GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Fernando Cabada and Molly Pritz won the 25K race in the 34th annual Fifth Third River Bank Run on Saturday, leading the way for more than 20,000 participants.
Cabada, 29, also won the 25K in 2006. The Fresno native who now lives in Boulder won this year in 1:15:41, about a minute off his pace from five years ago.
Pritz, 23, won the women's division in a time of 1:25:38. She lives and trains in Rochester Hills.
The 25K is the largest race of its kind in the country, drawing elite runners from around the world competing for a total purse of $91,000.
These and other world-class runners led the way for the many thousands who participated, despite the weather.
A steady rain fell as the men's 5K event got underway a few minutes before 7 a.m. Thousands of people began filling the streets of downtown Grand Rapids in the pre-dawn hours.
During the race, one runner collapsed along the route at Lake Michigan Drive and Seward, and was rushed to a hospital. Despite emergency efforts, the man died.
There are as many stories as there are participants.
Next Saturday, Brian Spykerman, 22, and Lauren Anderson, 20, will get married. They decided to train and ran the 5K, their first race, together.
Melissa Hands of Comstock Park "never thought I could do a race, because I hate to run." But the 30-year-old decided to do the 5K and said she was "very excited" to run.
While training for the 25K, Paul Sisovsky had a seizure from a brain tumor. Though he couldn't run the race this year, the 42-year-old from Grandville had his family and friends support him in the 5K walk. They each wore orange shirts with his name on the back.
"I will be back every year," he told 24 Hour News 8. "This is a great event and it's wonderful to have supporting families and friends."
Though he didn't walk here from Cooperstown, N.Y., Josh Edmonds was the first to cross the finish line in the 10K walk. He finished his first-ever event in 31 minutes. "I felt pretty good," he said. "The rain was actually really nice."
Two young brothers from Ada Christian school ran the 10K, inspired by their dad who was running the 25K. Alec Vanderlugt, 11, and his 9-year-old brother Reed said their favorite part was the finish line because so many people were cheering for them.
After running for nine years, Victor Ramirez decided it was time to try the River Bank Run. He was the fourth person to finish the 5K run. The 22-year-old used to run for GVSU and Aquinas, but decided to run independently so he could earn prize money. He said he enjoys racing because he likes to compete and feels his accomplishments through hard work.
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