LAKEVIEW – The COVID-19 pandemic has posed countless obstacles.
With the pandemic, it’s been a struggle to get back to some type of normalcy, especially for high school athletes.
Columbus Bishop Watterson junior distance runner Max Latshaw is one of many athletes who has been trying to fill the void (of no sports), since the sports world came to a screeching halt back in March, because of the pandemic.
At Saturday’s annual “5K on the Lake” at Lakeview, the 16-year-old Latshaw displayed how a good work ethic can help overcome nearly any obstacle.
Latshaw led from start to finish Saturday, en route to a winning time of 16 minutes, 2.8 seconds on the 5,000-meter course on the streets in Lakeview.
Luke Benjamin, a 41-year-old from Arlington, was a distant second in 18:31.9. Grant Flora, a 14-year-old from Botkins, was third (19:24.5).
Latshaw has not only had to fight through the adversity of not having a spring track season, but also had to battle through a medical condition.
Latshaw, who was diagnosed with epilepsy earlier this year, displayed how 50-mile weeks can benefit a runner. Saturday’s time was Latshaw’s all-time personal best by over a minute.
In fact, Latshaw wasn’t done Saturday, as he was planning on logging an additional 10 miles after the race.
“In February I had a seizure in the middle of the night. It affected my mom a lot. … She was pretty scared about it,” Latshaw said. “I was about at the end of the swim season. I had the flu the week before, so it affected my training a little bit. But I still finished that season strong. So, it really didn’t hold me back, and it’s under control now.”
Latshaw did not decide to race Saturday, until nearly the last minute.
“I just wanted to see what kind of shape I was in, right now, and go out there and have fun with it,” he said.
Latshaw is hopeful there will be a fall cross country season. He’s been running over 50 miles per week this summer, and is focused on coming out strong this fall season.
“I’m very hopeful (of having a cross country season), because I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been in,” he said.
On the women’s side of Saturday’s 5K, Alaina Mann, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Botkins, won in a time of 20:28.6. Rachael Hoover, a 14-year-old from Plain City, was the second overall female (20:49.5).
Mann’s time Saturday was a personal best.
“I wanted to be the top girl,” Mann said with a smile.
Last year as a seventh-grader, Mann clocked a time of 12:26 in the 3,200 meters (middle school cross-country distance). This year, Mann wants to take it to the next level.
“I want to get around 11 (minutes in the 3,200 meters) and get the school record,” she said.
The next top area finisher Saturday was 14-year-old Heath Wilson from Waynesfield. Wilson finished 10th overall in 21:57.9.
There were 121 finishers in Saturday’s 5K, which included both runners and walkers.
Saturday’s annual event was put on by the Indian Lake cross country program.
Indian Lake head cross country and track coach Justin Metzger, said that organizing this year’s event was definitely a challenge.
“COVID-19 did provide some challenges for planning the event, but I’m excited that we were able to provide an opportunity for runners to race in person,” Metzger said. “There have not been many in-person 5Ks over the last four months, and many recreational runners are ready to get out there and race. I love that we are able to provide opportunities and experiences for kids; and it’s great to see that we have over 30 school-aged runners (pre-registered) in the 5K this year.”
Saturday’s race had a little different look than a normal road race. It included a social distancing measure – a staggered starting procedure. There were no water stops on the race course. The runners also were urged not to congregate at the finish line, and to leave soon after finishing the race.