Redondo runners prevail to win Village Runner St. Patrick’s 5K

Special Operations Command Leprechaun Squadron, aka the Freeman Family of Redondo Beach, took first place in the Costume Contest. Photo


Running in front of hometown crowd, Stewart Harwell followed a runner-up performance at the Redondo Beach Super Bowl 10K by winning a championship at the 14th annual Village Runner St. Patrick’s Day 5K in riviera village Sunday morning. Photo

Taking advantage of a home course and ideal racing conditions, Redondo Beach runners dominated the 14th annual Village Runner St. Patrick’s Day 5K race Sunday outpacing the competition for male and female championships.

A heavy marine layer and and a one-hour time change did not deter the more than 1,500 participants who started and finished the course in Riviera Village.

Coming off a second-place finish at the Redondo Beach Super Bowl 10K last month, Stewart Harwell was the first runner to emerge from the fog crossing the finish line with a time of 15 minutes, 25 seconds.

“It was great racing conditions,” Harwell said. “We went out fast but I caught the leader at a mile, and I’m so excited to win this race. It’s such a great community event and has that small-town feel right here in LA.”

Harwell held off El Segundo’s Austin Van Biezen, 23, who placed second at 16:02 and Adam Henry, 32, of Santa Monica who finished third at 16:18.

After running for UC Santa Barbara, the 33-year old oil and gas engineer from Redondo Beach has enjoyed success on South Bay courses winning the 2016 Super Bowl 10K, placing third at the 2016 Village Runner 4th of July 5K and winning the 2015 LA Kings 5K in El Segundo.

“I ran the mile in college at UCSB, but I wasn’t satisfied with my college career,” Harwell said. “I’ve gotten much better in my running as I’ve gotten older and competing against these younger guys. I had a nagging for years and two years ago I had a nerve cut out of my foot which has helped..”

South Bay running legend Nathalie Higley re-claimed the women’s crown by more than one minute. Photo

South Bay running legend Nathalie Higley, 47, of Redondo Beach captured the women’s title by more than one minute. She has won the women’s division of the race at least four times and this year’s time of 18:26 ranked 13th overall while she maintained her record as the oldest female champion.

“It was a fast start so I had to wait to make my move,” Higley said. “It wasn’t easy but I’m just very happy with the win.”

Juliana Libertin, a 25-year-old Northwestern University med student from Green, Ohio finished second at 19:30 besting Linda Jegren, 28, from Stockholm, Sweden who placed third at 20:20.

South Bay chef, restaurateur, and “Top Chef” season 14 winner Brooke Williamson served as Honorary Host at the event the ran the 5K course alongside her husband, Nick Roberts and their son, Hudson.

Olympic track and field gold medalist Steve Lewis was the first recipient of the Running Icon award at the Village Runner St. Patrick’s Day 5K, an award presented to him by his former UCLA Bruin, Santa Monica Track Club, and Olympic teammate Danny Everett.

Thanks to the support of many volunteers, Race Director Mike Ward was able to compete in the race placing first in the men’s 45-49 age group with a time of 20;52.

“For me it was so much fun racing today to take first in my age division and also putting together this whole event,” Ward said. “I love the spirit of this whole community, and it’s really demonstrated every year at this race.”

Olympic gold medalist Steve Lewis, left, is presented the inaugural Running Icon award by longtime friend and former teammate Danny Everett. Photo

Males winning their age divisions were: Cole Johnson (1-8, Redondo Beach, 21:39), Drake McKechnie (9-12, Torrance, 20:00), Will Garnell (13-17, Manhattan Beach, 17:44), Van Biesen (18-24), Adrian Agudello (25-29, Lomita, 17:56), Harwell (30-34), Jimmy Wills (35-39, Redondo Beach, 17:36), Aaron Munger (40-44, Palos Verdes Estates, 16:46), Ward (45-49), Jake Courtney (50-54, Hermosa Beach, 18:19), David Whiterall (55-59, Redondo Beach, 20:40), Dennis Donohue (60-64, Redondo Beach, 22:00), Jack McDowell (65-69, Rancho Palos Verdes, 26:15), Marty Friedman (70-74, Manhattan Beach, 23:11), Frank Murphy (75-79, Canoga Park, 35:13) and Nathan Winer (80-99, Palos Verdes, 28:00).

Females age group winners included: Divya Bhatia (1-8, Palos Verdes Estates, 31:37), Katy Orre (9-12, Redondo Beach, 21:34), Mia Trodden (13-17, Redondo Beach, 21:05), Nicole Sroczynski (18-24, Torrance, 22:17), Libertin (25-29), Katie McKee (30-34, Redondo Beach, 22:47), Noelle Lem (35-39, Redondo Beach, 21:53), Irene Prokos (40-44, Redondo Beach, 22:19), Higley (45-49), Karina Bird (50-54, Redondo Beach, 22:42), Shelly Doyle (55-59, Torrance, 24:29), Julie McKinney (60-64, 25:29), Joan Gaynor (65-69, Torrance, 31:48), Linda Whitehead (70-74, Los Angeles, 31:18), ary elwell (75-79, Palos Verdes Peninsula, 35:58) and Virginia Lespor (80-99, El Monte, 44:42).

In the Chase Stecyk Leprechaun Dash for Gold: kids’ races Lilian Cook, of Torrance won the 8-9 age group, Beck Lopes, of Palos Verdes took top honors in the 6-7 division and Benjamin Rozanski held off fellow Redondo Beach resident Janessa Dziedzic to win a close 4-5 division race.

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Written by: Randy Angel

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