Greenville man sprints to St. Barnabas 5K win
Jed Christiansen couldn't quite hang with the leaders in the Liberty Mile road race Downtown. A day later, he learned all he needed was a little more distance, even if he still was in sprint mode.
Christiansen made his break in the first 50 meters of the 23rd annual St. Barnabas 5K on Saturday and never looked back, crossing the finish line in 14 minutes, 54 seconds — 39 seconds ahead of runner-up Evan Gomez.
“I ran the first mile a little fast,” said Christiansen, 27, of Greenville, Mercer County. “I didn't take my gears back, and I was still running a little fast to start the race.”
Christiansen, a former Division III cross-country All-American from Calvin College, started running the St. Barnabas 5K as a kid and returned in 2010 to win it in 14:51. Christiansen defended his title twice before losing to course record-holder Josh Simpson of Morgantown, W.Va., a year ago.
Simpson was unable to defend his title due to injury, giving Christiansen an opportunity to reclaim his title.
“I expected to be in contention, but you never know who is going to show up,” said Christiansen, who finished the Liberty Mile in 4 minutes, 15 seconds — about 13 seconds behind the winner. “There are some fast people in the area.”
One of the fastest runners on the out-and-back Meridian Road course was Aubrey Moskal, 24, of Morgantown. The former WVU cross-country runner and steeple-chaser overtook women's open division second-place finisher Elaina Balouris, 22, in Mile 2, setting the women's course record with a time of 16:26.
Moskal said she entered the race as a “fun tune-up” for a half-marathon — her favorite distance — in two weeks, adding that the majority of her recent training has not been for shorter, sprint-heavy races.
“I don't wear a Garmin or GPS watch, so I was just aware of what the splits were and I knew what I was doing,” said Moskal, who already has qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon with a second-place finish at the Marshall University-St. Mary's Marathon in November. “(My coach and I) just talked about running hard, and that was my hard today.”
In all, 898 runners registered for the St. Barnabas 5K, with proceeds going to the St. Barnabas Free Care Fund, which provides funding for local nursing home patients who are unable to afford their medical care.
“We're raising money for those that can't support themselves,” said Debbie Panei, executive director of St. Barnabas Charities. “We never turn anybody away, so that's what we're raising money for.”
Panei said she has been pleased to see the event's growth from an original field of just more than 200 in 1992.
“We're well supported by everyone who lives along the course,” Panei said. “It's wonderful to see that grow and the support for those patients continue to grow.”
Andrew Erickson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.