Hundreds turn out for sixth annual 5K/10K Mardi Gras run
Morgan Hill – The Mushroom Mardi Gras 10K and 5K went off without a hitch, despite the headwinds and nippy weather.

One hundred and sixty three-plus runners hit the paved course along the Coyote Creek Bike Trail in Morgan Hill Saturday. The event is a six-year-old fundraiser tradition hosted by the Live Oak Athletic Boosters with co-directors Sue Scigliano and track and country coach Dean Raymond at the helm. This year, athletes from as far away as Chicago competed with local South Valley racers.

The rustic backdrop made sprinting along the trail a refreshing one. The Mushroom Mardi Gras food fair was gearing up on Monterey Road at the same time and organizers expected record crowds to converge on the main drag through the Mushroom City. So it came as no surprise that some racers visited the 27th annual fungus festival afterwards.

Stellar performances by the top winners in both distances started with the 10K overall finisher in the men’s division. Raymond Rodriguez, 44, from Los Banos blazed through the end with a time of 37:26. His bout with an injury didn’t hamper his ability.

“I have a sprained ligament in my right knee,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t think I was going to run the race. (I) did rehab during the week. Felt good, was able to run.”

Hollister resident Rob Zimmerman, who participated in this year’s Boston Marathon, was not too far from Rodriguez with a second-place 37:47.

“The headwinds were nasty, but it’s a good course.” Zimmerman said. “I ran Boston this year; it was easier than I thought. I did it in 2:51. I’m used to hills, I often train at Pinnacles National Monument. Trail running is the best.”

Third-place finisher John Mintz arrived in 39:39.

Two Gilroyans dominated the women’s 10K top spots with Michelle Garber’s impressive winning time of 41:46 and Gretchen Yoder-Schrock taking second in 46:16.

“I picked up running in January and this is my third race this year,” said Garber, a 19-year old Notre Dame University student .

“It was a fun race,” said Yoder-Schrock. “I’m notorious for starting out too fast, but I was able to keep pace.”

Morgan Hill racer Marti Menz, 50, closed in on 46:19.

“I kept a very even pace. We ran into the wind going out, but with the wind on our backs going in. It was perfect running weather,” said Menz. She and Yoder-Schrock are members of the South Valley Running Club (SVRC).

The 5K overall winner went to a female – Dina Rosenthal won it with her speedy time of 17:26. Debbie Leale followed behind with 19:48, and Live Oak High freshman Olivia Duran, 14, ran the race in 21:29.

“The course was pretty easy, flat,” Duran said. “I’ve been training on my own, since track season is over.”

The men who took the top three positions in the men’s division were Ignacio Perez (18:21), Armando Rodriguez (19:43) and SVRC member Kevin Stuart of San Martin (20:04).

Stuart ran the American River Ultra-50-miler in April along with SVRC president Craig Lore.

“I ran as hard as I could, trying to stay head of Craig during the whole time,” Stuart said. Consequently, Lore finished fourth with a time of 20:05.

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