Coaxed out from under cover, Sherri Smith saw her shadow and ran Sunday.
On a bright, beautiful morning, the local long-distance runner won the Run the Great Lakes five-kilometre race her first race of the 2006 season.
After vowing to run in only a few obscure and far-off races this summer, Smith, a 30-year-old world-class triathlete and founder and race chair of the St. Joseph Island Triathlon, says she is rehabilitated after an Achilles and wrist injury cut last year short.
“Perfect,” she said of her feeling Sunday. “I couldn’t be more happy.”
In what was her first race of the season, Smith crossed the finish line in the Holiday Inn parking lot in a time of 17:51.00.
Lee-Anne Faganely finished second (20:26.00) and Marnie Smith placed third (20:29.00).
“They inspired me to run,” Smith said of a group of women she trains out of Catalyst Fitness. “They worked so hard that I thought I could not show up and just cheer."
Five of Smith’s trainees participated in the Run the Great Lakes two in the half marathon and three in the 10-km race. Another two runners under her tutelage ran races in Ottawa last weekend.
“Inspirationally, they provided it this year,” said Smith, the 2005 H.P. Broughton Trophy winner as Sault Ste. Marie’s Sportsperson of the Year. “Reg Peer, he’s my inspiration, too.”
Peer, who Smith trains for the Sault Athletics Club, finished the five-kilometre loop in 17:37.00, good for second place.
Ian Connell won the 5 km in a time of 17:15.00. And Colin Nickel finished third in 17:42.00.
“I looked back with about a kilometre to go and I had somewhat of a lead, so to prevent hurting myself I eased off just a bit,” said the multi-sport athlete from Sir James Dunn high school.
Connell, who partnered with Brett Davey to win the city’s doubles badminton title, is also a long-distance runner for the Eagles.
Connell finished second in both the 1,500-metres and 3,000 m at the city track championships last month. And at the Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association track championships, he placed third and fourth, respectively.
“It was a lot longer, and there’s no one watching you,” Connell said of road racing. “It’s a lot like cross country, it’s just you, the trails and your competitors. You have to pace yourself accordingly.”