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Runner sets record in Dash

For the second time in as many years, Brenton Widener captured the Annual Thomson 5-K Depot Dash, which was run through downtown streets of the Camellia City of the South last Saturday.

Two other runners, who like Widener hail from Thomson, Antoine West and Chris Thigpen, meanwhile, ended up as runner-up and third place finishers.

Widener set a record time in winning the event in 16:49. Last year's winning time was 16:57.

"It was great to come back home and win the race again," said Widener, a junior at Shorter College in Rome. "How could I lose with a crowd like this around?"

Widener, the son of Skipper and Bonnie Widener, of Thomson, wasn't as rested as he would like to have been before setting out on his latest run.

"I stayed up a lot of hours since Thursday working on my portfolio," said Widener during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror following his latest victory.

This year's win was a little sweeter than last year, because he brought with him his girlfriend, Courtney Pike, of Winston, Ga. Miss Pike, also a junior at Shorter College, was the first woman to cross the finish line in the Thomson Depot Dash. She finished with a personal-best time of 19:40.

"It's exciting to have been the first woman to cross the finish line," said Miss Pike, who is majoring in early childhood education. "The race was a lot of fun."

Widener's former cross country coach when he attended Thomson High School spoke highly of Widener's running ability.

"He's one of the best runners I've ever coached," said Neil Osbon. "He's very spiritually motivated."

This year's runner-up was 16-year-old Antoine West, a sophomore at Thomson High School, who beat out Chris Thigpen for the honor in a race that wasn't decided until just before the finish line.

"I think I could have done better than I did," said West, one of the school's cross country running stars. "It was a great experience."

Thigpen, a Thomson resident and former graduate of Thomson High School, finished third with a time of 18:27.

"We (West) were neck and neck there for a while," said Thigpen, 25, who works with the Jefferson County Board of Education as head football and head baseball coach at Wrens Middle School.

"He (West) made a good push towards the end. His younger legs got me," Thigpen said.

Thigpen and his wife, Mallory, who coaches at Lincoln County High School in Lincolnton, participated in this year's Annual Music City Marathon in Nashville, Tenn. The couple finished the 26.2-mile race, along with more than 20,000 runners.

"That was a pretty big experience," added Thigpen.

One of the oldest runners to finish the Thomson Depot Dash was Harlem's Tom Blalock, a member of the Thomson Running Club.

"I had a lot of fun running again this year in this race," said Blalock, a forestry consultant and member of Harlem City Council.

Blalock has been a runner for 35 years.

"I love it; there's something special about being able to run," said Blalock.

A host of runners -- all members of the Thomson Running Club -- participated in this year's event. The club, which was formed in June, is under the direction of Alicia Brown and Barry Bennett.

Members of the club include: Kelly Brooks, Robert Nicholas, Jerry Duncan, Keryl Frost, Tammy Crawford, Jeff Guerrero, Tom Blalock, Jeanette Calvin, Diane Norris, Tanya Gowan, Mary Jane Heffner, Michael Heffner, Carrie Lokey and Kelsey D'Antignac.

Web posted on Thursday, December 10, 2009

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