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Viking Vengeance brings out smiles

The annual road running event and benefit for the Forest Grove cross-country teams is a success

Forest Grove’s past and present in distance running was on display last Thursday evening, when another successful Viking Vengeance road race took place.

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Jenna Jacobson, of Hingham, Mass., poses with daughter Brady, 8, and sons Sawyer, 6, and Dylan, 3, at the conclusion of last Thursday's Viking Vengeance road race in Forest Grove.

A total of 81 participants took to the streets of Forest Grove, finishing either the 5-kilometer run/walk or 10-kilometer run in the eighth edition of this event. And that’s not counting all of the youngsters who took part in the short kids’ run that was staged just prior to the main event on a warm and breezy evening.

Both of the longer races started and finished in front of the Forest Grove School District office on Main Street between 17th and 18th avenues and took participants through parts of Old Town and along the B Street Trail.

The Viking Vengeance serves as a fundraiser for the Forest Grove High School and Forest Grove Youth Running Club programs. The cross-country teams are annually among the most successful at the high school. Both the boys and girls squads are perennial state meet qualifiers, and they swept last October’s inaugural Greater Valley Conference district meet.

Twenty-five-year-old Forest Grove graduate Eric Weinbender, who also ran at Linfield College in McMinnville, bested a field of 64 and reclaimed his crown in the 5K race with a time of 17 minutes, 10 seconds. Weinbender had won the race twice previously but not since 2010.

He was way out front by the end of this one, with former teammate Dusty Klein, 24, who now resides in Boise, Idaho, taking second place in 19:24. Current Viking Daniel Krieger, 16, finished third in 19:42.

The fourth-place finisher was also the top female runner in the race. Laura Lewis, 34, who teaches at the high school, posted a winning time of 20:21. Hillsboro’s Abby Coleman, 27, and Cornelius’ Ashlee Brown, 16, finished second and third, respectively, in 23:41 and 24:33.

Kevin Oppenlander, of Forest Grove, wound up the top masters finisher (age 40 and older) in 21:12, while fellow Forest Grove resident Jennifer Collins was the quickest female masters participant in 25:30.

Former Forest Grove and Pacific University standout Tyler Shipley cruised to victory in the 10K run. Shipley, who enters his senior year at Puget Sound this fall and is a multi-time NCAA Division III national qualifier in both track and cross-country, was timed in 33:00. That topped Forest Grove rising sophomore Max Norman — who raced under the pseudonym of Skinny McLittle — by a little more than two minutes. Yet another Forest Grove resident, Jon Schnorr, 47, rounded out the top three and was the first masters finisher in 38:13.

 - Laurie Bond (235) and Christa Whaley (234) celebrate as they cross the finish line of the eighth annual Viking Vengeance 5K run/walk.

Forest Grove women swept the top three spots in the 10K. Elisa Litwora, 34, knocked off two-time champion Kimmie Heesacker to win the women’s 10K title in 41:41 and finish fourth overall. Heesacker, 18, who graduated from Forest Grove this spring and will run in college for Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls, was clocked in 43:24. Rachelle Krieger, 35, was third in 57:20.