Jake Weisblat sets Thunder Run course record

Jake Weisblat is the overall men's winner with a time of 17:29.

Jake Weisblat broke the Forest Hill Park Thunder Run record by more than a minute with his time of 17:29.1 at the 5k race held July 21. “It’s fun to win,” he said. “The course is nice and flat.”

The 16-year-old is a Cleveland Heights resident and a student at University School. This was his first Thunder Run, but his mother, Gina Weisblat, who placed first in her age category, has run in each of the previous three events. “We heard about it a few years ago when our sons were playing baseball right here at Forest Hills,” she said. “I think it’s a really pretty course. It’s nice to run in your own community.”

This was the first 5k for nine-year-old Veronica Gross. “It was hard,” she said. The rising fourth grader at Canterbury Elementary School said that she never runs and didn’t train for the event. She swims with the Shaker Sharks, a USA Swimming program located in Shaker Heights. She decided to take part in the race just the night before. “My sister Jessie had done it and I wanted to do it,” she said.  

“It couldn’t have been a nicer day,” said Richard King. “I wanted to get out and do something in the community, instead of by myself every time I run.” King said he had seen a poster for the event at Bill’s Dry Cleaners on Lee Road.

Leah Huff pushed her daughter Olivia in a jogging stroller as she ran. Visibly pregnant, Huff is a member of South Euclid-based Velocity Church, which encouraged her to participate as part of a 50-day health and wellness challenge. “We are due in December. We are having another little girl, named Evelyn,” said Huff. “When I’m pregnant, I run about four days per week. Being pregnant, it just gave me a goal to just run a little more.”

She and her husband live in University Heights. “My husband and I have only lived here for three years,” said Huff. “I’ve never been [in Forest Hill Park]. It’s beautiful, it’s nice and shady.”

Race organizer Jim Roosa was pleased with the event’s attendance. This year’s race drew about 65 to 70 runners, he said, “This is really good energy. We get lots of positive feedback from people.” Roosa thanked sponsors Pizza Bogo, Whole Foods, Dick's Sporting Goods, Zagara's Marketplace and Motorcars.

The event benefits a different Heights-based nonprofit every year. Roosa and Jed Koops began the run in 2009 when their church, Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian, held a Big Give challenge in which every congregant was handed $50 and asked to invest it in some way that would help the community.  Forest Hill Church pastor, John Lentz, participates in the race. This year, Lentz placed first in his age category for the second time.

Past races have benefited the Heights Emergency Food Center and Reaching Heights. Proceeds from this year’s event will go to FutureHeights.

“We’re going to keep building it up,” said Roosa, who said they will start planning for next year’s event in January. He said they haven’t yet decided which Heights-based nonprofit will be the beneficiary. “We look for a nonprofit with an active volunteer base,” said Roosa, “We want them to be involved in this. They should be based in the Heights and, preferably, [be a group that] is underserved.”

 “We always have people running the event who are amazed at what is in the park, even though they live around here,” said Roosa. “One of the nice things about doing the event is that we introduce this wonderful resource to people. It’s not your typical big square run, like when you run street races. This curves around a bit, so it is a little more scenic.”

For more race results and information about Thunder Run, visit www.thunderrun.org.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

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Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 12:38 PM, 07.24.2012