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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Participants in the Three Rivers Festival 20th annual Runners on Parade race through the streets of downtown on Saturday before the start of the festival parade.

Marathon prep proves worth in 5k

Marathon training paid off for the winners at the 20th Annual Runners on Parade.

Elite runner Ryan Kienzle won the men’s race in a time of 14 minutes, 59.8 seconds. The Brooks-sponsored runner and middle school teacher from Canton, Ohio, began training for the Chicago marathon this week and came out to see just what he could do.

“I was pleasantly surprised with how it went,” Kienzle said. “I had a big week of training this week, and I just wanted to see what I could come out here and do in the 5K. I was happy with the time, the course was nice and I knew some of the guys that were in the race so that were good, as well.”

Kienzle, whose wife is from the Fort Wayne area, is aiming to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in Chicago in October. He missed the qualification standard by one second (1:05:01) at a half marathon in January and has never run a good marathon.

“I feel like I’ve perfected every other distance,” he said. “The half (marathon) is a strong point, but I have yet to run a solid full.”

Ashley Ade won the women’s race in a time of 17:54.1. Her training plans are also focused on the marathon distance, so the win was a pleasant surprise.

“The race went really well,” she said. “I was very consistent and felt surprisingly good. I haven’t really been training for it because I’ve been doing marathon training. I just went into it to have fun and see where I could fall with the college kids and see how long I could hang with them. It’s probably the fastest I’ve run in a couple of years here.”

With their first year at the helm under their belts, the race directors were pleased with the event.

“We had over a thousand register,” co-race director Erin Brady said. “It’s been years since we’ve had that kind of turnout.”

Saturday’s race took almost a year to plan in order to ensure a smooth change in leadership.

“We started planning in August because Mac (McAvoy) had been the race director for 19 years,” co-race director Craig Bobay said. “We knew it was going to be a lot to try and replace him so we got this whole team together.”

In total, there were 11 elite runners.

When asked if the elite section will continue to grow, Brady enthusiastically answered, “Yes!”

“It was kind of neat to see the competition that was so fierce,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite races. We’re happy to see it growing.”