Fenton Twp. — Mike LeDuc is a runner, but he doesn’t compete in too many running events.
“I do about three races a year, maybe,” LeDuc said.
Apparently three races is enough. LeDuc, 49, was the first-place runner at the Wings of Mercy Runway 5K race held at Linden Price’s Airport on Saturday night. He won the race with a time of 18:23.9, or about 15 seconds faster than second-place runner Matthew Bartman (18:38.7). The first female runner to finish was Pamela Rynearson, who finished ninth with a time of 20:49.
“I know (Wings of Mercy volunteer pilot) Tim Draeger,” LeDuc said. “They had the flying and the pancake breakfast this morning and all the proceeds go to the Wings of Mercy, which is a really good cause. So I thought I’d come down and run the race.”
The race was one of many activities slated for Saturday. The 5K race follows a one-mile fun run and both are ran on the airstrips at the airport. The 5K run started at 9 p.m. assuring the race would finish in darker conditions, making the lights on the side of the airstrips a pivotal part of the race.
LeDuc was pleased with his performance.
“I was right about where I thought,” the Fenton resident said. “Dreaming, I thought I may go into the 17s, but I didn’t think I was quite there, yet. I was close.”
Rynearson, 25, went to aviation school, making the race a gimmie for her. She has used the airstrips to take off and land in the past. She found out about the race earlier in the day.
“I am a private pilot so this is up my alley,” Rynearson said. “I love to run and I love aviation, so there was no way I was going to miss this one. (The course) is nice and flat. There are no hills, no surprises.”
The race’s proceeds benefit the Wings of Mercy East Michigan Inc. Wings of Mercy provides free air transportation in general aviation aircraft for patients with limited incomes needing treatment at medical centers. This year’s race had 251 registered, an increase of 111 people from last year. The proceeds from the event will help about seven patients get the aviation transportation they need.
The event attracted one well-known runner — Clio resident Riley McLinchon. He’s otherwise known as “The Drubbler” because of his ability to dribble three basketballs while he runs his races. McLincha, 64, didn’t start juggling until he was 30 and never played organized basketball. He started combining the three skills when he was 42.
“It’s probably one of the best places to dribble,” McLincha said. “There are no cracks and I’m not expecting any potholes. If I was in better health and younger I’d probably try to break my record.”
There were some groups there as well. A CrimFit group from the University of Michigan Flint campus had about 15 runners and walkers at the event. Tawana Branch is a Crim leader at the campus. There is a group of runners who meet every Thursday night on campus and run together in preparation for the annual Crim races.
“We just try to get our Crim trainees out, support them and have fun,” said Branch, who is a Flint Township resident.
In all, 225 runners and walkers completed the race.