Confusion, Huskey reign at run

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

The Cape Girardeau runner finished No. 1 among 254 entrants.

Southeast Missourian

Lost somewhere in the confusion of an unexpectedly large crowd of runners for Monday's Independence Day 5K run at Jackson City Park was one very important fact: the winner.

Cory Huskey of Cape Girardeau crossed the finish line first in a time of 17 minutes, 21 seconds. Due to some confusion at the finish line, the first-place award originally was presented to runner-up Mike Mead of Lake City, Ga. Race officials needed a couple stabs at reconfirming the results to get the award in the right hands.

"It got a little chaotic," Huskey said.

Results reported to the Southeast Missourian for publication in Tuesday's edition, however, were incorrect.

"That just broke my heart," said race organizer Debbie Leoni, the wellness manager for Southeast Missouri Hospital and its fitness facilities. "I've had to tell people I wouldn't trust the results by the numbers."

Leoni, who has plenty of experience organizing local running events, said a surge in race-day registrations proved to be overwhelming. Last year's Independence Day 5K attracted 138 runners, and there was no indication this year's race would draw 254 starters.

"It was a great surprise," Leoni said. "We had ordered 150 of everything," including the numbering sticks used at the finish line to match runners with their times.

"I've done 30 races, easy," Leoni said. "I've never had 100 people register on the day of the race. What happened [Monday], I have no clue. I guess it was just a beautiful day attached to a weekend. If I had any anticipation that many runners would register, we would've had more people at the finish. It never happened before."

While Leoni is concerned runners' memories of the finish line will overshadow a challenging course and good weather, she wants runners to know that organizers will be ready next year.

"We'll be ready for 300 next year," she said. "We want them to know, 'Don't stay away. We'll be ready.'"

Huskey, a recent graduate of Central High School, showed he was ready Monday.

He took an early lead, yielded the lead to Mead with about a mile left and then put the race away in the final 400 meters. The 3.1-mile distance was a short training run in his long-term goals to run his first marathon.

"It was a little fun race," Huskey said. "I'm training to run a marathon in September. My normal training days are still low -- five or six miles -- and I have a long run each week of about 10 miles. Eventually, I'm going to get up to around 20 miles on the long run."

Huskey, who has been running seriously since about eighth grade, was a three-year member of the Central cross country team and ran track as a senior. He wrestled four years and qualified for the state meet twice. Huskey is a member of the Cape Girardeau American Legion baseball team this summer. He isn't certain what sport he may play in college, but he does plan a long career in running.

"I don't know if it's something I'll do at the college level, but it's something I'll do the rest of my life," he said. "I'm planning to run some marathons and get into triathlons."

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