Sault Stryders
Running Club

Johns makes first chance count at Run the Great Lakes
Reported June 8, 2009 by Ben Leeson for The Sault Star
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Rhiannon Johns’ string of local awards didn’t end along with her high school career.

A former standout runner for the Sir James Dunn Eagles and nominee last year to be named the Sault’s female high school athlete of the year, Johns recently finished her first season with the University of Alabama at Birmingham cross-country team.

She returned to local action Sunday with her first appearance at the Run the Great Lakes half-marathon, finishing first among women in the 21,097.5-metre race.

Jennifer Entwistle, last year’s top female runner, was second. Janice McKay, another former winner, came third.

Misha Demidovic was fourth and Kristy Smithson fifth.

Between the half-marathon, 10-kilometre and five-kilometre events which make up Run the Great Lakes, some 210 competitors made their way along the waterfront course Sunday.

Johns, who turns 19 next week, was glad to have the extra company.

“Normally I do my long-distance runs on Sundays, so it was nice to do it with more people than usual,” said Johns, who competes in 10-kilometre and five-kilometre events for the Division-I UAB Blazers. “It was good to get back out.”

Though a first-time competitor, the mathematics major has volunteered at the Run the Great Lakes several times during its 11-year history.

“Normally before I’d be away at OFSAA track this weekend, so I’d just get back in time to volunteer here,” she said.

“For sure, I’ll do it again, as long as I’m back in town.”

Difficulties processing Sunday’s results made official times for the event unavailable Sunday afternoon.

Race director Doug Richardson said that times would likely be available Monday.

Despite such problems, Richardson was happy to see several late registrations for Sunday’s event.

Competitors and spectators who gathered near the finish line at the Waterfront Inn braved a cool breeze and a light drizzle.

But Johns didn’t mind the rain.

“It was great — great conditions, great weather,” Johns said.

In the women’s 10-kilometre race Sunday, Anya Mallinger was first, followed by Karen Brooks in second and Anjali Oberoi in third.

Kim Mihell was fourth and Lindsay Liddard fifth.

In five-kilometre action, Linda Walsh finished first, with Vanessa Chaimbrone second and Alysha Gjos third.

Cathy Wetzl was fourth and Serina Nicholson fifth.