No rabbits to chase, James Roach established a torrid pace early and never looked back Saturday.
Just as he did a year ago in the rain, the 31-year-old Auburn man ran freely and in front of the crowd to capture the 34th annual Christmas Rush Fun Run/Walk on a chilly, party sunny morning at Hogan Park at Russell Road.
Roach dominated the pack, repeating his 10-kilometer title by stopping the clock at 34 minutes, 13 seconds – a little quicker than his finish last year when he covered the same relatively flat, 6.2-mile loop course in 34:35.
“Nice not having the rain this year,” said Roach, who reached the finish line nearly a minute sooner than the runner-up, Seattle’s 47-year-old Ben Savage (35:04). “I had some help at the front (of the race) last year with a few (swift) kids up there … but I didn’t see anybody around me after a half-mile (today).”
Roach kicked it into high gear, something he knows how to do.
Roach, who competes for the Seattle Running Club, is a former All-Academic Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross country performer at Central Washington University. Roach competed at Highline College and coached in the area.
He frequently competes in road races, from half-marathons to full marathons, where he has posted a personal-best 2:42. He also enjoys competing on the oval come spring.
Roach, a health and physical education instructor at Madrona Elementary School in SeaTac, actively trains on rugged terrain with the Cascade Orienteering Club.
“I felt good,” Roach said of his repeat win on Kent pavement, a course that included the Interurban Trail, which he is very familiar with. “I like running here.”
Seattle’s David McCulloch, 46, was third (35:29), followed by a pair of Kent runners – Carlos Zaldivar, 24, (36:43) and Maamoon Sulah, 17, (36:49).
Puyallup’s Ruth Perkins, 36, was the women’s overall winner in 36:59, which was sixth overall. Port Orchard’s Kristi Houk, 32, was second (39:26) and Seattle’s Julia Reade, 36, was third (44:26).
In the 5K, Seattle’s Tyler Flannery, 22, captured the men’s title (15:56), followed by Issaquah’s Jake Knoblich, 18, (16:32) and Kent’s Eric Brill, 28, (16:40).
For the women, Renton’s Brigette Takeuchi, 18, was the 5K winner (18:31). Stanwood’s Rachel Cundy, 22, was second (19:24) and Renton’s Dhamanpreet Kaur, 16, was third (19:24).
The 5K race had 941 runners, the 10K field posted 285 finishers.
Kent Parks, Recreation and Community Services hosted the run, a Kent tradition.
For more information and full race results, see kentwa.gov/arts/funruns.