GREENVILLE — After weeks of rain and clouds, the sunshine finally made an appearance.
It was perfect timing as the 6th annual Yellow Jacket Challenge took place at Greenville High School on Sunday.
A total of 529 people participated including 359 runners, 120 walkers and 50 fun runners. The 359 runners were just shy of the record 387 runners in 2012.
“We were blessed with a much needed day of sunshine and blue skies,” race director Penny Dora said. “Everybody was excited to be outside and it showed in our great turnout.”
The Yellow Jacket Challenge is held annually to celebrate healthy lifestyles and raise money for wellness programs and initiatives through the Education Foundation of Greenville.
The course begins and ends at Greenville High School. In between, the course moves along the Flat River and through the city streets, with the finish being at Yellow Jacket Stadium in front of the grandstand.
“Our young runners are so excited to run this event. Many of them have been training in their running clubs all year long to accomplish this goal,” Dora said. “We are so proud of them and their running coaches who do a great job working with these young runners.”
Alex Myers of Scottville was the male overall winner with a time of 17:31.3. It was Myers second time running this event.
“I thought it was a pretty fun course. The breeze was something to fight with, but the course is well laid out,” Myers said. “There is a good amount of scenery and enough rolling that didn’t get tedious or anything. It was nice.”
The 17-year-old high school runner is the 14-under record holder. He captured that record three years ago with a time of 19:22.8.
Myers was hoping for a little faster time, but said the wind got to him at times.
“The wind ended up beating on me more than I expected,” Myers said. “My best was a 17:07 at regionals (high school) last year.”
Stanton’s Tasha Gregg won the overall female title with a time of 21:15.5. It was also her second time running this event.
“It was easier than I remember last year,” Gregg said. “This is my second time running this event. Today wasn’t as fast as my practice runs, but I still finished first.”
Gregg liked running along the river during the race. She was happy to see the water not on the course.
“I like the course and how it runs along the river,” Gregg said. “I ran the trail earlier this week and had to turn around at one point because of the water.”
Greenville’s Morgan Petersen was one of 102 runners under the age of 12 to participate. That age group constituted 28 percent of the participants on Sunder.
“It was pretty awesome,” Petersen said. “I did good. I’m pretty sure I beat my time from last year. I like the course, but it was a little breezy.”
Petersen finished with a time of 24:05.6.
Dora thanked all the volunteers for helping to make the Yellow Jacket Challenge a success.
“There are over 100 volunteers who make this event possible. They pay such great attention to the many details it takes to create this day and they do it with dedication year after year,” Dora said. “I am so grateful to have them all on our planning team.”
The Yellow Jacket Challenge takes place on the third Sunday of every April. Although, next year that day falls on Easter and will require a temporary date change.
“I am really looking forward to planning for next year. We have some exciting changes we are working on and I know our runners will be thrilled. I hope to announce those soon,” Dora said. “As far as next year’s date, I will need to do a bit of calendar planning as our usual third Sunday is Easter so obviously we will be looking at the other weekend options. I will share the date as soon as possible.”
Dora also thanked all the participants. Without them there would be no race.
“On behalf of the Education Foundation of Greenville, Greenville Public Schools and the Yellow Jacket Challenge, I want to thank every participant, runners and walker alike, for their tremendous support year after year,” she said. “They are truly the reason we have such success with the Yellow Jacket Challenge. My hats off to them for their support and commitment to the YJC.”
Dora also thanked the sponsors of the Yellow Jacket Challenge.
“We are grateful to almost 40 sponsors and community partners for their financial support and generosity,” she said. “They are wonderful to work with and provide a great partnership with the Yellow Jacket Challenge.”
Complete results can be found at www.playmakers.com/13results/13yellowjacket.htm.