By Bernice Torregrossa
Published February 18, 2007
GALVESTON - Hundreds of runners, walkers and Mardi Gras visitors flocked to Stewart Beach for the eighth annual Mardi Gras Beach Run. In the 5-kilometer race, newcomers to the race claimed the top spots, while Luis Armenteros successfully defended his 10k title.
The day's biggest surprise came in a small package as 12-year-old Virginia Ney crossed the 5k finish line in 20 minutes, 41 seconds to win the women's race. The Pearland resident, a member of the Pearland Junior High West track team, was running the Mardi Gras race for the first time.
"I had set a few goals for the race - to finish in under 21 minutes, to run at least a 6:50 pace, and to be the first girl to finish," she said. Ney achieved all three.
Among the male runners, Houstonian William Rogers and Ball High runner Frank Bohn fought for the 5K title until Rogers stepped up the pace in the final mile to win in 17:45. Bohn was second in 18:17, followed by Juan Flores in 19:19.
"The first mile and a half was good, but then turning into the wind got me," Bohn said. "I'd been keeping pace with the leader, but he cut through the wind like it was paper. I tried to draft, but I couldn't close the gap."
5K winner Rogers was competing in his first race in the area. He recently moved from Louisiana to Houston, where he is a technical representative for Adidas. "I'm not in my best shape, so I went out a little slow. I hung with a couple guys for the first half and then tried to pick it up."
In the masters divisions, Galvestonian Lindie Nanninga was first in 21:27. Felix Rippy's 19:14 was the winning masters time and the third-fastest finish overall.
Luis Armentaros cruised to his second consecutive Mardi Gras 10K victory, shaving 36 seconds off his previous winning time to finish in 32:54. Second place went to James Smart, who ran 35:17.
The women's field in the 10K produced a cluster of fast finishes, with Baytown teacher Lea Carretreas edging out Galvestonian Autumn Ray and masters winner Renee Hugger. Carretreas, a member of the On The Run running team, clocked a 38:59 to Ray's 39:12 and Hugger's 39:19.
Participants in the Mardi Gras run and walk were enthusiastic about the event.
"I came from San Antonio for the weekend, and it's been fun," Lisa Culton said. "My sister from Houston encouraged us to come, and so one of my sisters, her son, our niece and my husband are all running or walking. I think my niece may be more interested in the parades, though."
Race veterans noted improvements to the race.
"I like the new finish line closer to the Seawall," Galvestonian Vicki Blythe said. "You turn the corner, and boom! You're done."
The Mardi Gras Beach Run benefits the Galveston County YMCA and the UTMB Physical Therapy class of 2007.
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