Thomas wins first Swiss Days title, Gillette nabs fifth

Authored by Clint Anderson on Aug 1, 2011
Thomas wins first Swiss Days title, Gillette nabs fifthIan Thomas

For Pennville native Ian Thomas the third time actually was a charm.
Thomas, running in his third First Bank of Berne Swiss Days 5K Race, threw a steady pace at defending and six-time race champion Justin Gillette Saturday in humid conditions and took control after one mile.
The two hit the one-mile mark together in 4:52, and Thomas was able to stay at about that pace the rest of the way, finishing in 15:26.03 (4:58 mile pace), while Gillette came in at 16:00.15 (about 5 seconds faster than his winning time in 2010).
“I felt like I was in control from the very first actually,” said Thomas. “It was really comfortable and I was running exactly as fast as I wanted for today. It felt pretty good.
“(Gillette) stuck with me for about a mile and then I started to pull away. I stayed consistent, comfortable, held pace and just pulled away.”
Gillette finished second overall, marking the second time in his last three tries that he took runner-up honors. He won five straight Swiss Days Race titles from 2004-2008.
“It was something I really wanted to do, and part of the reason I came was because Gillette’s won it so many years,” said Thomas. “The last time I ran (Swiss Days) I was 1:20 slower than I was today, and I was like tenth place or something. I’ve gotten significantly faster since 2007 (last time at Swiss Days), and I thought it would be cool - it is like the biggest local race - and I wanted to see if I could win it.”
Melissa Gillette, a native of Berne, won the women’s overall title for the fifth time in six years and is approaching her husband’s (Justin) career win total at the race.
Melissa Gillette finished in 18:39.36, topping Fort Wayne’s Coral Whaley by more than 46 seconds.
Tristan Anderson of rural Bluffton won the one-mile race in 6:27.07.
Eliza Harruff of Berne was the top female finisher in the one-mile race and the second finisher overall in 6:47.23.
There were 450 total runners participating in the Swiss Days races - 66 in the mile race and 384 in the 5K.
One-mile age group winners were:
Samantha Liechty of Chardon, OH girls 8 and under, Harruff girls 9 to 11, Brandon Sprunger of Fort Wayne in boys 8 and under, and Anderson boys 9 to 11.
Age group winners in the 5K were:
Olivia Von Gunten, Berne, 14 and under female; Whaley 15 to 18 female; Gillette 19 to 29 female; Tami Henry, Berne, 30 to 39 female; Maureen Liechty, Chardon, OH, 40 to 49 female; Denise Conrad, Decatur, 50 to 59 female; Delores Johns, Bluffton, 60 and over female.
Adam Garner, Decatur, 14 and under male; Alex Cushman, Ossian, 15 to 18 male; Thomas 19 to 29 male; Jake Krider, North Olmstead, OH 130 to 39 male; Greg Krider, Fort Wayne, 40 to 49 male; Jerry Williams Jr., Fort Wayne, 50 to 59 male; Jerry Pierce, Selma, 60 and over male.



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