TUPELO – Doug Price is back.
After about a five-year hiatus from competition, Price, 47, of Corinth, celebrated his recent return to 10K racing by winning the Gum Tree 10K’s wheelchair division.
Add that to his first-place finish at last weekend’s Corinth Coca-Cola Classic 10K gives Price a pretty good success rate as far as comebacks go.
A regular competitor in wheelchair races and bass-fishing tournaments across the South several years ago, Price said he had to take a break after a couple of accidents sidelined him.
“I guess you could say I had some mishaps,” he said, grinning, as he removed his gloves after crossing the Gun Tree finish line. “I had one accident while bass fishing, and then I got T-boned and some other things happened, so I had to drop out for a while.
“But now I’m back.”
Price likes the Gum Tree course, he said. “It’s not really hilly, but with the headwinds we were getting today, it felt like I was climbing uphill a couple times.”
Winning two 10Ks on consecutive weekends isn’t has difficult as it sounds, Price said.
“Recovery from competing is not that big a deal. If you’re in good shape, you should be able to recover in just a day or two and get back with your training,” he said.
Courtney Fortune, age 12, of Corinth, was the female wheelchair winner, adding to the title she won last weekend in her hometown. She won the 2010 and ’09 Gum Tree, also.
Family friendly 2K
– It was a family affair for many of the runners in the Gum Tree 2K this year.
“She asked me to do it with her,” said Brett Hildenbrand, 44, of Tupelo, pausing to catch his breath while nodding toward his grinning daughter, 11-year-old Andrea Hildenbrand. “I had to really work to keep up with her.”
The two first-time Gum Tree participants crossed the finish line and then watched and waited for Andrea’s mom, Andi Hildenbrand, who was running the 10K.
“I just thought this was something my dad and I should do,” said Andrea, who added that when she grew up, she wanted to be a runner like her mom.
That might have been Elijah Thorne’s thought, too, but nobody wanted to wake him up to ask him: The 8-month-old slept through the 2K snuggled up to his mom, 28-year-old Brandi Thorne, of Fulton.
Thorne, who said she ran the Gum Tree 2K in 2010 “just for fun,” kept Elijah warm and dry in a fabric infant carrier as she participated in this year’s run.
“He slept almost the whole way,” she said, as even post-race congratulations from friends didn’t wake him up.
The four members of the Kellum family, of Tupelo, came to the 2K with a mixture of experience.
Ken Kellum, 41, had competed in several Gum Tree 10Ks previously, and daughter Hannah, 10, is a swimmer and a member of her school’s running club. On the other hand, this was the first race of any kind for Caleb, 7, and mom Laura Kellum, 41.
“Uh, training?” Laura Kellum said, laughing, when somebody asked her how she had prepared for the run. “Nothing. Zero. I didn’t train at all. I maybe do some walking, but that’s about it.”
Fast start, solid finish
– Tupelo’s Darnell Collier, running in his first 10K, went out quickly – so quickly, he was ahead of the elite runners in the field for perhaps the first half mile. Race observers figured the 15-year-old Collier would not only fade but also fail to finish – but he pressed on.
Collier finished 89th overall, 13th in his age group, in 46:13.
Pushed to succeed
– Bryan Cooper of Tupelo pushed Scotty Jones to victory in the Chad Payne Memorial Wheel-Chair Race in 46:44.
Said third-place finisher Mark Bresee, who was pushing John Wesley Brooks: “You take for granted that you can get out there and run every day. He wanted to be out there so much, it just gave me strength.”
Saltillo’s David Neilsen pushed an empty wheelchair in memory of Monique Elliott, who died Tuesday.
– Fourth-place finisher Julius Kosgei was the winner at last weekend’s Coke 10K in Corinth. … The youngest finisher, at age 4, was Mary Gray of Tupelo in 1:22:24 (710th overall). Oldest finisher was Alvis Coker of Saltillo in 1:32:22 (752nd overall). … “Mick Lovin,” most likely an alias, was 303rd overall in 55:11. He was 300th last year in 55:00.
Contributing: John L. Pitts, Deste Lee
Cathy L. Wood/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal