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PCHS student wins as Race for the Fallen 5K lights up Columbus night

Mitchell Brown prepares to cross the finish line to win Saturday's Race for the Fallen 5K in Columbus.

Mitchell Brown prepares to cross the finish line to win Saturday’s Race for the Fallen 5K in Columbus.

Mitchell Brown decided to take up running slightly more than a year ago. It has proven to be a good decision.

The Polk County High School sophomore won his first road race on Saturday night, taking top honors in the Race for the Fallen 5K GLOW Run & Walk held in downtown Columbus as part of the nationwide series that benefits the Police Benevolent Foundation and its work with law enforcement officers and their families.

More than 500 runners donned a wide array of glow-in-the-dark gear, largely blue in keeping with the event’s theme, for a night run over a three-mile course that began and ended in front of the Polk County Courthouse. Music played, the scent of barbecue filled the air and runners of all ages did their part to help raise funds for a worthy cause.

None of those runners ran faster than Brown, who finished 35 seconds ahead of Tryon attorney Bailey Nager with a time of 19:05. Polk County High student Eli Hall placed third at 20:00. Complete race results

Rachel Aubert won the female division and finished fourth overall with a time of 20:50.

“This is the first road race I’ve won,” Brown said. “It’s nice to do it locally.

“I ran a little bit slower than I thought. It’s tough when you have to run with nobody around. I was by myself a lot.”

The course took runners out of Columbus via Peak Street, a gentle descent that finally ended when runners turned onto Walker Road. That began an uphill climb in the course’s second mile before runners turned onto Blanton Street, then returned to the downtown area before turning once more onto Ward Street for the sprint to the courthouse.

“That second mile was tough,” Brown said of the Walker Road climb. “Otherwise, the course was pretty good.

“I started running last year when I did indoor track. I found out I was a runner.”

Glowing in the night, the field for Saturday's Race for the Fallen 5K makes the turn onto Peak Street at the start of the race.

Glowing in the night, the field for Saturday’s Race for the Fallen 5K makes the turn onto Peak Street at the start of the race.

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