By Rick Palsgrove
The Dr. Bender 5K Classic is a showcase for area runners.
The annual race, held at Canal Winchester High School on July 21, honors the memory of Dr. John Bender, who was the head coach of the Canal Winchester High School cross country team for 20 years.
More than 200 runners pre-registered for the race this year.
“That is a record number of pre-registered runners,” said Karla McKeon, race director.
The men’s first place finisher was Jacob Thompson with a time of 15:33. The women’s winner was Jessica Hoover with a time of 17:45.
Thompson, who is a member of the Otterbein University cross country and track teams, said, “I’m happy with my time for this time of the season. I’m in a good spot.”
Hoover, who is a member of the Columbus Running Club elite team, said, “This is a fun race to compete in.”
McKeon said this year’s course was a little different from past years.
“Previously, the course was run in a counter-clockwise loop around Canal Winchester,” said McKeon. “This year it went clockwise. We had the additional challenge of dealing with the construction around the high school. We worked closely with the school district and the construction company to ensure the course was not obstructed.”
Thompson said he liked the course.
“I grew up in Carroll, so I know the roads in the area,” said Thompson. “There is a small hill on the bike path that I took advantage of in this race. There’s a lot of strategy involved out there on the course.”
Hoover also liked the course.
“It’s a good course,” said Hoover. “I like the bike path portion. Later, when I see the high school,
I know I’m almost at the finish. I love running and I can’t imagine not doing it. It’s satisfying and fun and the people in the running community are amazing.”
Proceeds from the race benefit the Canal Winchester high school and middle school cross country programs.
“Cross country offers both physical and mental challenges and benefits for student athletes,” said McKeon. “Although every runner on the team may not be running on the varsity team, each runner can compete against other runners and themselves. Each cross country meet offers runners an opportunity to challenge and push themselves to achieve their goals and become a better runner. The lessons learned by pushing oneself can offer lifelong benefits.”
About Dr. John Bender
Dr. John Bender believed in Canal Winchester and in the youth of the community.
Bender, who passed away on Sept. 14, 2013, at age 71 after a battle with leukemia, was a member of Canal Winchester City Council for 17 years and also served as coach for the Canal Winchester High School boys track team and girls and boys cross country teams for more than 20 years where he earned several coach of the year awards.
His Canal Winchester cross country and girls track teams collected a total of 12 Mid-State League titles, 8 district titles, and 3 regional championships. The boys cross country team finished as state runner-up in 2006 and in 2007 finished third in the state.
A 1960 graduate of Canal Winchester High School who earned earn a doctorate degree from Ohio State University, Bender is also a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame
“Dr. Bender’s legacy can be seen in the continued growth of the cross country program,” said McKeon. “Coach Jeff Kline has been able to pick up where Dr. Bender left off and continues to impart Dr. Bender’s lessons to the team.”
Visit www.drbender5k.com information.