TRAVERSE CITY — Calvin College was the unofficial winner of the Meijer Festival of Races 15K on Saturday.
Officially, Dan Kerr crossed the finish line first in a time of 49:14.59 and David Vandebunte came in second in 49:37.49, but both were teammates at Calvin, which had about a dozen runners compete in Saturday's Cherry Festival race.
"It's pretty cool to bring it back to the Calvin alum because I know Kris Koster has won this race a couple of times and he's from Calvin as well. It's kind of fun to bring it back to Calvin and just represent northern Michigan," said Kerr, from Petoskey.
Eileen Creutz of Saline was the first woman to cross the finish line, posting a time of 1:00:36.99, despite struggling around the midpoint of the race.
"I went out way too fast for the first two miles," said Creutz. "I had to scale it back at miles three and four. I had never run (the 15K) before so I didn't know there was that huge hill halfway through the race. I was feeling pretty bad from mile three to mile six. I felt better from mile six on."
So how did she pull through?
"I don't know," she said. "Knowing I couldn't stop until I finished. I wasn't really thinking about times. I have a garmin, but it didn't lock on to a signal so I didn't know what pace I was running the whole time until halfway through the race. I was happy around mile three just to finish. I was feeling pretty bad. As I kept going it was so motivating, all the people on the course, all the athletes that you pass and they say, 'good job' or 'keep going.'"
For Kerr, it was his third straight Cherry Festival 15K, finishing second a year ago.
"A couple of years ago I ran a 50:32, or somewhere around there, and then I was in a close dual with Zach Ripley last year and both of us were right around 48:32. Today felt pretty smooth, though," said Kerr. "(Vandebunte) was with me for awhile. We just kind of worked it together. Then I just felt like going in the last mile and a half or so because I was feeling really good and I wanted to see what the body had. It was a real fun race. It's just a blessing to be out here and just nice to run this race again."
Kerr's time may have been even better, but he helped out his teammate when (name) began to get cramps.
"I was struggling up the hill," said Vandebunte. "Then I yelled to him at the top 'help me out' and he dropped, he let me get up to him and then he helped me to the eight-mile mark. From there, we were just on our own. He helped me a lot. This is my best finish. I was fourth last year. Happy to finish second to my teammate."
Kelly Schubert of Freesoil, a runner at Central Michigan, was in first for a time, but Creutz overtook her late in the race.
"I started feeling bad at seven (miles), for sure," she said. "It must have been one of those days. I think I was 10 seconds slower than last time (she ran the 15K two years ago), but I stopped more this time than last time. I stopped three times on the hill because I had the worst side cramps. If it was all flat it would've been so much better, but it's a challenge. It was fun."