Nobody barreled through the finish line quite as fast or determined as 63-year-old John Sudduth at Sunday's Journey 5 Mile Challenge.
With his grandchildren doing their best to balance poster-board "Go Grandpa Go" signs in front of them, the Colorado Springs veterinarian zipped past the dirt-line finish, running for another 50 meters until he hit the parking lot at Bear Creek Regional Park West.
Eventually, the knee-mobbing hugs from 6-year-old Julia and 3-year-old Jonathan slowed him down.
"I want to be a positive influence for my grandkids. Once they knew I was running this race, they wanted to run . just like grandpa," said Sudduth, whose grandchildren ran in their first road race ever (in the half-mile race that preluded the main event). "I see obesity every day, and I want to be part movement to stop it. I see it in the pet population and with people who bring pets in, and want to be part of the change."
Sudduth, who started running competitively for the first time in August, said his newfound passion is in hopes of becoming that influence for the people around him.
And while he admits that the pavement isn't always easy on his legs, or his feet for that matter, he said it's all worth it to see his youngest family members beginning life on a healthy note.
"The biggest thrill for me was seeing my grandkids sprinting into the finish during the half-mile race," he smiled. "I mean they were flying. My wife was behind them trying to catch up to them at the end there."
In the main event, Sudduth finished in 48 minutes and 12 seconds - good enough for 44th of 112 racers.
In front of him, and everybody else, Peter Maksimow ran sub-6 minute miles throughout the twisting and hilly course on his way to a winning time of 29:49.
The 35-year-old, who finished second place in the Fall Series a few months back, beat out Seth Kelly (31:49) and Gerald Romero (32:34) in the inaugural run of Journey 5 Mile Challenge.
The win, however, took a backseat.
Comfortable 50-degree temperature and the backdrop of the mountains with family and friends lining the course made Sunday's run a true success, Maksimow said.
"This is what I love doing. I love the community and just getting out here and enjoying nature," he said before he smirked. "I have a pretty addictive personality so I'm glad I got into this instead of something else."
Jessica Harper, meanwhile, won the women's race in 38:24.