Jones, Ohler win first Empire Challenge |

Jones, Ohler win first Empire Challenge

The first NEO Empire Challenge Run/Walk for Youth took place Saturday at Empire Mine State Park.
John Hart/ | The Union

As the days fall off the calender and the leaves trickle down from tree branches, the Gold Country Grand Prix nears an end to its 2014 running season.

On Saturday, 86 runners and walkers took to Empire Mine State Historic Park for the first NEO Empire Challenge 4.2 mile run and 2 mile walk to benefit youth.

NEO empowers youth to make healthy lifestyle choices by providing New Events and Opportunities in a safe environment that encourages youth success and contributes to a healthier community, according to their website.

Winning the men’s 4.2 mile race was Bjorn Jones with a time of 25 minutes, 33 seconds. In the women’s 4.2 mile race, Makie Ohler took the top spot in a time of 29:20. The win was Ohler’s ninth in as many races in her age group (50-59).

Other age group (AG) winners in the women’s race were Lynne Hurrell (44:16) in the 70-99 AG, Karen Henderson (39:24) in the 60-69 AG, Marley Mueller (30:27) in the 40-49 AG, Melanie Marsico (32:09) in the 30-39 AG, Liv Thomson (38:04) in the 19-29 AG, and Isabelle Smith (34:51) in the 11-14 AG.

Hurrell, Henderson, Mueller and Smith lead their respective age groups in the Gold Country Grand Prix season standings.

Other age group winners in the men’s race were Ron Gross (38:14) in the 70-99 AG, John Odom (39:17) in the 60-69 AG, Rob Taylor (27:04) in the 50-59 AG, Larry DeFeyter (25:47) in the 40-49 AG, Devon Cloud (27:31) in the 15-18 AG, Skylar Mims (34:10) in the 11-14 AG, and Brock Matiska (50:54) in the 1-10 AG.

Gross, Taylor and Cloud lead their respective age groups in the Gold Country Grand Prix season standings.

The NEO Empire Challenge was the 10th race in the 11 race Gold Country Grand Prix series. The final race, which is also the most popular race of the series, is the ninth annual Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot 5K/10K which will be held Nov. 27 at Nevada Union High School.

For more information about the Gold Country Grand Prix or to view results from the individual races visit the Sierra Trailblazers website at

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