Ripley's Nathan McKee crossed the finish line in 18:14.6 Saturday, winning the 40th Charleston Distance Run's 5-kilometer race at University of Charleston Stadium.While McKee's performance was impressive, the second-place finisher sure stole a lot of his thunder.Nine-year-old Noah Castro of Hurricane emerged onto the track at UC Stadium behind McKee and held off third-place Marcus Taylor, picking up a runner-up finish and adding another feather in the cap of his brief yet decorated running career.Castro, who runs for the Capital City Striders, became AAU indoor national champion in the 1,500 and 800-meter races this year, and he sure made a loud impression on a cloudy morning in Charleston.
"That kid's tough," McKee said. "I mean, that's impressive. I hope he keeps it up."Castro might've won the race had McKee not decided to run a marathon in a couple of weeks in Erie, Pa. McKee had run the 15-mile race the previous two years, but decided to run the 5K to lessen his work load.McKee has run the 5K a handful of times, but Saturday was his first win. Despite the accomplishment, the 36-year-old didn't put much weight on the victory.
"The times are pretty slow today," McKee said. "I mean, it's better than coming in second, but it's not a big deal."Christina Rawson of Sissonville returned after taking a few years off and captured the women's title by almost two full minutes with a time of 20:47.9.The California-native said it just felt good to compete again."I used to run a lot but haven't ran this since 2003," Rawson said. "I had the record in this race for a long time years ago. [Coming back] is scary, I'm getting old. It feels good to win but it just feels good to be back again."
Both McKee and Rawson ran in college. Castro won't even be in college for another nine or 10 years.His older siblings have pushed him from an early age, including his sister Barkley, a junior cross country runner at Winfield. His brother Braxton is an 8th grader at Winfield Middle School and also runs competitively.Castro's father, James, said the family distance running dynasty might just be getting started."He's got a 4-year-old brother that's going to be right behind him and not miss a beat," James Castro said.
Needless to say, Dad was proud of his son's accomplishment."It's great to see and it's always great to know all his training and running he's been putting in this summer, he's actually reaping the benefits," James Castro said. "He runs every day with his sister and brother and they train year round."Maybe the biggest praise came from Rawson, a past champion of the event."I think it's awesome," Rawson said. "I'm 45 and I'm glad I finished, but to see a 9-year-old finish that fast? That's awesome."Jillian Clemens finished second in the women's race with a time of 22:26 while Lindsay Crossan, Tina Baile, and Bretta Hyre rounded out the top five.Philip Combs and Isaiah Mitchell finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the men's race.
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