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LOUISVILLE – From group efforts involving families to raising money for charity in super hero costumes, there were plenty of Oldham County residents among the more than 12,000 runners in the Kentucky Derby Festival mini-marathon Saturday.
The biggest group was a crew of runners from the Centerfield Elementary School cross country program that included parents, members of the team and the coaching staff.
“Running the mini has really caught on in the last couple of years,” Centerfield coach Kevin Orrender said. “We had about 17 people run this year and it was pretty neat. In the past we have run more competitively, but this year it was more of a family thing where we ran together.”
Orrender said the parents and runners began training for the race back in December and most ran in the previous two races that make up the derby festival’s triple crown. It was Orrender’s 22nd time to run in the mini. His daugher Kami, who ran her first mini at age 8, and his wife Kari both ran this year.
Orrender has seen the youth movement at the mini grow.
“The first year Kami ran there were a handful of kids her age, today I think there was something just over a 100 or so,” he said. “You can see the kids are really taking to the getting fit and healthy aspect.”
He also expects an even larger group of Centerfield families to run next year.
“A lot of our parents have gotten into running for the first time by following their kids,” Orrender said. “I can promise you it’s going to grow around here. People are getting into it and finding out it’s a lot of fun to do together and a great way to stay healthy.”
The Caped Crusader
North Oldham Middle School assistant principal Jeff Griffin also led a smaller local group of five runners with a twist, they all ran in super hero costumes to raise money for the Friends of Michael Fund a charity group in memory of Michael Brent, a former standout athlete at Henry County High School who was paralyzed in a car accident before passing away two years ago.
Griffin ran in a Batman outfit and his wife Joni ran as Bat Girl, both replete with capes and masks although Joni quickly got rid of her mask. Also running were NOMS teachers Keely Green as Wonder Woman and Kendra Smith as The Hulk along with Taylor Forrest as the Green Lantern.
“It was pretty fun,” Griffin said. “It kind of takes your mind off the running part when you get into the race. The crowd really loved it and it brought some attention to the fund.”
Like the Centerfield group, Griffin said the super hero runners will likely grow next year as well.
“We’re hoping to do it every year,” he said. “We’ve already had some people ask us about joining in next year.”
There were also several local runners who finished in the top of their age group.
Leading the way was NOHS runner Colin Grandon who took first in the 15 and under division in his first mini with a time of 1:23.10.
In the men’s overall race, Paul Loheide of Crestwood was 23rd at 1:18.32 and right on his heels was NOHS cross country coach Drew Lamaster in 24th at 1:18.33.
In the 50-54 age division, SOHS cross country and track coach Stan Clark was second at 1:23.33. In the 60-64 division, La Grange’s Hugh DeWitt was second at 1:37.11
On the female side, SOHS’ Kacie Niemann won the 16-19 division at 1:30.28. Centerfield’s Kati Heil was fifth in the under-15 race at 1:52.41.
In the 50-54 division, Erin Harwell was third at 1:48.09.
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