Before the age of cell phones, we’d call him collect and tell him, ‘We’re in Las Vegas, or at so-and-so.’ We tried to find a new one every year for several years.”
The Roberts said they’ve ran in 36 states and Don estimates he’s competed in over 400 races. Yet, the annual road race to kick off Grand Haven’s Coast Guard Festival had eluded the couple until Saturday.
“This is our first time,” Carolyn said. “We’ve always wanted to come do this, but we could never make it work with our schedule.”
Don said Grand Haven was an important destination because he’s a Coast Guard veteran, having served in Hawaii from 1952 to 1955.
“I worked on an 83-footer,” he said. “I was a cook most of the time. I was a leader of the buoy tender.”
A buoy tender is a type of U.S. Coast Guard cutter that was designed to service navigational aides, or wherever U.S. Shipping interests require.
The couple gave the event two thumbs-up, even though Carolyn joked about the challenging course.
“It was soo hilly! Even our bridges down in Florida aren’t that steep,” she said with a laugh. “No, it was very nice. There were a couple stretches with a lot of shade, and there are a lot of nice people around.”
They both completed the 5K run, with Carolyn finishing in 46 minutes, 11 seconds; and Don crossing the finish line at the Tri-Cities YMCA in 51:42.
There were a total of 1,017 finishers in the 5K run, while 357 completed the 10K at the event, which was presented by North Ottawa Community Health System. A handful of runners completed both runs, but 2009 Grand Haven High School graduate Becca Addison used just the 10K as a good off-season trainer for her fall cross country season at the University of Michigan.
She overcame the late morning heat and a strong field to take home top honors among female competitors in the 6.2-mile race, finishing in 37 minutes, 1 second.
Addison, who will be a junior this fall at U-M, enjoyed strong seasons on the Wolverines’ womens’ cross country and track teams this past season. She was two-time All-American during the indoor track season.
This was the only road race she’s competed in during the summer.
“I took a week off following (NCAA outdoor track) nationals, and now I’m building myself back into shape,” she said. “I’m leaving for the start of camp for cross country on the 24th of August, so I’m using this to get ready.”
Addison, 20, beat out Spring Lake’s Jen Tiles, 30, by just over a minute. Other local finishers in the top 10 included Grand Haven residents Melissa Richardson (5th female finisher, 42:01); Elizabeth Gervais (6th, 42:01), and Ashley Rice (8th 43:08).
In the men’s 10K race, Hanover native Taylor Heath, 18, was the top overall finisher, with a chip time of 33:15 — over 40 seconds faster than runner-up Greg Madendorp, 18, of Whitehall.
Heath runs collegiately at Lake Superior State and said his finish on the Grand Haven course was his fastest 10K ever. Heath said he surged past Madendorp in the third mile and flourished on any steep climbs.
“In high school, one of our coaches got us these shirts that said ‘We love hills’ on the back of them. I guess we just told ourselves that until we believed it,” he said.
Earlier in the morning, Pinckney’s Mark Wehrman, 24, was the top finisher in the 5K race, clocking in at 16:15. He defeated Grand Rapids’ Russ Werra by 15 seconds.
The only local finisher in the top 10 was Spring Lake graduate Tyler Fedewa, who took ninth.
More than 10 minutes later, Grand Haven Township resident Darren Petterson crossed the finish line, and drew more than a few stares. Petterson completed the race dressed as Elvis Presley — complete with a white, shimmery leisure suit and fake sideburns.
Thankfully, he didn’t wear blue seude shoes.
“I just woke up this morning and felt like wearing it. Just to make things a little more fun,” he said.
He also completed in the 1-mile fun run in the get-up with his children.
“It’s a lot harder (to run in the costume) than it looks,” he said. “The hardest part is keeping (the sideburns) on.”
In the women’s 5K, Rockford 15-year-old Taylor Manett crossed the finish line in first with a time of 18:21. A pair of expected local standouts in the upcoming prep cross country season — Spring Lake’s Brittany Beeler and Grand Haven’s Claire Borchers — were fourth and eighth, respectively.