It was a day of both success and loss on the track for Goshen competitors at the 2014 Sunburst Races on Saturday, May 31.
For Justin Gillette of Goshen, who holds 75 marathon victories, his time of 2:37:10 wasn’t quite fast enough for a 76th win.
The Races, held by Beacon Health System, drew more than 8,000 participants to South Bend for a fun walk, a 5K and 10K run, and half and full marathons, the South Bend Tribute reported.
Gillette, 31, took second place in Sunburst’s 31st annual marathon. He finished just 1 minute and 18 seconds after winner Jason Parks, a medical student from Louisville who ran the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 25 minutes and 52 seconds.
Saturday’s race marked Gillette’s sixth time at Sunburst. He won the marathon in 2006, 2008 and 2012. Several injuries this spring and a rough winter for running affected his training and time, said Gillette, who has run an estimated 140 marathons since his first in high school.
“I lost by 70 seconds,” Gillette said. “It’s always a bummer to lose, but that’s part of being an athlete; you win some, you lose some.”
His time for Sunburst was six minutes faster than a marathon he ran earlier in May. Gillette hopes to be back to his normal speed in a month or two, and plans to complete 20 marathons this year.
Though Gillette didn’t win, the run provided something else he needed: space. As the father of two young children with his wife, Melissa, also a marathon runner, Gillette doesn’t have much free time.
“That’s the joy of running now,” said Gillette. “Just to have two and a half hours to yourself.”
Elsewhere in the crowds, 100 other competitors, all wearing bright yellow shirts, honored a more poignant loss. The group known as Isaac Nation walked and ran in memory of 7-year-old Isaac Steiner, a Goshen boy who lost his battle to brain cancer last March, reported the South Bend Tribune. The group raised almost $15,000 for Memorial Children’s Hospital.
“For us, it was a no-brainer. We still grieve the loss of Isaac, but we also know the importance of quality care,” Sarah Steiner, Isaac’s mother, told the Tribune. “We believe we can live in a world where kids aren’t dying.”
Since their beginning, the Sunburst Races have raised more than $400,000 for patients at Memorial Children’s Hospital, according to the races’ website.
See a full list of marathon rankings for men and women at WSBT.