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Drew Jordan runs through the 5-mile marker on his way into the finish.

RAY ON THE RUN

JACKSONVILLE — Suzanne Ray took full advantage of her advantage.

The 56-year-old Cascade Christian High School teacher ran away from everyone in the Britt Woods Firehouse Run Saturday, winning the handicapped trail race by more than 31/2 minutes over her closest pursuer, two-time defending champion Tina Ure of Mount Shasta City, Calif.

Runners had staggered start times based on age and gender, and Ray got more than enough lead time to put her foot down on the competition.

"When you get to be my age, you take every chance you get to be in front," she grinned.

The race is along trails through the backwoods of Jacksonville and this year covered 5.25 miles, about a mile shorter than the previous six years, when it was 10 kilometers.

It followed three new trails carved into the hillside and avoided dipping below the Britt grounds so as not to interfere with the Children's Festival.

But by shortening the route, said race director Doug Naversen, runners with handicaps gained an even bigger edge because the scratch runners had less distance to close the gap.

Drew Jordan, a junior and a top runner at North Medford High, was the first male to finish, taking third overall. Another quality prep runner, senior Elliott Jantzer of Phoenix, who has won five state championships in cross country and track, started in the last group and placed 10th overall.

"I was pleased with the course," said Naversen, who started the event in 2002 and patterned it after a race in Mill Valley, Calif. "It seemed like the ladies and people with more handicap did better."

Whether the handicap system is revamped remains to be seen, said Naversen. He contemplated tweaking it after men won the first four races. Then came Ure with back-to-back wins, putting that consideration to rest.

Now, it's the women who are on a three-year run.

Ray's time was 48 minutes, 55.84 seconds. She started seven minutes ahead of Ure, who clocked 52:35.77.

Ure would have begun sooner, but she was docked one minute for each of her previous wins, customary treatment of the victor.

Jordan, who was second last year, was timed in 53:14.12, followed by Medford's Brenna Phelps in 54:06.24 and Medford's Bob Julian Jr. in 54:11.30. Julian actually had the fastest time on the course at 33:11.30, which goes down as the record for the new course.

Ray moved here less than two years ago from Minneapolis and is originally from Alaska. She missed last year's event but couldn't pass it up again.

"I'm not a trail runner," she confessed. "I'm a beat-the-pavement lady."

She was coming off a half-marathon last weekend in Tijuana, Mexico, where she earned 5,000 pesos for winning her age division.

When Ray started the Britt run, there were a couple of men she had to catch early, "then it was just running scared the whole way," she said. "You're worried about the young guys coming up behind you. Uh-oh, here they come."

But no one did.

"I thought there'd be someone right on my heels at the finish," she said. "There were a couple of people I thought should be right there."

As it turned out, the only stress she felt was on the downhill stretches.

"Those are killers for old knees," she said.

Ure considers herself a "trail snob" and loves the course and this year's changes. The alterations made the route shadier, safer and shorter, said Naversen, and was easier to follow without getting lost.

It fit the bill on all counts, said Ure, who a week earlier ran the hardest race of her life and won her division. She competed in the 50-mile Devils Backbone race in Montana.

"It's hard to find speedy legs after doing ultra-endurance things," she said.

Nevertheless, she didn't back down here, even with the extra time she was given.

"Two minutes is a long time," said Ure. "It's fun when you're the defending champion. But as it becomes old history, you don't want to carry that around like a ball and chain the rest of your life.

"I still thought I stood a chance. I went in hopeful. I'm an optimist."

Naversen said the time deduction for past winners could eventually have a statute of limitations, but there is no such stipulation currently in place.

Jordan was pleased with his results. He started a minute ahead of Julian and the two covered the course in the same actual time. He started two minutes ahead of Jantzer and ran 12 seconds faster.

"The course is brutal," he said. "You can kind of grind it on the first two hills, but the third one just beats you up."

There were 105 competitors, with almost an equal split of males and females, said Naversen.

5.25-Mile Run

(Listing place, name, age, hometown, handicap time/actual time)

1, Suzanne Ray, 56, Medford, 48:55.84/ 54:55.84; 2, Tina Ure, 48, Mt. Shasta, 52:35.77/ 49:35.77; 3, Drew Jordan, 16, Medford, 53:14.12/ 33:14.12; 4, Brenna Phelps, 13, Medford, 54:06.24/ 42:06.24; 5, Robert Julian, 40, Medford, 54:11.30/ 33:11.30; 6, Jim Clover, 66, Grants Pass, 54:36.68/ 48:36.68; 7, Joe Cool Griffiin, 48, Central Point, 54:52.54/ 36:52.54; 8, Ali Miles, Jacksonville, 24, 55:00.16/ 40:00.16; 9, Laura Raber, 30, Eagle Point, 55:25.07/ 40:25.07; 10, Elliott Jantzer, 18, Medford, 55:26.43/ 33:26.43.

11, Charles Hodge, 57. Eagle Point, 55:34/ 42:34; 12, Neil Seibert, 14, Medford, 55:36/ 37:36; 13, Richard Zhu, 18, Medford, 55:47/ 33:47; 14, Jim Cruickshank, 64, Medford, 55:54/ 48:54; 15, Lauren Morgan, 14, Jacksonville, 55:54/ 43:54; 16, Doug Madsen, 61, Bonanza, 56:07/ 46:07; 17, Sarah Hyman, 39, Jacksonville, 56:08/ 41:08; 18, Tim Vanderlugt, 43, La Grande, 56:09/ 36:09; 19, Bruce Stowell, 54, Grants Pass, 56:15/ 41:15; 20, Jane Podolski, 48, Medford, 57:20/ 46:20.

21, Justin Loftus, 36, Ashland, 57:28/ 35:28; 22, Adam Seibert, 38, Medford, 57:29/ 36:36; 23, Ashley Berry, 23, Medford, 57:33/ 42:33; 24, Kent Gutches, 48, Central Point, 57:51/ 37:51; 25, Kierra Huggins, 26, Medford, 57:55/ 42:55; 26, Mike Davis, 49, Talent,, 58:40/ 40:40; 27, Harrison Leep, 14, Jacksonville, 58:50/ 40:50; 28, Jilinda Franklin, 17, Ft. Jones, 58:58/ 44:58; 29, Monica Lewis, 43, Medford, 59:00/ 46:00; 30, DD Bents, 37, Grants Pass, 59:26/ 44:28.

31, Kaija Staley, 32, Jacksonville, 59:57/ 44:57; 32, Don Biggie, Medford, 51, 60:00/ 43:00; 33, David Jordan, 40, Medford, 60:08/ 39:08; 34, Trudy Dickinson, 52, Medford, 60:17/ 50:17; 35, Brad Huggins, 19, Grants Pass, 60:44/ 37:37; 36, Dusty Miller, 61, Mt. Shasta, 61:12/ 51:12; 37, Steve Buxton, 60, Medford, 61:35/ 50:35; 38, Riley Morgan, 16, Jacksonville, 61:36/ 47:36; 39, David Noom, 57, Yreka, 61:56/ 48:56; 40, Sam Whitridge, 28, Ashland, 62:51/ 39:51.

41, Bruce Deline, 54, Medford, 62:51/ 47:51; 42, Anne Tracy, 48, Jacksonville, 62:58/ 51:58; 43, Jon Theiring, 34, Ashland, 62:59/ 40:59; 44, Raul Hernandez, 49, White City, 63:07/ 45:07; 45, Craig Sewell, 35, McCloud, 63:20/ 41:20; 46, Chris Redffeldt, 35, Medford, 63:34/ 41:34; 47, Chuck Whitely, 50, Medford, 63:40/ 46:40; 48, Kim Haandloser, 44, Medford, 64:06/ 52:06; 49, Scott Moore, 50, Medford, 64:10/ 47:10; 50, Vladimir Jensen, 18, Jacksonville, 64:28/ 42:28.

51, Stephen Staha, 29, Medford, 64:44; 52, Piers Rasmussen, 14, Central Point, 64:54/ 46:54; 53, Jeni Beck, 39, Jacksonville, 65:05/ 50:05; 54, Marcus Davis, 19, Trail, 65:15/ 42:15; 55, Jason Jantzer, 43, Medford, 65:19/ 45:19; 56, Travis Jantzer, 14, Medford, 65:25/ 47:25; 57, Forrest Elred, 13, Grants Pass, 65:28/ 48:28; 58, Heather Welch, 31, Medford, 65:52/ 50:52; 59, Tyrone Raber, 31, Eagle Point, 66:07/ 44:07; 60, Chrism George, 44, Medford, 66:24/ 46:24.

61, Aysha Staha, 30, Medford, 66:40/ 51:40; 62, Austin Morgan, 13, Jacksonville, 66:42/ 49:42; 63, MJ Maranghi, 42, Grants Pass, 66:53/ 46:53; 64, Heidi Bosworth, 36, Central Point, 67:50/ 52:50; 65, Chris Combs, 30, Medford, 68:18/ 45:18; 66, Rita Stowell, 55, Grants Pass, 68:36/ 61:36; 67, Don Stone, 51, Montague, 68:53, 51; 68, Meg Rawlings, 53, Medford, 69:17/ 60:17; 69, Douglas Hecox, 37, Jacksonville, 69:45/ 47:45; 70, Scott Sherbourne, 38, Jacksonville, 69:50/ 48:50.

71, Renee Huizinga, 21, Jacksonville, 69:56/ 54:54; 72, Robert Balck, 44, Medford, 70:21/ 50:21; 73, Stella Russell, 39, Medford, 70:30/ 55:30; 74, John Strange, 39, Jacksonville, 70:30; 75, Joseph Nelson, 26, Ashland, 70:32/ 47:32; 76, Dara DuVivier, 35, Ashland, 61:20/ 46:20; 77, Jack Lewis, 40, Medford, 61:23/ 40:23; 78, Ryan Munn, 37, Medford, 61:25/ 39:25; 79, Renee Swenson, 36, Ashland, 61:47/ 46:47; 80, Tammy Moore, 36, Wilderville, 71:59/ 58:59.

81, John Voorhes, 57, Grants Pass, 72:01/ 59:83.2; 82, Amber Black, 14, Medford, 62:22/ 50; 83, Chelsea Coker, 19, Medford, 72:28/ 57:28; 84, John Wiley, 37, Medford, 73:08/ 51:08; 85, Robin Van Horn, 44, Central Point, 73:46/ 61:46; 86, Bengt Hammer, 74, Jacksonville, 73:51/ 73:51; 87, Ken Smoke, 42, Jacksonville, 73:57/ 53:57; 88, Diane Green, 51, Medford, 74:41/ 63:41; 89, Georgene Richardson, 50, Medford, 75:15/ 64:15; 90, John Lohrfink, 30, Central Point, 75:17/ 52:17.

91, Julie Hunt, 46, Grants Pass, 76:59/ 65:59; 92, Norman Shasky, 60, Yreka, 77:00/ 66:00; 93, Mike Rodgers, 39, Medford, 77:41/ 57:41; 94, Skyler Black, 11, Medford, 78:00/ 63:00; 95, David Rasmussen, 52, Central Point, 78:48/ 62:48; 96, Cherise Black, 43, Medford, 79:02/ 66:02; 97, Joe Volk, 46, Medford, 81:17/ 62:17; 98, Andrea Ure, 11, Mt. Shasta, 82:03/ 73:03; 99, Jim Van Horn, 49, Central Point, 82:14/ 64:14; 100, Rick Williams, 42, Jacksonville, 82:41/ 62:41.

101, Elizabeth Ascencio, 47, Grants Pass, 85:17/ 74:17; 102, Tracy Shaw, 51, Central Point, 90:14/ 76:14; 103, Judy Klosterman, 55, Medford, inc.; 104, Tina Van Horn, 25, Medford, 2:00.59/1:45.59; 105, Derek Van Horn, 17, Central Point, 2:00.59/1:39:59.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com

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