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5K run/walk showcases Tosanak in spring bloom

Press photos by John Burbridge Alex Almelien, 10, of Greene runs along the banks of the Cedar River before heading uphill for the homestretch of the Tosanak Open House 5K run/walk.
Press photos by John Burbridge
Alex Almelien, 10, of Greene runs along the banks of the Cedar River before heading uphill for the homestretch of the Tosanak Open House 5K run/walk.
By John Burbridge sports@charlescitypress.com

MARBLE ROCK — They’re called “race bandits.”

These are runners who don’t register for a race, don’t wear race bibs, don’t have timing chips on their persons … but run anyway with the aplomb of wedding crashers.

The running community generally looks down on “banditing” as it circumvents fund-raising efforts, addles organizers, and delegitimizes official winners and placers whenever these bandits so happen to cross — or crash — the finish line first.

While participating in the Tosanak Recreation Area Open House 5K on Saturday, Alex Almelien saw four bandit runners during his trek through the park’s deep-wooded trails.

Ezra Almelien, 7, of Greene tries to close the gap on older brother Owen, who just raced down this path several seconds before on way to becoming the first pre-teen runner to cross the finish line.
Ezra Almelien, 7, of Greene tries to close the gap on older brother Owen, who just raced down this path several seconds before on way to becoming the first pre-teen runner to cross the finish line.

Not only were these runners unregistered, but they had an unfair advantage — possession of more than two legs.

“I saw four deer when I was out there running,” the Greene 10-year-old said. “They came out running out of nowhere … it was kind of cool.

“I saw lots of nature out there.”

Alex was part of a trio of brothers including Ezra, 7, and 11-year-old Owen, who was the first pre-teen runner to cross the finish line not too far behind the Top 3 overall placers.

The race kicked off Tosanak’s annual open house.

“It’s a good way to bring people out here and give them a chance to see parts of the park they might not normally see,” Floyd County Conservation naturalist Heidi Reams said. “And this is a great time to experience this park. The spring wildflowers are in bloom and you can see them throughout the course.”

Aesthetically, the whole park is in bloom as it resembles a series of Claude Monet paintings but in sharper and brighter focus.

Sightseeing aside, some of the participants came with a competitive edge. Andy Roth was one of them.

“Usually during the spring, I try to run a race where ever I can find one,” said Roth, who paced the 27-runner field with an unofficial 5K time of 21 minutes, 48 seconds. “I usually do this one to show support for this park and the community.”

Roth is the cross country coach for Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock High School. Several of his current and former athletes participated in the race.

“It took me a while to pass Justin (Reams),” Roth said of the former Warrior runner, who placed third overall. “I knew Sheridan (LaCoste) was right behind me near the end, so I was a little worried about her.”

And with good reason. During the past Class 1A girls state cross country meet, LaCoste turned it on along the homestretch to move into second place and gave strong chase to AcGc’s Kate Crawford, who like Roth, managed to hold LaCoste off.

“I guess when my runners start beating me, I should be proud,” Roth said.

Charles City 3-year-old Laker Kubik finished a stroller ahead of father Tyler Kubik.

Granted, the elder Kubik is not the first runner to complete a race while pushing a stroller.

“But when I usually do this, it’s on a flat, paved course,” Kubik said. “This was a lot tougher than I thought, especially going up that hill at the end.”

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