed on.

Lee finished his first loop in 1:24:23 — 1 hour, 24 minutes and 23 seconds. His second lap was just shy of two hours and while his third and final lap was also his slowest in 2:19:25.9, he finished 23rd overall in a field of 69 official finishers.

“I’m not having fun anymore”

We talked with Ellerbe resident Sherri Caulder last week at the finish line of the Farmers Parade 5K in her hometown. On Nov. 22, Caulder placed second overall in the women’s standings in 27:19.9, a pace of 8:49 per mile.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Ellerbe resident Sherri Caulder perserved and made it through to the finish line of her first ultra marathon attempt.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Ellerbe resident Sherri Caulder perserved and made it through to the finish line of her first ultra marathon attempt.

On Saturday, the going was considerably slower. She paced her first lap in 1:45:50 — about 10:05 per mile — and hit Mile 21 averaging 10:28 per mile. Generally, distance runners don’t get faster, especially when it’s their first time at a new distance.

To top it off, she wasn’t feeling well.

“I’m not having fun anymore,” Caulder said before she started off on her final lap.

She seemed to consider dropping out — it was so easy to do, as others already had and the safety and comfort of her vehicle was within sight. But she maintained.

“I’m just gonna go run 10 miles,” Caulder said, breaking up that final lap into a separate event altogether.

Calder  averaged 11:04 per mile over the 31.5-mile course and placed 27th overall, and sixth among women.

“I can’t believe it,” said the newly minted ultra runner shortly after crossing the finish line.

Believe it, Sherri. You did it.

 “50 miles … I think that’s crazy”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Vincent Ma says he'll stick to 50Ks or shorter.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Vincent Ma says he’ll stick to 50Ks or shorter.

Vincent Ma, of San Jose, Calif., is no stranger to the ultra marathon distance. But the 45-year-old has his limits.

“I love 50Ks,” he said after crossing the finish line in ninth place on Saturday with a time of 4:43:46.6. “But not 50 miles. I think that’s crazy.”

Ma said he’s comfortable with the 50K distance as it’s only a few more miles than the 26.2 miles of a marathon. Plus, the shorter ultra distances, he said, allow him to recover quicker and to travel across the country to race frequently.

While many ultra runners focus on two or three goal races each year, Ma prefers to earn those frequent flier miles as quickly as possible. Ma said he predicts he’ll finish his 120th race of the year by the end of next month.

“Not bad … “

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Joey Anderson takes the first incline with ease early in the first loop.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Joey Anderson takes the first incline with ease early in the first loop.

Ultra runners are, if nothing else, self-loathing, if mostly in a comical way. Leave it to Joey Anderson to describe his performance in as concise a manner as possible.

Anderson, of Zebulon, finished 19th overall in 5:22:50.6.

“Not bad for an injured old fart,” said the 58-year-old.

Anderson is no stranger to Richmond County racing. He finished 16th overall in the Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50-miler in June.

“Why on earth … ?”

 After 31.5 miles, Tabitha Collins still wasn’t sure what to make of the effort or the idea of running such a distance.

“Why on earth would you want to do this,” she asked no one in particular after crossing the finish line in 36th place in 6 hours, 9 minutes and 0.5 seconds. It was her first attempt at running more than 26.2 miles, as race director Mark Long noted on her assigned bib No. 413.

Collins might not have been so keen on the ultra world right after finishing — and before devouring spaghetti made by volunteers at the Derby Community Building — but upon further review of her performance, she had a day to remember.

The 33-year-old Garner resident took her first lap in 1:51:15, then finished lap two in 2:14:45. She picked up the pace her third and final lap and finished it in 2:03:00.5. Her effort was good for eighth place among women.

Mr. 100

MacKenzie Spradlin  | PeeDeePost.com This section, shortly after the first aid station, is a runner's favorite and begins a nice stretch of flat and downhill to Cedar Lane.

MacKenzie Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
This section, shortly after the first aid station, is a runner’s favorite and begins a nice stretch of flat and downhill to Cedar Lane.

Don Smythe, meanwhile, doesn’t mind the longer distance. In fact, he thrives on it.

With the 65-year-old Raleigh runner’s finish at the Derby 50K on Saturday, Smythe marked his 100th finish of race equal to or greater than 26.2 miles.

Smythe ran with his son, Brad, 36, and finished 46th overall in 6:28:49.6. Brad was right behind him in 6:28:51.

Mr. 304

Retired engineer Bill Keane, though, sets the example for people like Smythe — and something to which he can aspire as he ages.

Keane, 70, of Winston-Salem, completed his 304th ultra marathon on Saturday. He finished three spots ahead of Don Smythe; 43rd overall in 6:26:30.5.

“What’s my time,” Keane asked as he stopped his wristwatch. He already knew the answer, but was told anyway.

“I suck,” he said.

Keane recognized that he’ll have good days and bad — he generally has more of the former — and that, for him, this year’s Derby was a day log some miles and complete another ultra. Besides, there’s a fair chance Keane already has his next race or two scheduled.

Staying on course

Penny Wagner had little expectation to win an award on Saturday. The 49-year-old is a realist. As she walks much of any given route, she isn’t likely to finish atop her age group anytime soon.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Penny Wagner, of Rocky Mount, Va., was last among 69 official finishers on Saturday. But she didn't drop, and she didn't stay in bed.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Penny Wagner, of Rocky Mount, Va., was last among 69 official finishers on Saturday. But she didn’t drop, and she didn’t stay in bed.

But runners of all ages and abilities gave the Rocky Mount, Va., resident her due credit when she crossed the finish line in 8 hours, 48 minutes and 6.8 seconds — last among 69 finishers, and more than 48 minutes behind the person in front of her.

As the last finisher, race director Mark Long awarded her the Derby 50K “Do or Die” award because, well, she chose to do.

“I tried to not win it,” Wagner said of the annual award, “but I’m gonna take it proudly.”

After receiving the bobbing horse trophy, Wagner had other things on her mind.

Someone, she explained her redirected focus, “had me some (banana) pudding saved.”

In for 12 … 

Heading in to Saturday morning, Tony Rouse had the distinction of being the only runner to complete all 11 Derby 50K events.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Tony Rouse was dressed for a formal occasion in completing his 12th Derby 50K. He is the only person to have finished each Derby 50K event.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Tony Rouse was dressed for a formal occasion in completing his 12th Derby 50K. He is the only person to have finished each Derby 50K event.

He made it an event dozen this time around. The 51-year-old West End man finished 32nd overall in 6:00:52.2 — his ninth-best of 12 finishes and fastest since 2010.

Race director Mark Long felt that effort, and others like it, deserves some sort of reward. He then said that anyone who completes 10 or more Derby 50K races is eligible to enter at no charge for the rest of that runner’s life, “as long as I am race director.”

Rouse by the numbers:
2014 — 6:00:52.2
2013 — 6:13:50
2012 — 6:10:41
2011 — 6:06:59
2010 — 5:58:18
2009 — 5:34:35
2008 — 5:35:49
2007 — 5:21:37
2006 — 5:36:45
2005 — 5:05:09
2004 — 5:15:47
2003 — 5:03:10

Operation Enduring Warrior

When Stacy Jery began running, it didn’t feel very good. But it did save her life.

A newly commissioned Army officer in 2011, she was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013. The journey, she wrote in a fundraising page and now runs for Operating Enduring Warrior, “changed everything.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Stacy Jer runs for more than just herself. She brings awareness to military service members returning home from war who have been wounded.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Stacy Jer runs for more than just herself. She brings awareness to military service members returning home from war who have been wounded.

The Christian, soldier and runner was spared from injury, or worse, when a mortar landed near a bench she had been sitting on only 10 minutes previously. The Derby 50K was her first ultra attempt. She proudly donned the Operating Enduring Warrior black and gold singlet and smiled throughout the adventure.

The 28-year-old Arlington, Va., resident finished 33rd overall in 6:02:03.3, good for seventh among women.

Operation Enduring Warrior is a veteran-operated nonprofit that aims to “honor, empower and motivate our wounded service members through a physical, mental and emotional rehabilitative cycle modeled for overcoming adversity and hardship through innovation, teamwork and perseverance.”

Jer made it easier on herself on Saturday with a positive attitude. She seemed to never stop smiling and was greeted at the finish line by her boyfriend, who doubled as her crew during the race.

 

Filed in: Ellerbe/Norman, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Rockingham, Sports

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