Billy Mills 5K & 10K
Sault Ste Marie, Michigan
July 6, 2002
as reported by SCOTT CHURCH of the Sault Evening News

Aaron Litzner stepped things up this year at the Billy Mills Race. He ran in the 5K race a year ago, and moved up to the 10K for this year's race.

Good move.

Litzner led almost the entire way after taking an early lead.

"I think I led the whole way," he said of the race. "I started pulling ahead about a mile into it and just held onto the lead."

Litzner finished the race in 32:10.9, 20 seconds ahead of second place finisher Jerry Drennan.

"The conditions were pretty good," said Litzner, a 23 year-old St. Ignace native. "It wasn't too hot out yet, and I think I ran the second half of the race faster than I ran the first."

The 12th Annual Billy Mills race featured divisions for all age groups and offered different distances for runners to choose from.

The day started with the Youth and Tot Run, a youth one-mile run. For the boys, Nikolai Klebba won the 6-8 year old division, while Mikhail Klebba won the 9-10 year old division. Both Nikolai and Mikhail are Sault natives. Blaize Henning of Harbor Springs won the 11-12 year old division.

On the girl's side, Mary Anne Memefee won the 6-8 year old division, while Megan Klebba topped the 9-10 year old division. Aernelie Bingaman of Wellington, Fla. won the 11-12 year old division.

In the women's 5K run, Mary Miller was the overall winner, finishing the race in 20:18.7. Jordan Stewart won the 12-under division, while Amanda Tadgerson bested the field in the 13-15 division, both are Sault residents. Miller, also of the Sault, also won the 16-19 year old division, and Jill Everest of Kent City took the 30-39 year old division.

Mary Beth Skupian topped the competition in the 40-49 year old division, while Linda Shomin of Charlevoix was the fastest runner in the 50-59 year old group. Amanda Pieschke of Sault, Ont. won the 60 and over run.

In the men's 5K, Stephen Eles of Sault Ste. Marie won the overall race, touring the course in 15:40.4. He ran in the 20-29 year old group.

In the 12-under division, Henning, as in the mile run, finished first, while Curtis Heatherington of the Sault won the 13-15 age group. Brent Malaski of Rudyard won the 16-19 year old division, and finished second overall. Aaron Payment of the Sault was first in the 30-39 age division, while Terry Meyers, also of the Sault was first among 40-49 year olds. Tom Henderson of St. Clair Shores was first in the 50-59 year old division, and Pete Spieles was first in the 60 and over division.

In the 10K race, the field was sparse for the women, with just three women competing. Margaret Meincke of Sault, Ont. was first in the 40-49 division, while Janice Mckay of Charlevoix was first in the 50-59 year old division.

For the men's 10K run Tim Ciarkowski of Rogers City won the 16-19 year old division, while Mike Cudlip of Ft. Gratiot, Mich. won the 40-49 year old division. Jon Carlisle of Jackson won the 50-59 year old age group, and Eugene Keyandwy of Dearborn Heights winning the 60-and-over group.

Billy Mills, the person for whom the race is named, competed in the 5K walk and finished third behind winner Daniel Tadgerson of the Sault, and John Askwith, also of the Sault.

In the girl's walk, Sault native Becky Andary finished first.

Mills, 60, is best remembered for his performance in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in which he earned a stunning come-from-behind victory in the 10,000 meter run. He remains the only American to earn gold in that event.