TRAVERSE CITY — Nicole Sifuentes is using the $1,100 she won to pay for a business degree. Daniel Clark’s is paying off a business trip.
And for around four minutes — give or take — both were all business Thursday, winning the elite races in the Fifth Third Bank Golden Mile in downtown Traverse City.
“Straight to the bank,” Sifuentes said of her prize money, as she took home $1,000 for the win and a $100 bonus for leading at the halfway point. “My husband is going to business school in the fall, so we’re saving our pennies for that.”
The 27-year-old Winnipeg native and Plymouth resident won in 4:32, 26 seconds over Benzie Central’s Devyn Ramsay (4:58). Benzie’s Theresa Warsecke was third, one second behind Ramsay, and another Huskies runner, Jill Louisignau, was fourth.
Clark won his second consecutive Golden Mile and pocketed $1,000 check for the second time in four tries. Ann Arbor’s Brendon Blacklaws won the $100 bonus for leading at the midpoint, but ended up eighth.
Last year’s winnings paid for his trip to Olympic Trials. This year’s will go toward his trip to the USA Championships two weeks ago. “I’m almost in the black,” he joked.
Second place earns $500 and third $250 in each race.
Clark’s time of 3:58.2 edged out Cleveland’s Tony Jardanek’s four-minute flat effort. Michigan State alumnus Josh McAlary was third in 4:02.3, Aiman Scullion fourth in 4:04.4 and Kingston’s Tony Filipek fifth in 4:05.3.
“I try not to focus too much on time,” Clark said, a 27-year-old Notre Dame graduate who has placed in the money in three of four years here. “I like to race and compete and the times will come.”
The race layout was slightly different this year, starting on Union Street and ending at the corner of Railroad and State.
“It’s a couple blocks different, but I like the setup with the fans,” Clark said. “It makes it an awesome experience. Being in the evening is a nice little change, too, instead of being in the morning like it’s been the past few years. It’s definitely a lot of fun, and I love coming up here and competing.”
Sifuentes cruised to the win.
“I’m not really sure,” Sifuentes said of when she pulled away. “I could see a shadow behind me, but probably about maybe halfway. Maybe a little before that.
Racing abroad within the last week also threw a monkey wrench in her plans.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Sifuentes said. “I was just over in the U.K. a couple days ago racing in Birmingham. I got back on the first. It’s kind of hard to sleeps with jet lag. I’m definitely happy with 4:32. I didn’t know if I’d feel up to that.
“It’s just such a fun event — I’m happy to be here. Especially on the Fourth of July. There’s so much excitement. It’s just a lot of fun. Sometimes in the middle of summer, it doesn’t work out to make it to these fun events on the road because there’s so much focus on the track, so I’m really happy it worked out this summer. I’m staying with some friends up here and we’re going to make it a long weekend up north.”