Leah Thorvilson of Little Rock was the overall winner of the Pine Bluff CASA Half-Marathon presented by Jefferson Regional Medical Center on Saturday, setting a course record with a staggering time of 1 hour, 15 minutes and 27 seconds.
Thorvilson repeated as women’s champion and edged past the men’s overall winner Mark Ferguson (1:16:00) of Little Rock. Tyler Wilkerson (1:23:22) of White Hall finished third overall.
Thorvilson said she was thrilled with her finish despite the challenges it presented.
“I’m really happy with it,” Thorvilson said of her time. “I’m really a marathoner. The half (13.1 miles) is a distance I normally struggle with … and this was my second fastest half ever, so I’m really really happy.”
Thorvilson also wanted to make sure people know who she is representing while running for Arkansas.
“I am very proud to be a UALR Trojan,” said Thorvilson, a 2003 Arkansas-Little Rock graduate who is the director of athletic development at the school. “I’m really proud of being a UALR graduate.”
The third annual CASA Half-Marathon, which benefits the Pine Bluff CASA women’s shelter, began and ended in the parking lot of Golden Lion Stadium. The event was held to help raise the awareness of violence against women and children and help raise funds for the CASA women’s shelter.
Race director Joey Gieringer said the event overall was a success and he was very grateful for all of the participants who came out to support the race and the shelter. Gieringer said he was also thankful for all of the sponsors including JRMC, James Ace, Relyance Bank, Brookshires, Simmons First, Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel, Central Moloney, Bill Bridgforth, Genesis Center For Women, and Strong Manufacturing.
“I think the event turned out great,” Gieringer said. “We’ve grown in size each year. The first year we had 81 people registered. Our second year we had 215 people registered. I know this year we broke over 300.
“I’m hoping we earned somewhere around $14-15,000 for the shelter this year, which is about $6,000 more than we raised last year.”
Ferguson said he enjoyed his time in Pine Bluff and was happy with the way things went.
“It was good race,” Ferguson said. “It was a good day to run. The weather was nice, a little chilly starting off, but overall it was a good race.”
Along with the other participants, many local residents came out to support the race. Wilkerson, who beat his personal best by 10 minutes, was very happy with his results and praised Pine Bluff for allowing the event to take place.
“It went well,” Wilkerson said of the race. “It was great flat race in perfect conditions. I think it’s a great system they have going. The money goes to a good cause. It’s a great race, good camaraderie, and it’s all-around good fun.”
Another local resident, Thomas Johnson of White Hall, finished fifth overall (1:25:20). Johnson said he had been training a while for the race including running 15 miles at least one day a week. Johnson said he was thankful for the event and was happy with how the weather turned out.
“There was a lot of good support out there,” Johnson said. “It was little colder than last year, but it was kind of refreshing in a way.”
Along with the half-marathon, there was also a 5K race (3.1 miles). The overall winner of the 5K was Karl Clampit of Monticello, who finished at 27 minutes and 30 seconds. The second place finish went to John Bailey (27:59) and third place went to Phyllis Romero (31:17).
Gieringer said he was happy with all of the results and is looking forward to next year’s event.
“We really appreciate and give a big and huge thanks to our sponsors, our runners and all our volunteers,” Gieringer said. “We’ll be a part of the Arkansas Grand Prix Race Circuit next year and we’ll look to double the size in next year’s event.
“I look for us to have at least 500 participants.”