By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It’s not unusual to see walkers, and occasional runners, in Bluefield City Park on a spring weekend. On Sunday afternoon, though, there were approximately 63 of them in a bunch, taking part in the first Bluefield Young Life 5K Run/Walk.
The race was launched to benefit a relatively new Young Life group in the two Bluefields, directed by Justin Cason.
“We’re thrilled,” said Cason, hired as area director last August. “We were hoping for 50 (participants). To have 60, it’s great.”
He said Young Life is “a non-profit, non-denominational Christian outreach organization to (work with) high school and middle school students.”
The top finisher in the run, with a time of 20:46, was Graham High School student Forrest Yates, who was more than 2 minutes ahead of the second-place runner, Dewayne Belcher.
The fastest female runner was 13-year-old Laurel Romano, a student at Graham Middle School, clocking a time of 32:01.
Romano said she was surprised to be ahead of the rest of the girls. “I just thought, ‘I’ve got to keep doing this. We’re runing at a good pace. I’ve got to keep it up.’ ”
Yates left soon after the awards presentation and was not available for an interview.
It was a family affair for the Romanos. Laurel’s sister Layton, a sophomore at Graham High, was the first finisher in the 15-19 age group. Their parents, Debbie and Peter Romano, participated in the 5K walk.
Asked about her motivation to enter the race, Laurel Romano said, “I wanted to help and support Young Life. It’s a good program.”
Layton Romano, 16, said her response to the idea was, “Why not run it?”
She added, “The weather was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. We were just blessed to have this weather.”
One runner, Brad Schmitt, got in some extra legwork during the award ceremony. Cason read out the names of a couple of medal winners, and a person on the edge of the crowd reported that the medalists were already far across the park grounds.
Schmitt went into action, grabbing the medals and sprinting approximately 150 yards to catch up with them before they got to their vehicle.
When he returned, he said his extra running didn’t bother him. “It’s what I do,” he said.
Cason said he ran cross country in high school, “but I’m not an avid runner by any means.”
What was his impression of the runners on Sunday?
“They’re great,” he said. “They’re fun. It seems like they had a good time.”
Cason said the local Young Life Committee has had fall fundraising banquets for the last two years, but this was the first race they had undertaken. He gave credit to the 12 or so committee members who’ve been coordinating the group’s efforts.
“They pulled together and helped pull off the race,” he said. “We had many helping hands today.”
The race is “great for the community,” he said. “Sunday afternoon is a great time to go for a walk in the park.”
More information on the organization may be found online at bluefield. younglife. org.
— Contact Tom Bone at email@example.com
BLUEFIELD — Top finishers in the first Bluefield Young Life 5k Run, held Sunday afternoon at Bluefield City Park.
Overall — Forrest Yates 20:46; Dewayne Belcher 22:52; Mark Filer 23:08. Age 14 and under — Doug Weimer 26:01; Mason Menefee 29:48; Ben Owen 38:28. Age 15-19 — Yates; Filer; Scott Tyson 23:39. Age 20-29 — Cameron Cole 28:01; Todd Goodson 29:02; Donald Bellamy 29:07. Age 30-39 — Brandon Stables 41:07. Age 40-49 — Terry Owen 25:43; Henry Stogner 49:54; Paul Looney 55:00. Age 50-59 — Belcher; Rodney Jessee 25:00; Marvin Woodie 27:32. Age 60 and over — R.B. Anderson 32:22; Tracy Cochran 32:45; John Shott 1:02:00.
Overall — Laurel Romano 32:01; Sara Goodson 34:24; Layton Romano 39:19. Age 14 and under — Laurel Romano. Age 15-19 — Layton Romano; Larissa Blevins 46:50; Jordan Kinser 1:12:00. Age 20-29 — Sara Goodson 34:24; Peyton Cline 53:45. Age 40-49 — Sandy Tyson 39:20; Becky Blevins 46:53; Melena Johnson 53:35. Age 50-59 — Myra Yates 39:23; Beverly Pelts 51:45; Cathye Mahood 51:45. Age 60 and over — Katherine Shott 1:20:50.