By NATALIE CHALFIN, Special Contributor | Published May 6, 2004
More than 120 pairs of feet pounded the pavement in the 5K “Chastain Chase” on Saturday, April 24, sponsored by the archdiocesan Young Adult Ministry (YAM). Runners (and walkers) of all levels made their way around the 3.1-mile course around Chastain Memorial Park’s perimeter. The premier event marked YAM’s first attempt at coordinating a “Runner’s World”–endorsed race.
“The turnout was really amazing,” noted YAM program coordinator Ann Blasick. “It took about six months to plan, but everything went off without a hitch. We had a great team of volunteers. It was very successful.”
Awards were presented to top male and female finishers as well as top male and female runners in each category. Sixteen-year old Zach Lethbridge, a cross-country runner who attends Our Lady of Mercy High School, flew across the finish line in record time, solidifying his victory with ease. The sophomore clocked in at a mere 18 minutes and 17 seconds.
“There were more hills than I expected,” reported Lethbridge, “but I really enjoyed the course. We have our state meet coming up soon, so I wanted to log in some practice time.”
First-place female finisher Mary Thewes is a 14-year running veteran just getting back into competitive running. She decided to run the race to help support YAM and have fun along the way.
“YAM events are always so much fun and very organized,” the 28-year-old Atlanta runner said. “For me, this wasn’t a normal race. It wasn’t about competition, but about supporting YAM and running with friends.”
The YAM 5K offered something for long-time competitors and novices alike. New runner Lance Bradley, 39, of Atlanta, saw the race advertised on the Web eight weeks ago and made it his training goal.
“In the past eight months, I’ve lost 80 pounds,” enthused Bradley. “Today, I beat my treadmill time by 10 minutes! It normally takes me 55 minutes to go that distance, but today I made it in 45! My goal was simply to finish the race. I’ll probably frame my T-shirt!”
YAM raised nearly $1,000 to help fund future programs. And with the help of key sponsors like Big Peach Running Company (opening this May in Brookhaven), Mama Fu’s, Joe Cruz Photography, Reebok, Road ID, Publix, Einstein’s Bagels and Dunwoody Tea Shoppe, YAM’s first race set the pace for success.
“Everyone’s response was so positive,” said Blasick, “we plan to make the YAM 5K an annual event.”