Orta grabs win in men's division
HUNTINGTON -- Spectators around the finish line for The Herald-Dispatch West Virginia 5K Championship didn't have to wait long from the 8 a.m. starting gun to see the overall winner.
Luis Orta, 24, who just finished his running career with the University of Kentucky, was back around to the finish line on the same street in 14 minutes and 56 seconds, setting a pace of 4:49 per mile. Second place finisher Matthew Brafford, 17, of Charleston, came in at 15:29.
Orta, like many runners who have talked about the 5K championship, was complimentary of the downtown Huntington course. The flat nature of the road race has allowed participants from all spectrums of competition to set a good pace that they can put on their record sheet since it's an officially sanctioned event.
A total of 674 runners and walkers posted finishing times.
"The course was great," Orta said. "I was a little lonely, though."
Orta's time was well off the record set last year by 40-year-old Kevin Castille, who posted a time of 14:32.
The 2013 winner said his pace was not his best.
"It was nothing great, or anything, but I was up in front so I didn't feel the need to push," he said.
As the first-place finisher in the men's division, Orta gets a cash prize of $300. Brafford receives $200 and third place finisher, Chuck Wentz, 24, of Huntington, receives $100.
"That's not bad," Orta said of the cash. "This is my first time here. We drive through West Virginia all the time, but we've never stopped here. Super nice. I like it."
One racer who had been around the course before was Noah Castro. The 10-year-old from Hurricane turned heads in 2012 at age 9 when he finished 52nd overall and first in his age group. He had the chance to become the fastest 10-year-old in America, officially, if he could finish the race under 17:50. Castro couldn't quite pull it off with a time of 18:13, though he improved his placement in the championship quite a bit from 2012, finishing 28th overall, and 27th in the men's division. He again handily won the 1-to-10 age group.
The race was also the last local appearance for Jacob Burcham, who recently graduated from Cabell Midland High School, where he shattered records in track and cross country, and helped the Knights to a few state championships while establishing a national reputation.
Burcham will run track and cross country for the Oklahoma Sooners beginning in the fall, and took it easy during Saturday's event, finishing 21st overall, 20th in the men's division, with a time of 17:45.
"It's more of a social event for me, I was just running with some friends," Burcham said. "I'm going to miss them, but I'll probably be back."