On a day when the rain disappeared and the sun warmed runners and spectators, the Georgia Regents University Augusta Half Marathon and 10K saw another increase in participation, and another newcomer take home the win.
Stewart Helton, a GRU dental student, won the half marathon Sunday at 1:14.46, beating last year’s winning time by nearly a second.
The 25-year-old Helton won by nearly 3 minutes over runner-up William Rudisill, who came in at 1:17.23.
Helton, a native of Grayson, Ga., ran track and field and cross country at Columbus State. Helton sported his red CSU shirt in his first appearance and win in a half marathon. He ran a pace of 5:42 per mile.
“The course was hard as nails,” he said. “It’s a pretty course, but it’s really tough. I’ve never run a half marathon before, but I wanted to win.”
The first female finisher was a familiar face, as Bridget Lyons took that spot for the second year in a row. Lyons, a former Greenbrier and University of Georgia runner, finished third overall at 1:20.23
“It was a perfect day for running and a great crowd,” Lyons said. “I knew what to expect this time. I knew how long the hills were and exactly how hard. It’s good to do this at home.”
Robert Sinke took home the win in the 10K at 36:07, running a time of 5:50 per mile. Mike Ritz followed at 36:17.
The addition of the 10K this year brought extra intrigue and numbers. Augusta Sports Council CEO Brinsley Thigpen said there was a 29 percent increase in participation this year, with a total of 1,489 runners.
“It’s a perfect day for the race, and it’s so fun,” Thigpen said. “This event strengthens the quality of life in Augusta, as well as the economic well being. There are many benefits to this event, and it’s great for Augusta.”
Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver, who participated in the half marathon, echoed Thigpen’s sentiment.
“It’s a great event and a fun thing to do,” he said. “I get to spend time with people here, and it’s great to hear the visitors talk about the city in a great way.”
In addition to Sunday’s event, there was a Medals for Miles children’s run Saturday that had 159 registered participants. The children ran 12 miles on their own before finishing the final 1.1 miles as a group Saturday.