Zack Beavin is getting better with age.
The former University of Kentucky cross country and track athlete won the Bluegrass 10,000 for the third year in a row on Thursday with his best time ever in the 43rd annual road race through downtown Lexington.
The 25-year-old Beavin covered the 10,000 meters in 31 minutes, 16 seconds, besting his winning times of 31:36 in 2017 and 31:56 last year. The Louisville native and St. Xavier graduate held off second place Antonio Marchi of Lexington — himself a three-time Bluegrass 10,000 champion — for the third straight year. Marchi came in Thursday in 31 minutes, 34 seconds.
“The Bluegrass 10K is just such a fun race, there’s nothing like it in Lexington,” said Beavin. “It’s always special to just come out here and run.”
The only runner to win the Bluegrass 10,000 more than three times consecutively was Benny McIntosh, who swept to titles five straight times from 1993 to 1997.
The first female to cross the finish line Thursday was Charlotte Imer, an Eastern Kentucky University graduate and Australia native who came in 16th overall. Imer claimed the women’s title with a time of 36 minutes, 33 seconds.
Heading down the final leg of the race as the tree-lined stretch of Richmond Road led into the business-lined sector of Main Street, it was once again a two-man contest. A total of 3,502 runners (142 more than were registered last year) began the race at 7:30 a.m. under a sunny sky amid humid conditions, but Beavin and Marchi had a sizable lead on the rest of the field as a throng of spectators on either side of the road cheered them on to the finish line. The pair exchanged a high-five and spoke with each other as they waited for other runners to complete the course. Just over a minute-and-a-half after Beavin clocked in, 25-year-old Oliver James of Louisville crossed the finish line third.
Marchi set the pace early on, opening up a lead of about 20 meters over Beavin around the 1-mile mark.
“Antonio likes to take it out fast and I don’t,” Beavin said. “I slowly started to reel him in ... right around 2 miles turning off Vine (Street) onto Richmond Road, I always get a little burst right through there.”
After overtaking Marchi around the 2-mile mark, Beavin led the rest of the way.
“He’s just got both more speed and more endurance,” Marchi said of Beavin. “I tried very hard but sometimes you just reach your genetic potential. My effort was very good, I’m happy. But Zach is just a great runner.”
Beavin plans to run in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, then compete in the Olympic Marathon Trials next February in Atlanta.
“I remember standing here three years ago saying I wanted to qualify for the Olympic Trials and I did that last fall, so I’ve progressed nicely over the last two or three years.”
There are plenty of first-time competitors in every age group in each year’s Bluegrass 10,000. On Thursday, one of those newcomers was 33-year-old Mark Allen of Lexington.
Allen, who works at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, was waiting around near the finish line for a friend and co-worker with whom he began the race after finishing the course in 54 minutes, 36 seconds — good for 790th place overall. It was Allen’s first official 10K after he took up running for exercise about a year ago.
“It was definitely tiring, but it was a lot of fun,” Allen said. “I finished faster than I expected.”
Asked when he lost track of his friend, Allen said with a laugh. “I haven’t seen him since the beginning. I’m gonna let him know about that.”
When the friend in question crossed the finish line a few minutes later, Allen congratulated him with a bottle of water and a pat on the back.
15 and counting
Laurel County’s Greg Queen continued his impressive streak Thursday, winning the crank-wheelchair division for the 15th straight year. The 44-year-old turned in a time of 20 minutes, 35 seconds, improving upon last year’s winning pace by eight seconds. Lexington’s Micah Jackson, 42, finished second with a time of 29:04.
Aerelle Jones, 20, of Nicholasville, won the push-wheelchair division. She finished with a time of 31:35, nearly 10 minutes ahead of second-place Richard Agee of Bullitt County.
Bluegrass 10,000 results
Top 25 overall finishers
1. Zach Beavin, Lexington, 31 minutes, 16 seconds.
2. Antonio Marchi, Lexington, 31:34
3. Oliver James, Louisville, 32:58
4. Dustin Mitchell, Lexington, 33:36
5. David Grieshaber, Louisville, 34:02
6. Jordan Carrington, Somerset, 34:26
7. Adam Martin, Lexington, 34:29
8. Kevin Ryan, Lexington, 35:18
9. Sam Day, Lexington, 35:24
10. Glen Mays, Lexington, 35:30
11. Trent Classen, Lexington, 35:50
12. Eddie Neel, Chesapeake (Ohio), 36:04
13. Shea Thrash, Lexington, 36:17
14. Raymond McKinney, Berea, 36:17
15. Will Cahill, Lexington, 36:25
16. Charlotte Imer, Lexington, 36:33
17. Scott Mangum, Evanston (Ill.), 36:44
18. Mike Bernardi, Lexington, 36:46
19. Jonah Starling, Lexington, 37:03
20. James Ward, Lancaster, 37:06
21. Joseph Van Fleet, Lexington, 37:07
22. Paul McCaffrey, Lexington, 37:14
23. Pete Crawford, Lexington, 37:16
24. John Graf, Dublin (Ohio), 37:17
25. Rob Wahl, Allsont (Mass.), 37:23
Top 10 female finishers
(Overall place in parentheses)
1. (16) Charlotte Imer, Lexington, 36:33
2. (32) Karina Manz, Lexington, 38:23
3. (33) Katherine McClain, La Grange, 38:29
4. (46) Betsy Laski, Lexington, 40:16
5. (70) Linda Mihalec, Richmond, 41:40
6. (71) Varinka Ensminger, Lexington, 41:40
7. (73) Kaitlin Snapp, Lexington, 41:55
8. (79) Caroline Kaplan, Lexington, 42:16
9. (86) Ashlyn Liddle, Waynesburg, 42:34
10. (113) Jennifer Phillips, Lexington, 43:24
Crank wheelchair winners
Male—Greg Queen, Lily, 20:35
Female—Lindley Barker, Winchester, 44:28
Push wheelchair winners
Male—Richard Agee, Brooks, 41:06
Female—Aerelle Jones, Nicholasville, 31:35
Male winners by age group
12 and under—M. Christensen, Lexington, 43:01
13 to 17—James Ward, Lancaster, 37:06
18 to 24—Jonah Starling, Lexington, 37:03
25 to 29—Rob Wahl, Allsont (Mass.), 37:23
30 to 34—Yobani Calvo, North Vernon (Ind.), 39:21
35 to 39—Mike Bernardi, Lexington, 36:46
40 to 44—Joseph Van Fleet, Lexington, 37:07
45 to 49—Kevin Black, London, 38:11
50 to 54—Jeff Golden, Somerset, 40:33
55 to 59—John Conklin, Lexington, 43:05
60 to 64—Bill Whaley, Kettering (Ohio), 44:14
65 to 69—Michael Kennedy, Lexington, 45:04
70 to 74—Floyd Stroud, Corbin, 49:57
75 to 79—Dick Rawdon, Georgetown, 58:37
80 to 84—Bernie Cornett, Nicholasville, 1:27:12
Female winners by age group
12 and under—A. Thomas, Lexington, 48:58
13 to 17—Sydnee Meadows, Somerset, 45:11
18 to 24—Tori Humphrey, Lexington, 45:22
25 to 29—Sydney Freeman, Lexington, 46:10
30 to 34—Kim Schnell, Versailles, 44:24
35 to 39—Meredith Ramage, Lexington, 44:10
40 to 44—Amy Jones, London, 47:26
45 to 49—Andrea Johnson, Lexington, 46:00
50 to 54—Carol Gensheimer, Georgetown, 45:58
55 to 59—Sheila Kalas, Lexington, 47:37
60 to 64—Hopey Newkirk, Mount Sterling, 52:38
65 to 69—Nancy Jeffreys, Louisville, 55:07
70 to 74—Terry Foody, Lexington, 1:11:56
75 to 79—Martha Nevels, Versailles, 1:05:34
80 to 84—Leah Bond, Fort Myers (Fla.), 1:40:08