GOOD GUY BOB ATKINS ON THE COURSE.
(NEAL RIEMENSCHNEIDER PHOTO)

Jingle All the Way

BY NEAL RIEMENSCHNEIDER

BOYCE, VA--Yeah I know, a corny title, but what else would you expect from a race called the Jingle Bell 5K? The Shenandoah Valley Runners held their annual Jingle Bell 5K run at the Blandy Experimental Farm on December 20, and a nice day for running meant a great turnout as 149 finishers were recorded at this festive event. Many of the participants were decked in Santa hats, bells, and the festive red-and-green ensembles.

Justin Fritzius and Chris Sheaffer, ignoring the festive outfits, bolted to the lead at the gun and ran together for the first half of the race. Fritzius began pulling away at that point and opened a lead he would continually add to as he sped through the last half of the race on his own. Hitting the tape in 16:26, the 24-year-old Fritzius finished a comfortable 29 seconds ahead of Shaeffer (16:57). Seamus O’Reilly (17:26) took the third spot while the top Masters was Bard Rippey who ran 18:55 good for seventh overall.

On the women’s side, local favorite Brenda Schrank had a few youngsters hanging with her for the first half-mile of the race but Schrank was just too much for them as she broke the 20-minute mark running 19:35 good for 12th overall. Sullivan Parkes finished second in 20:12 while Jill Atherton-Mellish (20:23) took third. The top female Masters was Tracey Black who finished the loop course with a time of 23:36.

Some other noteworthy performances were turned in by seven-year-old Camryn Ubert who ran 27:49 and 11-year-old Jahlil Northover who ran 23:10. Additionally, “Mr. Notre Dame” and all-around good guy Bob Atkins turned in a sterling 46:35 which is sterling when you consider he is 83 years old. Bob is one of the good guys of this world and it is always great to see him at area events.