FLATWOODS Eric Sparks’ first experience with the Super Quik 5K caught him off-guard.

The Cumberland (Tennessee) University sophomore ran alone to the finish line Saturday. Just not as fast as he would have liked.

Sparks clocked in at 18 minutes, 23.76 seconds in the 24th annual race on an overcast morning.

“Probably my slowest time the last couple of years,” said the former Boyd County High School runner. “It was a tough course, there after the turn.”

When Sparks drove up Diederich Boulevard a little earlier, he didn’t realize he was motoring over the race’s down-and-back layout.

“I didn’t know,” Sparks said. “At the finish, I wasn’t too winded, but my muscles were tight from going uphill that long.”

Last year, he won the Summer Motion 10K that included over-and-back jaunts across the Ohio River.

“The little hill on the bridge I think was easier,” Sparks said.

Wayne High School runner Zach Basenback kept pace with him for a while Saturday before Sparks pulled away to win by more than a minute.  

“I only get one 5K race a summer,” Sparks said of his college training schedule. “This is a good one.”

Russell High senior Jordan Riley won the female division in 22:47.35 and placed 15th overall among 151 finishers.

“I haven’t done this race in a couple of years,” Riley said. “Having the victory today, I’m really surprised. I haven’t run that time in a while ... since last cross country season.”

Riley’s performance bettered her time from an Ironton 5K last month by about a minute.

Said Riley: “Once I hit the hill coming back, people kept saying ‘You’re the first female.’ It was a kind of shocking moment for me. I haven’t felt that kind of adrenaline for a while.”

Having her mother in the race made Jordan’s first championship all the more special. Sabrina Riley was 37th in the women’s division.

“It felt awesome,” the daughter said. “I love running with my mom in general. We’ve done this multiple times.”

Riley plans to run in the Summer Motion race this Saturday, which is her birthday.

Ashland’s Ava Kazee won the 14-under division and finished second to Riley with a time of 23:12.57.       

Tony Coriell, chief financial officer for Super Quik, Inc. and wife Pam have been regular participants. They likely ran the race for the last time before their approaching retirements. Pam, now in her 29th year at King’s Daughters Medical Center, works in the mammography unit.

The Coriells will be moving to central Florida’s The Villages — billed as America’s premier active adult retirement community.

“We want to remain active,” Tony said. “We’re going to miss this and all the people, mostly the people. But the great thing about moving to Florida, everybody comes to visit.”

His thoughts quickly returned to the Super Quik 5K.

“Obviously, it’s a great community event famous for its goodie bag,” Coriell said. “It’s a great family event, The race raises money every year for our scholarship fund. It’s also been an event where people get back together, kind of a homecoming thing.”

Tony Coriell glanced around as runners received awards in a casual atmosphere. Meanwhile, participants of all ages reached into freezers for ice cream treats.

“The children love that,” he said. “I love that!”

Both Coriells finished eighth in their respective 60-64 categories.

“I think I’ve maintained my record of never winning a medal,” Tony said. “If I have, they haven’t given me one.”  

The Coriells’ daughter, Stacy Mills of Lexington, walked the course.

Super Quik 5K veterans Richard and Rose Balmer of Franklin Furnace, Ohio, received a special salute afterward. Richard, 87, has participated in the race every year while Rose, 79, missed just once.

“My wife and I ran in races 33 years. Now we mostly walk, said Richard, who received a new heart valve in February. “The Lord’s been real good to me.”

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