Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local Sports

July 2, 2014

Super Quik 5K: Cherry picks orange

Race winner dons new color in honor of father

July 2, 2014 — Blue is most always the color of choice for University of Kentucky grad and former East Carter High School athlete Bradley Cherry.

Not Saturday, however, when the 32-year-old lined up for the 19th annual Super Quik 5K in Flatwoods.

Wearing an orange shirt in honor of his father, Jim, who passed away last September, Cherry won his second Super Quik 5 title in three years.

“About five years ago, my dad got me started in a race in Grayson,” said Cherry, who debuted with a victory in the Carter County Fight Against Drugs 5K. “It started from there.”

Jim Cherry, Bradley said, liked to root for the University of Tennessee and was known as “Mr. Orange” around Grayson.

“I think part of it was that he just wanted to tick people off,” Bradley said with a smile.

For Cherry, a former four-year varsity baseball and basketball player at East Carter, road racing has filled a competitive void.

“I do like competing again, especially after playing sports all those years,” he said. “Running in these races, it pushes you. The other thing I like is you meet a lot of people from different backgrounds. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or if you are a great athlete. It’s all about going out and doing your best.”

Cherry trains about 30 hours per week. He works in purchasing, finance and accounting for Grayson Rural Electric and also works as an East Carter basketball assistant.

“With all that, this is probably only my third race of the year,” he said.

In 2012, Cherry pulled away from Aaron Stevens to win his first Super Quik 5K championship in 17:21. Stevens, now running for Western Kentucky University, dipped below 17 minutes at last year’s race to finish ahead of Cherry for first place.

This time, nobody was around to challenge Cherry late as he cruised home in 17:44 for a 43-second victory over runner-up Cory Howard, 26.

“You never know what to expect,” Cherry said of the competition. “You mainly run against yourself, then whatever happens.”

Unknown to Cherry, a car accidentally got onto the course and slowly trailed him late in the race.

“I didn’t see it,” he said. “If I was a little faster, I could have said it was pushing me a little bit.”

The Super Quik 5K, known for providing participants with plenty of treats in a family atmosphere, continues to get high marks from Cherry.

“It’s probably one of the most organized races out there,” he said. “There’s always a good crowd, and they treat you first class. The gifts you receive are probably the best around.”

The top five overall runners also included Dale Curtis, 18, Tyler Andre, 16, and Mark McFann, 40.

In contrast, the women’s division was much closer as 2012 winner Velda Balmer outfinished defending champion Missy Taylor for first place.

Balmer, 51, posted a time of 21:04 and Ashland’s Taylor, 46, was eight seconds back.

“The last 100 yards my hamstring knotted up a little bit,” said Balmer, who placed 18th overall.

Balmer, also the Super Quik 5K women’s champ in 1999, grew up across the Ohio River and now lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

“I came in Thursday to see my parents,” she said of longtime road racing enthusiasts Richard and Rose Balmer. “They are legends around here. They’ve been in this race like every year.”

Richard Balmer and Wayne Kuhner, both 82, topped the age list among Saturday’s participants.

Velda continues to be an avid runner. During Memorial Day weekend, she won her age division in a half-marathon at Traverse City, Michigan.

“This was my first 5K for a while,” Balmer said. “Super Quik is an ironic name, being that’s it’s downhill at the start and then you run back up.”

The race had 211 finishers.

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