Courtesy : Little Rock Marathon media
On a perfect day for racing, 14-year-old Matt Bartels showed his elders—not to mention a bevy of super heroes including Wonder Woman, Captain America, Batman, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or two—how to conquer 3.1 miles when he won the Little Rock Marathon 5K Presented by the Arkansas National Guard in 17 minutes and 18 seconds.
“I started off with three other guys who looked to be my age, but they dropped off at about the mile and I was all alone after that,” said Bartels, who competes for Nouvel Catholic Central High School in Saginaw, MI.
Except for Jordan Hamric.
“The woman was on my tail,” said Bartels. “I had to kick in the end.”
Hamric, 24, who runs Oiselle, a women’s apparel company, crossed the finish line in 17:32 to win the women’s division and place second overall, just 14 seconds back.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Hamric, who is studying at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis. “I went through the first mile faster than I expected and felt pretty good, so I was able to maintain. I’m on Cloud 9 right now.”
Finishing second for the men was Tristen Driver, 15, of Batesville, AR (18:08), with Mac Westra, 17, of Portage, MI, third in 18:30. For the women, the runner-up was Angela Kasten, 27, of Davison, MI (20:40); Lindsey Petruk, 32, of Little Rock was third. There were 872 finishers.
Bartels will be back out on the course tomorrow, running the half marathon. His father, Pete, is running the marathon.
“We come for the medal,” he said.
The 5K had hundreds of other winners, including an 11-year-old named Jackson who ran as Superman alongside Allison Acott of Little Rock, a friend of mother in matching Superwoman gear. “We’re Super Friends,” she said.
Three years ago, the pair was headed for the race when Jackson was felled by a muscle spasm in his neck. Instead of the start line, he headed to the emergency room. So a few weeks later, about a dozen runners got together for the Jackson 5K, where the young man set a personal best and received an official Little Rock 5K medal.
Last year Jackson got to run the race, but was fighting a strep throat. This year, it was finally “all systems go.”
Asked how he felt, the young man beamed. “Perfect,” he said.
Briston Bradley, 25, was beaming at the finish line, too: Joined by guide Chris Baldwin, he had just finished his first race in 2 ½ years, since being blinded in a car crash. Bradley had played on his high school football team in his native Malvern, AR.
“I feel like my old self,” he said. “It feels good to be able to accomplish a dream that was taken away from me at one point in time.”
Running for the World Services for the Blind, where he is now a student, Bradley said, “I want to be an asset for the visually impaired.”