Amtrak has right-of-way
When train rumbles by, runners must deal with delay
BY BRETT DEGROFF
News Sports Reporter
University of Michigan graduate student Elizabeth Ben-lshai can attribute her victory in the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run’s 10K on Sunday to any of a number of things.
The training she did throughout college as a former cross country runner for the University of Toronto. Good nutrition. And maybe even Amtrak.
Shortly after Ben-lshai crossed a set of railroad tracks the gates came down, holding up some of the top women in the 10K The interruption is an occurrence that has happened throughout the race’s history with about the same regularity of the train that causes it.
“(Amtrak will) tell you there is a train that leaves at 8:18 a.m., but I don’t think it ever has,” said race director Lew Kidder. “Usually it leaves late and crosses behind the 10K field.
“If we changed the start time, it wouldn’t do any good, because you never know when the train will leave.”
The same type of electronic sensors set up at the race’s start and finish to time racers were set up before and after the tracks to account for such a delay. But Kidder said because the disruption was minor and the winners were not significantly affected, adjustments would not be made to the times. Not that Dexter’s Jennifer Johnson would need one.
“The gates had come down and a woman was saying stop, but I darted through,” Johnson said.
After running from five kilometers to 13.1 miles, many of the race finishers stopped only for a banana or bagel before heading back into the sun to stand in line.
Weary runners lined up to have their race T-shirts autographed by designer Jef Mallett, cartoonist and creator of the Frazz comic strip. The shirts depicted, among other things, a line winding from a registration desk to a portable restroom and back to the desk.
“I was hoping to run this race this year,” said Mallett, who competes in triathlons. “But I’m happy to be here signing T-shirts. That’s pretty cool, too.”
As racers crossed the finish line looking for family and friends, they were being watched carefully themselves.
“I check the eyes and check the legs,” said former Army medic and volunteer Jim Martinez. “Sometimes they’ll deny it if they are going down.”
Martinez clapped and cheered for most runners, but when one stumbled across the line, Martinez was there to guide the runner to the medical tent. When runners slouched suspiciously, he was there to guide them to a trash can.
“This is just such a great race, and the Ann Arbor Track Club is such a great organization,” Martinez said. “I love to do it.”
Brett DeGroff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (734) 994-6812.
University of Michigan graduate student Elizabeth Ben-lshai won the women's 10K in 41:58.
Ryan Desgrange: Men's 5K
Kirk Walrath: Men's 10K
Leigh Daniels: Women's half-marathon
Denisa Costescu: Women's 5K
Todd Snyder: Men's half-marathon
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To see full results of Sunday's Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, please visit the Web site www.mlive.com
PHOTOS: LEISA THOMPSON.THE ANN ARBOR NEWS