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Torchlight Run: Jon Murray wins men's title, Vanessa Hunter takes women's
Hunter, a former UW soccer player, used race as part of 20-mile training day
Special to The Seattle Times
Jon Murray, the overall men's winner in Saturday's Torchlight Run in downtown Seattle, picked up some fresh bulletin-board material to fire up the cross-country runners he coaches at 2A Lakewood High School near Smoky Point.
For Vanessa Hunter of Seattle, the overall women's winner, her victory in the eight-kilometer (4.97-mile) race was just the third segment of a four-part, 20-mile training day, part of her preparation for a marathon in October.
"This is nice," said Hunter, who also won the women's crown in last year's Torchlight Run, "but I've still got eight more miles to run tonight."
Murray and Hunter, both 33, were the top finishers in a field of runners and 5K walkers that Seafair organizers estimated at 6,500, up from 3,000 a year ago.
Murray, who last ran in a Torchlight Run 10 years ago, finished in 25 minutes, 16 seconds on a course that started and finished near Qwest Field, heading outbound (and uphill) on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and back on Fourth. Murray's time was 46 seconds off last year's winning men's pace.
Ben Mangrum, 30, of Tacoma placed second in 25:29. John Howell of Portland took third in 25:34. Destry Johnson of Puyallup (25:43) and Kevin Murphy of Seattle (26:04) rounded out the top five.
Hunter trimmed nine seconds off her 2008 winning time by crossing the finish line in 27:55. Lauren Matthews, 29, of Seattle finished second in 29:35.
They were followed by Kristi Houk of Port Orchard (30:05), Erin Skourtes of Portland (30:38) and Darcie Montgomery of North Vancouver, B.C. (31:07).
Murray, a Washington State grad who once competed in the U.S. cross-country championships after leaving college, was joined in the race by his co-coach at Lakewood, Jeff Sowards, and his wife, Sara.
Murray, a Marysville resident and science teacher at Arlington High School, shook hands with hundreds of fellow racers.
He says he pulled even with pacesetters at the race's midpoint. "The pace kind of dropped off and I went from there," he said.
• Murray, aiming for a top-five finish at the Pacific Northwest 10 Championships in Snoqualmie Aug. 22, says he's in the best shape of his life since his last Torchlight Run 10 years ago.
"But it's really not my conditioning that did it," he said. "It's more my confidence. That's what I hope to pass on to my athletes.
"Sometimes the door will be wide open for you. For something like this to happen, you have to be ready to take it."
• Hunter, a former midfielder on the Washington women's soccer team and now a project manager at Microsoft, ran three miles Saturday morning and seven more right before the Torchlight 8K. She averages 90 miles a week in training for her October marathon in Minneapolis, which includes two or three "hard" days. Saturday was one.
"Friends ask me, 'Vanessa, what are you doing?' " Hunter said with a laugh. "You have to find time to get in the miles, and today was one of those times."
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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