Rippey Top Jingler at Jingle Bell

BY NEAL RIEMENSCHNEIDER

BOYCE, VA- Brad Rippey was the overall winner of the Jingle Bell 5K held at Blandy Experimental Farm & State Arboretum on December 21. The race is a certified loop course beginning and ending on unpaved roads on the farm with a rolling paved stretch in the middle.

Robbie Olsen, 19, led at the gun, but Rippey patiently let him go and bided his time before passing Olsen near the halfway mark. "He went out pretty hard and I knew it was way too fast a pace for me so I just settled into a nice rhythm," explained the 36-year-old Rippey. "Around the one-mile mark, I noticed he was coming back to me so I just tried to stay focused and continue to run at my own pace." Rippey took the win in 17:45 followed by Mark Vann (18:16), while early leader Olsen settled for third in 18:28.

The women's race saw 31-year-old Brenda Schrank take the lead at the gun and never looked back, finishing in 20:33. "I have been working a lot of hours so I am not real sharp and I just wanted a good workout," stated the 31-year-old Schrank. Finishing a distant second was last year's winner Susan Musante in 21:23.

Amazingly, the two old geezers who were the first male and female Masters were that delightful couple Ruth (21:48) and Neal Riemenschneider (21:48)! Okay, I can hear the guffaws now. One out of two isn't bad! Ruth bragged to everyone how she took almost three minutes off her time from last year. Of course, what she conveniently leaves out is that she ran it last year with one of our dogs. But hey, you didn't hear it from me!

There were 115 finishers at this event with ageless speedsters Bob Atkins (age 77) and Robie Cone (age 79) kicking up their heels. Additionally, 7-year-olds Bret Lewin and Simonas Zduoba crossed the finish line in respectable times. Race director Patrick Farris did his usual fine job and even his wife Krista, some six months pregnant, was noticed crossing the finish line, albeit a mite slower than her usual time.

Next year, I am going to get to the race site very early and confiscate the jingle bells that were given out to all participants. Many tied them to their shoes, which made for a real noisy ¼-mile walk to the start. Now that my daughters have moved out of the house, I really enjoy peace and quiet!