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Locked gate caused problems in adult 5K,
but Norman Roper still swept to victory

Norman Roper

Norman Roper, 50, of Arlington won the men's 5K and 10K.

Joni Michael

Joni Michael, former Cowtown Marathon winner, won the women's 5K.

Cora Turner

Cora Turner, who's preparing for the Wellstone's White Rock Half Marathon,, won the women's 10K title despite taking a wrong turn and running longer than the 6.2 miles..

Michelle Bach

Michelle Bach, 13, won the youth girls 5K with her PR of 21:42.

Normally, a runner doesn't have to find a way past a locked, closed gate to finish a race, but the leaders in the adult 5K had to find an alternate path before they could reach finish line in the BG Squirrel Run on Saturday (Nov. 10) at Botanic Garden in Fort Worth.

When Taylor Logan, 17, of Mansfield and Norman Roper, 50, were battling for the lead with about three-tenths of a mile to go, they were forced to come to a screeching halt when a locked gate prevented them from entering the under-construction parking lot to the Botanic Garden.

``I turned around and looked at the police officer and said, ``Surely, someone knows about this.'' said a frustrated Logan. ``I just stopped. We had to go all the way around the parking lot and go through trees and stuff to get back on the course.''

Logan said he probably was on pace for a low 16-minute 5K, but he and Roper finished in 18:28 after agreeing to finish together. Roper was awarded first place, though he clearly was unhappy.

``The 5K was a fiasco,'' he said. ``I have been training to run a good 5K and that's what I came here for.''

Some other runners weren't as fortunate and ran almost another mile as they circled around Botanic Garden to reach the finish. Others found a small opening in the fence and a dirt path that almost paralleled the course to finish in about their correct time.

The gate was finally unlocked, which meant smooth sailing many middle- and back-of-the pack in the 5K and for the youth 5K, and the 10K. Roper also won the men's title over the rolling 6.2-mile course in 36:28.8.

Winning the women's 5K title was Joni Michael, 48, in 21:53. Joni is a former Cowtown Marathon winner, when her last name was Dodson. In the 10K, Cora Turner of Alvarado, one of the top women's runners in the area, won the overall women's title in 42:02.2 despite taking a wrong turn and running longer than necessary. She said she's training for the Wellstone's White Rock Half Marathon on Dec. 9. ``There were a lot of turns and not all of them were marked real well,'' she said. She also was virtually by herself as the men's lead runners were well in front and then she was ahead of the next pack. She figures she might have gone about a tenth of a mile out of her way.

In the youth 5K, Dustin Sandoval, 17, of Keller and Michelle Bach, 13, of Keller won their respective titles in 18:04 and 21:42.

Roper ran in high school but didn't run his first road race until he was 28. He has been among the top area runners since moving from Oklahoma a few years ago.

He said the 10K was ``hilly, Nothing real steep, but steep enough, but the temperature was what I like (in the 70s and rising),''

Mark Miller, 29, was trailing, but said ``I wasn't close enough to push him.''

Sandoval, who was among the Elite Track Club members competing, beat his teammate Ruhde, 16, by about 20 seconds. Even though neither had run the 5K course, they had been warned about the steep hill that looms before the 1-mile mark. ``I wasn't looking forward to it,'' Sandoval said.

Bach, also an Elite Track Club runner, also had been warned about the hill, but said her coach, former Cowtown 10K champ Calvin McGill, had told her the hill was at the end of the race. ``So, I ran up it really hard.''

Despite the deception, she still had enough energy to beat her previous PR by about a minute, she said.

Ruhde and Sandoval

Youth 5K runner-up Logan Ruhde, left, and winner Dustin Sandoval.

bg squirrel

BG Squirrel greets some of the smaller participants and families at Saturday's (Nov. 10) race at Botanic Garden in Fort Worth.