By Debbie Fetterman
Craig Lautenslager, Saturday’s (March 16) St. Paddy’s Dash Down Greenville 5K champion, ran in honor of the victims of Friday’s terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. He spent his formative years growing up in New Zealand.
Lautenslager took off fast, clocking a 4-minute, 25-second first mile. He hung on to finish first among the field of more than 5,000 in 14:29 in the high-energy, pre-Greenville Avenue Parade 5K.
“I haven’t run that fast in a long time,” said Lautenslager, 25. “My lungs were burning after that first mile.”
Runner-up Ricky “Luis” Romero of Austin finished in 14:42, holding off Princeton’s Colby Mehmen by one second. Mehmen flew in late Friday night from Boulder, CO., where he’s living out of his camper, working at the Boulder Running Company and marathon training at altitude. He raced after less than four hours of sleep.
Lautenslager set a fast pace. The top four men clocked sub 15-minute times. Fort Worth’s Gabriel Zambrano finished fifth in 15 flat, three weeks after he won The Cowtown Marathon. It was a personal best on the roads for Zambrano.
Grand Prairie’s Kelsey Bruce captured the women’s title in 16:27, which was a road 5K personal best for her. Dallas’ Erica Marrari, 37, held off Coppell’s Gabriella DeLeon, 23, to finish second overall female in 17:10. DeLeon was eight seconds behind her.
Dallas’ Dane Batzel and Dawn Grunnagle were the male and female masters winners, in 16:19 and 17:39, respectively.
The overall male and female winners earned $1,000. Second-place finishers received $500. The third place overall and masters winners took home $250.
Lautenslager ran for a team in Nelson, New Zealand, but he often raced against runners from Canterbury, which is in Christchurch.
“I had the idea yesterday, after hearing about the really tragic events in New Zealand, that I would try to honor those victims by wearing red and black, the traditional colors of all Christchurch’s sports teams,” he said after the race. “It’s really shocking. You see all the shootings in the United States, and you think it will never happen in your country.”
On Facebook, he added: “As someone who has visited Christchurch many times, I am shocked, horrified and deeply saddened by what happened, and I only hope the affected communities and city as a whole can recover as it did after 2011’s earthquake.”
Saturday’s course circled The Village, a neighborhood where Lautenslager’s parents, Greg and Debbie, lived when he was about 2 years old, his dad said. The family moved to New Zealand, where his Mom grew up when Craig was 8.
Lautenslager ran for UT-Arlington from 2012-2017. After graduating in May 2017, he spent a year in New Zealand before relocating to North Texas in May 2018. He works for a software development company in Irving.
For results, visit https://www.wetimeraces.com/results.