RUNNING: Runners, walkers Paint the Town Blue for Mitch
Special to The Union
The fourth annual Paint the Town Blue for Mitch 5K/10K took place Sunday at Nevada Union High School, offering more than 100 participants the chance to run or walk in support of a great cause.
All the benefits from the event go to a scholarship named for Mitch Adams, a Nevada Union student athlete who tragically passed away after a car crash in 2015, as well as other local organizations.
Putting on a race under any circumstances is a difficult task; putting on a race in March, when most runners are still early in their training calendars and the weather is rarely very pleasant, is a truly daunting enterprise. Yet, on Sunday exactly 100 runners plus a contingent of walkers took to the course looping around Nevada Union’s campus to support the benefit efforts and get some quality running in too. The second race on the Gold Country Grand Prix’s calendar proved to be up to the task.
Monica Adams, Mitch’s mother and the race director, was pleased with how the event turned out. In addition to the 100 runners, 93 walkers came out to participate in Adams’ event and support its charitable causes. Adams also expressed her continued amazement and joy at the generosity of the community.
“It was amazing, I’m so grateful for the community. I feel so loved, supported and grateful, and I know that Mitch would feel that way too,” said Adams.
It is fair to say that this edition of the race was a somewhat unorthodox one, with a difficult course that had to be tweaked from previous editions because of the recent rain and a preponderance of some of the usual top performers in the Grand Prix absent the race offered a unique chance at victory for the local runner brave enough to take it.
Anders Drageset, a teacher at Nevada Union, won the 5K in a time of 23 minutes, 2 seconds. Although this was not his best time, nor the fastest mark the course has seen in its history, it was Drageset’s first overall victory in a Grand Prix event; the win, however, did come as somewhat of a shock to Drageset.
“It was a little surprising, I kept waiting to get caught,” said Drageset, noting that he nonetheless resisted the urge to look over his shoulder before reaching the finish line.
Aside from Drageset’s victory, the standout performance of the day surely belonged to the runner who came closest to catching him, Jade Biittner. The 12 year old ran 23:31 to claim second place overall and first in her 11-14 age group.
In the 10K, the men’s winner was Ryan Nestell, 38, who finished in a time of 51:09. The women’s 10K winner was Grace McDaniel, 16, with a mark of 55:03.
Beyond his success on the course, Drageset emphasized the cause as a primary motivator for both himself and his family.
“We as a family run all the races (in the Grand Prix) to support the causes,” said Drageset, adding that this race in particular was well worth the effort.
“I can’t imagine that loss,” said Drageset of the tragic loss of Mitch Adams, “we want to make sure that as long as they put this on we support them.”
One of the foundational beliefs the Grand Prix series is based on is that the community will come together to support one another through running. The fourth annual Paint the Town Blue for Mitch race proved this belief convincingly once again.
Kael Newton is a Nevada County native and freelance journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @KaelNewton on Twitter.
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