VALPARAISO | Two weeks ago, Chesterton junior Mitch Wilborn suffered a devastating blow after running at the New Prairie Semistate for the Trojans' cross country team.
His squad failed to advance as a team, but Wilborn had a chance to reach the state meet as one of the top 10 individuals. However, he was the dreaded 11th man, missing the last qualifying spot by just three-tenths of a second.
"I've been running every day since then," Wilborn said. "I thought I made it out, but then I realized other teams weren't making it and there were a lot of individuals. I didn't even know the kid who sprinted past me in the end."
With running, there's always another race somewhere. So Wilborn decided to compete in Sunday's Valpo Half Marathon.
He had never run more than five miles in a race, but Wilborn withstood windy conditions to place second overall in 1 hour, 17 minutes, 5.2 seconds for the 13.1-mile adventure near the Porter County Airport and through country roads in Washington Township.
Wilborn ran the first four miles with eventual winner Justin Baum, but couldn't hang with the 28-year-old former college runner.
"I just fell off and I was pretty much alone," Wilborn said. "Once we hit about the nine-mile mark he was gone."
Baum coaches boys and girls cross country at Sandy Valley High School in Magnolia, Ohio. His parents live in Porter so he made the trip to compete.
Baum's time was 1:14:30, ironically the same time run by last year's winner, Artur Bareikis of Crestwood, Ill.
"I've been trying to stay competitive," said Baum, who ran for Malone College in Canton, Ohio. "I try to get in 70 or 80 miles per week, but it's hard to do it during the school year with the kids."
Baum said he has about a half dozen victories in half marathons, including the Sunburst in South Bend in 2008. He also won the full marathon at Sunburst in 2009 and has a marathon personal-best of 2:34.
"This was definitely a fast course but the wind slowed it down a little bit," Baum said. "I was running in a big group of guys going out, but coming back by the airport (the wind) made it kind of difficult."
The women's overall winner was Lisa Altman, 39, of St. Joseph, Mich., in 1:29:59.3. She was 14th overall and was pleased that she hit her goal time of 1:30.
"I was by myself pretty much the whole way," Altman said.
Altman said she just started running about seven years ago, but in that time she has averaged about five marathons per year. She has run the Boston Marathon three times, including this year when she finished in 3:20.
"I started running after my daughter was born and I'm trying to be an inspiration to her," Altman said. "I ran a race in Chesterton two weeks ago, and I was just looking for another fun race. Coming here isn't a very long driving distance from St. Joe."
There were 468 total finishers in the race which benefited the United Way of Porter County.