VALPARAISO — At around 30 minutes before the official start of the 22nd annual Ringing in Spring on Saturday at the Valparaiso YMCA, the snow started falling as the temperature was a chilly 33 degrees.
More like “Ringing out Winter” than Ringing in Spring.
But the cold weather made the times a little faster as another large group of around 1,500 participants took on Mother Nature and a challenging course.
“Yeah, it was very slippery, but good for PRs (personal records),” said Sidney Noble, a Powhatan, Virginia, native who red-shirted for the Valparaiso University track and cross country teams last year as a freshman. “The first half was okay, but the second half of the race was tough. My coach wanted me to run this as a nice workout.”
Noble’s winning time in his first Ringing in Spring 5K was 16:59.5, about 35 seconds better than runner-up Zack Titus, who hopes he could be a college runner in the future, maybe even at his hometown university.
Titus is a junior at Washington Township who used his second Ringing in Spring as a tune-up for the upcoming track season.
“I’m happy with second,” said Titus, who will be running the 1,600 and 3,200 for the Senators. “It was this cold with some snow at cross country regional (last fall). You just have to wear a lot of clothes.”
Well, not everyone follows that premise.
“I like shorts; it helps keep my legs free,” said Sally Cespedes, of Valparaiso, who finished ninth in the women’s division of the 5K and first in the 35-39 age group.
Co-owner of the company in charge of the chip results, THtiming, Heather Henderlong, looked more like she was running a skiing event with her winter coat and face partially hidden by a furry hood.
“This is my cold weather race coat,” she said. “No, I don’t like this weather, but it’s still fun.”
The 10K men’s winner was also from outside the region. Michael Ridenour, of Fort Wayne, has run the Ringing in Spring 5K before while visiting his wife’s family from Valparaiso, but this time he did the 10K and won with a time of 35:20.3.
“It’s Indiana, so you get used to this kind of weather and expect it,” said the 31-year-old who finished first in the annual event for the first time. “This is a good tune-up for a marathon.”
Speaking of marathons, 10K Masters winner, Jeff Mescal, of Hebron, last ran the Ringing in Spring two years ago, while the last time he ran the Boston Marathon was 2013. He will be headed to Boston again later this month where the weather should be much warmer.
“I remember running this when it was in downtown Valpo with three inches of snow on the ground,” said Mescal, who posted a time of 36:58.6. “This is a good warm-up for Boston. It was tough when the wind was in your face going up the hills.”
Taking the 5K female title was Crystal Reichert, of Fort Wayne, with 19:36.7, while Chrys Davis, of Valparaiso, won her second consecutive 10K crown with a time of 41:24.7.
“This was definitely the coldest Ringing in Spring I’ve done,” said Davis, who did improve her time in the cold conditions as she prepares for the Bay Shore Marathon in Traverse City, Mich, in May. “The wind was a challenge coming back. It’s always a thrill to compete against everyone.”