Like Santa's reindeer

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Peaks Classic draws 400+

By Mike Forster

Saturday saw the first snow flurries in the city.

Not that any were about to hit Ricky Flynn.

The Lynchburg runner was too fast to be pelted by any precipitation.  

As a result, he nailed the 21st annual Bedford Area YMCA Peaks of Otter Classic run in record time.

Flynn smashed the old mark of 16:10, covering the 5K Bedford City Loop in a remarkable 15:44.

That Flynn was the Division 3 national cross country champion in 2009 might have played a role in his resounding win in Bedford.

The Damascus, MD, native and Lynchburg College MBA candidate was the first to the top of heartbreak hill (near Bedford Memorial).  From there, he pulled away.

“I just figured I’d keep up the effort,” said Flynn of his ever-expanding lead.

In fact, people at the Bedford Middle School finish line were stunned to see the police car escorting Flynn so soon.

After he crossed the line, there was a decent wait before the rest of the runners came dashing across.

Jordan Whitlock and Edward Dickenson were in a neck-and-neck struggle all along Longwood Avenue.

Whitlock finally edged ahead to nab second place, at 17:09, while Dickenson earned third.

Staunton River cross country standout Stuart Robertson nailed fourth place.

The turnout for the race was spectacular.  With over 400 runners, the field represented the largest ever, according to race director Josh Raines.

While there was a mix of serious runners, recreational joggers and walkers, all seemed united in their sentiment toward the event.

“We want to support the Y, the community and promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Jeanne Craig, who brought two teams with her from Holy Name of Mary Church.

The faster team, the Saints, took fourth place, while the slower team, the Angels, finished ninth, of the 13 corporate teams.

Craig stated that she planned to have three teams next year.  If Saints are faster than Angels, though, we’re not sure what that team will be called.

Riverside Runners may have had the glitz, with both Flynn and Whitlock running for them.

It was Conquerors for Christ, though, which had the depth.  

Five runners for CFC finished in the top 20, with John Pemberton (seventh place) setting the tone.

Those five conquerors all range in age from 14-15 years old.


Jim Cutler showed up to run, just as he has for every single Peaks Classic:  all 21 of ‘em.

“I’ll run in snow and rain,” said Cutler.  “I’m like the post office.”

Added Cutler, 72, “I’ll keep on doing this as long as I can.”

That he finished the race in 36:04 leads us to believe that he will, in fact, be running it for quite some time. 

A group from Timberlake Baptist Church showed off its Christmas spirit, donning fake reindeer antlers.

“Last year, we saw people dressed up and so we decided to be reindeer,” explained Tracy Ferrell.  “After all, it’s the Christmas Classic.”

Another group of ladies was seen in running attire and Santa hats.  “We love Bedford,” said group leader Sue Wood.  “We love running and love being with each other.”

No further explanations required, ma’am.

Raines led the assembled mass in a somewhat off-key Christmas carol before starting the race.

“They wanted to sing ‘Jingle Bells’,” explained Raines.  “They’re having fun.  That’s what it’s all about.”

And, after all, who is Raines to deny such a request from 400 athletes?

Truly, it was a day of fun and fellowship.  You can add “family” to that list.

“There are more families doing this together,” noted Mary Jo Boone, head of the Bedford Area YMCA.  “There are more kids running the 5K, too.”

An example of families running together is the Laughlins.  Brothers Tim and Dan were joined by Zane (Tim’s son) as a family running unit.

Zane, who runs cross country for Jefferson Forest, was somewhat better than his elders, yet all three seemed to enjoy the event.

“This is a good local festivity,” said Dan.  “And I’m here to support it.”

Dr. Jackie Kerr showed up to run his third consecutive Classic.

“I started running to get back into shape,” said the good doctor.  “It’s a good community event and a good way to support the Y.  We have such a good Y, with all it does for the people in town.”

Indeed, Raines and crew did their level best to ensure another smashing success.

The weather had something to do with that.  Clear and crisp, Old Man Winter delayed sending any serious precipitation down upon the runners.

Noted Tim Laughlin, “This is just beautiful.”