Thomas wins first Swiss Days title, Gillette nabs fifth
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).
â€œI felt like I was in control from the very first actually,â€ said Thomas. â€œIt was really comfortable and I was running exactly as fast as I wanted for today. It felt pretty good.
â€œ(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.â€
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.
â€œIt was something I really wanted to do, and part of the reason I came was because Gilletteâ€™s won it so many years,â€ said Thomas. â€œThe last time I ran (Swiss Days) I was 1:20 slower than I was today, and I was like tenth place or something. Iâ€™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.â€
Melissa Gillette, a native of Berne, won the womenâ€™s overall title for the fifth time in six years and is approaching her husbandâ€™s (Justin) career win total at the race.
Melissa Gillette finished in 18:39.36, topping Fort Wayneâ€™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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