Participants take 5K in stride

FIT Challenge event brings out the best in runners, walkers
Brandi Barhite
May 26, 2014
More than 90 people participated in the FIT Challenge 5K Run/Walk on Sunday morning — and every single person crossed the finish line differently.

Click HERE for more photos

Jonathan Smith glided to a stop at 20:46 seconds, securing himself the overall top male spot. Laura Cobb flew in at 21:13 and earned herself the female award. They made it seem so effortless.

Marva Johnson came in with a steady stride and won first place in the 60 and older division. She didn’t even look sweaty, despite the temperature inching up to 80 by late morning.

Jacob Guerra pushed through his finish and received an award in his 11-14 age group. His mother, Annette Guerra, is a former FIT Challenge contestant.

“This is my second year doing it, and it is truly amazing. This is something my whole family can do and be proud of,” Guerra posted on Facebook after the race.

FIT Challenger Edie Walton came in with a look of anguish at about 41 minutes. She was the first of the five FIT Challenge contestants to finish the race with fellow contestant Tim Rotsinger close behind.

“It was terrible! Oh my gosh!” she said, as she recouped.

This was Walton’s first 5K. It wasn’t really terrible. It just felt like that until she saw her children admiring her plaque.

Walton’s trainer, Hannah Riley, said she had a “runner’s high” for her client.

“I’m a very happy trainer right now” she said.

Before the race, Walton said she was nervous about messing up, but she started her day off with protein.

“I had a boiled egg because that will hold me over until lunch. If I would have eaten cereal, I would have been hungry an hour later”

Walton has learned a lot about nutrition and exercise since joining the FIT Challenge in mid-January. She and four other contestants are provided free personal trainers and gym memberships as the Register documents their journey.

Trina Crosland was one of the last to finish the race, but ran the final leg as a crowd gathered to cheer her on. She gave the thumbs-up as her friend Krista McNichol said, “She did a great job. She ran most of it”

Crosland embraced Walton and fellow FIT Challenger Jen Gardin after crossing the finish line. When Gardin finished the race shortly before Crosland, she collapsed onto the sidewalk.

“I was very nervous last night, but I was like, ‘Screw it, whatever happens, happens. I have to finish, just don’t trip on my face. It should be good’” Gardin said.

And it was good.

In addition to running or walking the 3.1 miles, the FIT Challengers participated in an activity hosted by each gym involved in the FIT Challenge.

Trevor Tieche of Bodi N Balance surprised the contestants by having them eat peanut butter crackers and play on a Slip ’N Slide. Ryan Rose of Health & Strength set up a punching bag and fitness ropes. Shawn Zahel of NOMS had contestants carry the amount of weight they had lost. Ken Cutcher of Anytime Fitness and Riley of the Rec had the contestants do some variation of burpees, squats and push ups.

Rose said he really had to work with Crosland to get her to run in public for the first time Sunday.

“It really is all mental with her because she knows she can do this stuff, but she never has done it before,” Rose said. “We have gotten there, and we have gotten great results from where we have come from”

Jaime Endsley of Norwalk came to the run the course and support Crosland. They went to high school together in New Concord, Ohio, but didn’t know they lived so close to each other until Endsley read about Crosland losing 65 pounds.

“I think that it is awesome and a great opportunity,” Endsley said.

This the third bi-annual FIT Challenge 5K, which is open to both experienced runners and those who want to try a 5K for the first time. Jason Dulaney likes the scenic downtown route.

“It really isn’t often that you get to run in the streets, and the way the Sandusky area has been revitalized, it is neat to see the storefronts and the waterfront” he said.

FIT Challenger Scott Webb finished the race in second place in the 20-29 age group, despite the pain in his knee. He is scheduled for knee surgery June 12.

“After surgery is done, I see myself running more” he said.

Webb, like many of the 5K participants, took to social media after the race to celebrate.

“Had a lot of people coming up to me at the race and saying, ‘nice job and I am looking great’ and I don’t even know them. That made me feel good”