Kent Gutches’ helpfulness paid off in some good karma during Saturday’s Britt Woods Firehouse Run.
Gutches and his wife Terrie were among volunteers to assist chalking out the 6.2-mile course earlier in the week.
Gutches, a previous runner-up and a regular participant in the event, used his knowledge in the two-lap format to catch last year’s champion Dick Boothe over the challenging hills of the Jacksonville Woodlands and post his first victory in the 16th running of the annual cross country race.
The 57-year-old Central Point resident was the only runner to finish under one hour, with a time of 58 minutes and 49 seconds in clear and sunny conditions.
First-timer Truett Bostwick, a 15-year-old South Medford High sophomore, rallied late to finish second (60:20).
Grif Wilder, 55, of Gold Hill — coming off his age-group win in the Pear Blossom Run — was third (60:46).
Cave Junction’s Boothe, who received a one-minute penalty because of his previous victory, placed fourth (61:43). And another high-schooler, 17-year-old Luke Ramirez, was fifth (62:50).
The Britt Woods Firehouse Run is scored under the unique Dipsea handicap system, based on age and sex. The concept originated in Mill Valley, California.
“I thought Dick Boothe had a real good chance of repeating,” said race director Doug Naversen of Jacksonville. “He had a nice lead at the four-mile mark but Kent reeled him in.
“I was impressed with the kid from South Medford High (Bostwick),” added Naversen. “He had a nice kick with some spring in his step.”
Naversen began the handicap race as a way to showcase the Jacksonville Woodlands in addition to being a fundraiser for the Jacksonville fire department.
“I started it to show people we have such a great resource,” said Naversen. “People come from all over the valley to train in Jacksonville because of the groomed trails and challenging hills.”
The first female finisher was 53-year-old Elena Meyer of Central Point.
The running Jantzer family of Phoenix — father Jason and sons Elliott and Kevin — all placed in the top 14.
The Gutches — Kent and Terrie — were the fastest couple (first and 17th).
“Because of the Fourth of July weekend, I thought our turnout would be down, but I was pleased with the field of 100 overall,” said Naversen. “It’s a tough course with three demanding hills on the first loop and one on the second. The hills don’t quit.”
TOP 25 FINISHERS: 1, Kent Gutches, 58 minutes, 49 seconds; 2, Truett Bostwick, 60:20; 3, Grif Wilder, 60:46; 4, Dick Boothe, 61:43; 5, Luke Ramirez, 62:50; 6, Elena Meyer, 64:22; 7, Elliott Jantzer, 64:25; 8, Larry Rubenstein, 64:40; 9, Kevin Jantzer, 64:42; 10, Buel Jon, 64:49; 11, Levi Jackson, 64:54; 12, Mike Davis, 64:56; 13, Shari Eaton, 65:13.
14, Jason Jantzer, 65:22; 15, Chuck Whiteley, 66:02; 16, David Monroe, 66:21; 17, Terrie Gutches, 66:23; 18, Karen Walrafen, 66:44; 19, Allison Burke, 67:01; 20, Justin Rosas, 67:03; 21, David Johnson, 67:10; 22, Charles Hodge, 68:15; 23, Ronald Wright, 68:21; 24, Christen Mansuetti, 69:05; 25, Jim Sanders, 70:19.
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480 or firstname.lastname@example.org