VALPARAISO | Those who serve and protect the city of Valparaiso were among the participants in Saturday’s 20th annual Ringing In Spring.
Police chief Michael Brickner rang the bell to start the race, a job traditionally performed by race director Mike Jones. And the Valparaiso Fire Department was represented by six firemen who ran the 5K together and another who ran the 10K.
John Kroll led the 5K runners, who all finished in just over 30 minutes. He was joined by Joe Krowiarz, Chad Elwood, Adam Lara, Nicholas Kieta and Danny Dever. Morgan Hein ran the 10K in 58:22.5.
“We wanted to do something as a team,” Dever said.
The men sometimes run on the treadmills at the station, and found time outside of work to train together.
“On our off days we ran together,” Lara said. “We started together, stayed together and finished the race together.”
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: 10K winner Leo Frey said he surprised himself by crossing the finish line in first place. At age 47, he said he is still running times as good as – if not better – than when he turned 40.
“I’ve got a program and I just keep working it every year,” said Frey, who credits a cross-training routine of swimming, lifting weights and bike riding with staying in shape.
His win wasn’t a fluke. Frey placed third in his age group last weekend at the highly-competitive Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago.
THE IRONMEN: Jones, the race director, recognized three runners who have competed in all 20 Ringing in Spring events.
They are Bob Hooper, 72 of Crown Point; Diane DuMonte-Slater, 65, of Valparaiso; and Jim Johnson, 82, of Crown Point.
All three ran the 10K. Dumonte-Slater was second in her age division in 1:06:58.6. Johnson won the 80-and-over age division in 1:42.31.1, while Hooper finished in 1:45:27.1.
YOUNG AND OLD: Johnson wasn’t the oldest runner in the event. Tom Magill, 85, of Chesterton finished 792nd in the 5K in 43:35.5.
The youngest competitor of the day was 4 year-old Chase Perez of Valparaiso. He ran the 10K in 57:55, averaging 9:20 per mile.
SCHOOL DAYS: The top two women finishers in the 10K are affiliated with local educational institutions.
Winner Ali Bishel, 26, recently moved back to the area from Muncie. The 2006 Chesterton graduate ran for Ball State, and coached there after graduation until recently becoming the women’s cross country and track coach at Purdue North Central.
She’s busy recruiting athletes. So far, Bishel has seven women set to compete on PNC’s first team this fall.
Nagel, a seven-time winner of the 5K who had won the first two 10K titles, is a chemistry teacher at Valparaiso High School. Due to an excessive number of snow days, Saturday was an official makeup day but Nagel took off as a personal day.
“I felt guilty because I went through the high school traffic on my way here,” Nagel said. “I’ve run this every year since high school and I wanted to continue the tradition.”