Saturday’s 8 kilometer Run of the Valkyries, was supposed to be a recovery run for Jacob Parker after Thursday’s Mount Marathon, but he still crossed the finish line outside Square Dance Hall in Pioneer Park first with a time of 33:52 to cheering from spectators dressed in Viking outfits.
The 8 kilometer (4.97 miles) run is the fourth of eight races in the Usibelli Series. Parker finished second in the overall series standings in 2018.
“I just went out there to see how I felt,” Parker said. “I started feeling good and just reeled people in.”
Parker was the only runner of the 113 entrants to keep a sub seven-minute mile pace. He started at a seven-minute mile pace and finished with a 6:49 average.
“Consistency won today,” Parker said with a laugh. “About mile one or two I realized I was going a little bit quicker and I didn’t feel terrible, so I knew it was going to be a good race from there on out.”
Parker was in fourth place off the line, but by mile three he passed Trevor Chrzan to take the lead.
“He was starting to fade a little bit and I was finishing up strong,” Parker said.
Second-place finisher Chrzan was just shy of a seven-minute mile pace, averaging 7:02. Chrzan was quick off the start, but the fast pace caught up with him. When Parker passed him at the three-mile mark, he knew the rest of the race would be a struggle.
“I went out too fast and then I just tried to hold on,” Chrzan said.“I just put my head down and kept running.”
Finishing fifth overall and first in the women’s division with a time of 36:02 was Chris Carr. Unlike Chrzan, who struggled the second half of the race, reaching the halfway turnaround provided some mental relief for Carr.
“It was really hot and I hadn’t done this race before and I didn’t know where the turnaround was,” Carr said. “I was really glad when I saw some of the fast men coming back because I knew I was just about to the turnaround.”
“Coming back there was a bit of shade in the trees and I knew about how far it was to get back. That always helps me if I know about where I am in the race or how much is left,” she added.
Jim Wessel (35:25), Curtis Beck (35:58) and Wesley Hicks (36:36) were the next to cross the line for the men. Beth Zirbes (36:52), Amanda Montgomery (38:34), Emily Lindley (39:18) and Mishelle Nace (39:26) rounded out the top five for the women.
Both Parker and Carr will be participating in today’s Ester Dome Ass Kicker 6.75 mile trail run.
Carr is particularly excited for today’s event because she prefers the trail races to the road races and is hoping to finish with a good time. Parker, who is racing his third race in four days, is just hoping not to get injured.
The next race in the Usibelli Series is the 16.5 mile Gold Discovery Run on July 21.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.