COVINGTON - Winning the 2008 Covington Police Fuzz Run became twice as nice for Marietta's Partricia Hayes as she won event for the second straight year while Orinthal Striggles of Columbia, S.C., won in his first try.
Participating against the largest field ever with 2,541 runners, Hayes won with a time of 18 minutes, 2 seconds while Striggles ran it in 15:51.
In the Grand Masters division (over 50), Art Robinson had the best time for the men running the race in 19:13 while Michelle Pitts took the women's top spot with a time of 23:19.
Coming in second overall for the men was John Barnett (15:58) with Connie Robertson (19:51) finishing second in the women's division.
Runner up in the Grand Master division were Dick Reauma (19:15) and Patty Krup (25:06)
While a runner always wants to improve their time, Striggles ran this year's race 21 seconds slower than last year's time of 17:41.
"I just wanted to beat all the women. I wanted to stay in bed but I was like you're going to run anyway so just go out there and do the best you can," Hayes said. "I always want to be a little better as far as time. But with long distance it's not really about time, it's more about strategy and location. You always want to do better than before but my goal was to win."
On the men's side, Striggles, a counselor in the South Carolina Department of Mental Health and a coach for Morehouse College, said the drive from Columbia was definitely worth the trip.
"When you have a love for something there's no distance or amount of time that you'd take to get to it, that was the case with me. I found out about this race and wanted to come," he said.
While this is the highlight for some runners, Striggles is using it to help train for the Baltimore marathon on Oct. 11.
Due to his training which consist of at least two hours on Sunday mornings and 30 minutes of all out running during the week, he was able to go all out for the entire 5K run while beating his usual time for the distance by more than a minute.
"Because it is a race from beginning to end over a distance of 5K I wanted to go all out and run as fast as I can," Striggles said. "This is typically over a minute faster but right now I would have to say that in the course of my marathon training it's very doable."
Even though Striggles has competed in a lot of races, he said that he plans on coming back to Covington.
"I've done hundreds of races like these before. Honestly, this is one of the most organized races I've ever been in. Between the awards, the timing of getting the awards done; I love the way the sound system make this very festive. It's a community-type atmosphere. I'm looking forward to coming back," he said.
Even though the main goal for the fuzz run is to raise funds for the Covington Police Department's charity, it is also a way to bring the police and the community together.
"We want people to be able to come and interact with the police department in a positive way. It gives us a chance to show that we're part of the community, too. It's turned into the largest participatory event in Newton County," Covington Police Department Lt. Ken Malcom said.
"We're very pleased with the event. When you put together something this large a thousand things can go wrong. But fortunately it didn't, it was pretty much flawless. Nobody got hurt and that's the fortunate thing. We raised a lot of money for our police charity and we had a very successful public relations event here in the backyard of the police department."
Winning their age group for the men were Jonathan Jenkins (8-under, 21:00), Jallah Galimah (9-11, 21:17), Josiah Jenkins (12-14, 17:41), Joshua Jenkins (15-19, 17:54), William Webb (20-24, 19:31), Craig Hargrove (25-29, 19:06), Alan Black (30-34, 16:31), Al Smith (35-39), Michael Strickland (40-44, 17:03) and Jerry Herrin (45-49, 19:10)
Winning for age division for the women were Megan Samples (8-under, 27:03), Brittany Samples (9-11, 21:30), Destiny Jenkins (12-14, 19:11), Marlene Escobar (15-19, 22:13), Rosey Glidewell (20-24, 22:18), Nicole Duncan (25-29, 22:40), Leisa McCool (30-34, 20:02), Jameti Santos-Diaz (35-39), Sheila Wright (40-44, 24:35) and Darlene Palmer (45-49, 23:09).
Winning the Grand Masters by age category were, men, Paul Bryant (50-54, 20:03), Gareth Stride (55-59, 19:26), Joe Carter (60-64, 20:57), Joe Waters (65-69, 25:26), Robert Anderson (70-74, 32:37) and Bill Hoffman (75-over); women, Patti Patterson (50-54, 26:00), Dorothy Cedars (55-59, 27:12), Christine Cardenat (60-64, 31:22) and Ann Murphy (65-69, 31:26).
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.