Festivities kicked off on Friday at the Kroc Center with the race EXPO and packet pick-up. Previously held at Fluor Field (home of the Greenville Drive and the finishing line for the races) the new venue helped provide runners an indoor haven and gave running affiliates such as the GTC and Pace Running Magazine spacious quarters to set up shop.
Temperatures hovered in the low 60s with overcast skies on Saturday morning at 7:30am when the horn went off for the first event of the day- the grueling 26.2-mile Marathon. The newly revamped course may have been “flatter” compared to past Spinx events, but this by no means translated into an “easier” endeavor.
A pair of 42-year olds took first in the male and female divisions. Michael Dwomoh of Raleigh, NC turned in a career performance with a 2 hours , 39 minutes, 10 second finish. Local standout and GTC member, Kristi Arledge, won her second consecutive Spinx Marathon in 3 hours, 4 minutes and 50 seconds, a full six minutes ahead of the second place female finisher.
In the Run Town USA Half Marathon, a group of runners from the Spartanburg Methodist College Cross Country Team dominated the 1,500-plus field. After sitting back for most of the race, Swedish native, Max Peter Bejmer, overtook teammate Austin Steagall in the final stages to claim the top spot in one hour, 15 minutes and 52 seconds (5:47 mile pace). Meg Chieffe, 24, ran away in the women’s division with a 1:27:19 effort (6:40 mile pace).
The event also featured a kids run for children under fourteen (“The Li’l Punkin Kids Run”). The one mile run is uniquely designed to encourage fitness among hundreds of local elementary and middle school students. On the line was a Li’l Punkin finishing medal and a Halloween treat bag.
The final race of the day was the Big Punkin 5K Race/Walk with 1,103 participants clocking in for the course. Spartanburg’s Adam Freudenthal, 23, blazed to victory in the challenging 5K course with a 15:35 showing. Audrey Honiotes, all of 13-years old from Hartwell, Georgia won it on the women’s side in 20:27.
Costumes have also become a mainstay with Spinx runners during the event’s history with its proximity to Halloween. This translated into some pretty snazzy race getups. Everything from Batman to the Star Wars ensemble could be spotted in downtown Greenville Saturday morning. One runner even went Abebe Bikila on the field (the famed Ethiopian gold medalist in the 1960 Olympics) and ran the race barefooted.
All three races began on Main Street just northwest of Fluor Field. The finish had runners enter the stadium and circle the outfield warning track before crossing the finish line directly behind home plate. The rambunctious reception by friends and supporters that accompanied the finish was no doubt a major factor in the Spinx Run Fest’s rising popularity.