The Flagstaff running community kicked off Fourth of July activities with the Flagstaff Fourth of July Downtown Mile bright and early Thursday morning with four festive races.
Flagstaff's Chamber of Commerce and Team Run Flagstaff put on the event's second year on the streets of downtown Flagstaff with the start and finish lines at Heritage Square.
The races are for runners of all skill levels, from Olympians, college students and high school standouts all the way to first-time runners. This year's 172 total racers competed in this year's "Patriotic Pride" events in four divisions: Masters -- for those 40 years old and older -- Citizens, Elite and the half-mile kids race for youth 12 years old and younger on the two-lap loop through downtown.
The first division to get things started was the men's Masters at its 7 a.m. start, followed by the women's Masters one minute later.
Flagstaff's Greg McMillan won the men's portion of the race with a time of 5 minutes and 6 seconds. He was followed by second-place finisher Gary Plank (5:18), also of Flagstaff, and Parks resident Daryl Onton (5:23) in third.
Flagstaff High School cross country head coach Trina Painter was the women's winner in 5:24. She was more than 1 1/2 minutes faster than second-place finisher Stephanie Del Giorgio and her time of 7:06. Missy Freshour (7:26) was third.
Painter said the race is just like having a track meet in downtown Flagstaff.
"The course is awesome. With the double loop you get more spectators out there and they see you twice and it's a lot of fun," Painter said. "You can zip across, and people can see you from both sides."
Flagstaff resident and Sinagua High School grad Brian Shrader led the men's Elite division by four seconds at the halfway mark, but he was overtaken in the last few hundred feet by Nick Hilton. Hilton finished in 4:21 while Shrader was one second behind in 4:22. John Yatsko and his 4:33 time was in third.
Although Shrader narrowly lost a first-place finish in a final neck-and-neck sprint, he said the event is all about getting together as a community to embrace Flagstaff's running culture.
"Having it on the Fourth of July, there's no better day," he said. "It's such a fun race and a fun course, and I get a lot of joy out of seeing the community come together."
Leah Rosenfeld won the women's Elite division with a time of 5:18 and was followed by Meaghan Nally (5:30) and Sara Wagner (5:42).
Other runners not from Flagstaff came to town from Tucson and the Valley, as well as out of state from Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, Texas, Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Vermont and North Carolina.
Painter said the race has grown in just one short year and added she can only see it getting bigger every year.
"They added a little bit more prize money for the elites, and it keeps getting better, and it will continue to grow as the word keeps getting out," she said.
Shrader added the race provides an opportunity for the community to see how exciting and fun running can be.
"It can be great for the entire city," Shrader said. "I hope they all (runners and fans) keep coming out and even if you're not a competitive runner, it's just fun to come out and run a mile with friends and family and have fun with it."
Erik Nelson was the top finisher in the men's Citizens race with a time of 5 minutes and 41 seconds. Ronald Schell (5:45) was second and Sean Quigley (5:51) took third. All three men are from Flagstaff. There were no changes in place after the three crossed the half-way mark.
In the women's Citizens race, Flagstaff High School's Tatiana Gillick was the winner with her time of 5:49, and she was followed by Valentina Nyhart (5:56) in second and Nicole Anderson (5:59) in third.
While Painter said the course was fast and mostly flat, Shrader said the difficulty of the course is what draws such great competition.
"It's definitely different and a little harder (than running on trails) because the course is really fast and the hills are still there and it's a hard course," Shrader said. "There's a lot of good competition; it's rare to come to a town for a local event for only the second year, and have such quality guys in the field.
Painter said she doesn't get to race very much in Flagstaff, so doing so on the Fourth of July is special to her.
"To come out here on the Fourth of July, downtown, knowing most of the people here, it's an amazing experience," she said. "This is a really unique race and I'm happy to be a part of it."
"Plus, runners and fans get an extra bonus: If you run the race, you get primo spots for the parade, so there's a side benefit right there," Painter said.
2013 Flagstaff Fourth of July Downtown Mile
1. Greg McMillan, 5:06; 2. Gary Plank, 5:18; 3. Daryl Onton, 5:23; 4. Chris Croyts, 5:29; 5. Andy White, 5:39; 6. Mark Martin, 5:39; 7. Rob Hall, 5:40; 8. Paul Brinkmann, 5:41; 9. Tobin Puslow, 5:47; 10. Todd Schultz, 5:52.
1. Trina Painter, 5:24; 2. Stephanie Del Giorgio, 7:06; 3. Missy Freshour, 7:26; 4. Karen London, 7:45; 5. Rebekah Nordstrom, 7:45; 6. Tracy Decker, 8:16; 7. Laura Bounds, 8:27; 8. Barbara Greeley, 8:32; 9. Heidi Staudenmaier, 8:34; 10. Lisa Pospishel, 8:36.
1. Erik Nelson, 5:41; 2. Ronald Schell, 5:45; 3. Sean Quigley, 5:51; 4. Ryan Gardinier, 5:52; 5. Darren Dundas, 5:59; 6. Kevin McKenna, 6:02; 7. Nicholas Hall, 6:04; 8. Eddie Roberts, 6:11; 8. Jin Kai Chng, 6:19; 10. Andrew Lecuyer, 6:22.
1. Tatiana Gillick, 5:49; 2. Valentina Nyhart, 5:56; 3. Nicole Anderson, 5:59; 4. Amy Albrecht, 6:00; 5. Jacque Povilaitis, 6:06; 6. Addie Devine, 6:08; 7. Rae Johnson, 6:08; 8. Paula Aerts, 6:24; 9. Sarah Sherry, 6:29; 10. Jessica Aerts, 6:34
1. Nick Hilton, 4:21; 2. Brian Shrader, 4:22; 3. John Yatsko, 4:33; 4. Julian De Rubira, 4:40; 5. Nick Arciniaga, 4:42; 6. Eric Bohn, 4:49; 7. Vince Sherry, 4:53; . 8 Kyle Nowak, 4:57; 9. Tony Zimmerman, 4:57; 10. Joey Spinelli, 5:02.
1. Leah Rosenfeld, 5:18; 2. Meaghan Nally, 5:30; 3. Sara Wagner, 5:42; 4. Tanaya Gallagher, 5:47; 5. Kimberly Allan, 6:21.