BENNINGTON -- A group of runners began their morning with a bang Saturday by participating in the tenth annual Bennington Battle Day 5K.

This year, 109 runners participated in the event, which benefits the Friends of the Bennington Battle Monument, up from 91 participants last year. The five-kilometer, or just over three-mile, race circled the monument before heading down Walloomsac Road toward the airport, then back to the finish line at the monument. The start of the race was marked by the firing of a cannon. Runners who registered the day of the race paid $15 to participate.

The first overall finisher was Victor Velazquez, 23, a rising senior from Southern Vermont College, with a time of 17:56. Velazquez, a business administration and management major and captain of the men’s cross country team, is originally from Los Angeles. Velazquez, who said that he began running four or five years ago, tries to participate in as many community races as he can, when he isn’t training or running for SVC. Velazquez finished second in 2013, with a time of 17:29. Last year’s winner, Tim Van Orden, who finished with a time of 17:02, did not participate this year.

The top three finishers in each age group received their choice of a mug or a glass, and everyone who participated in the race received a T-shirt. The top three men were Velazquez, Marc Brandmeyer, 19, with a time of 18:10, and Aaron Bishop, 42, with a time of 18:42.


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The top three finishing women were Lori Crotts, 26, with a time of 20:00 (good for seventh overall), Sarah Umphlett, 12, with a time of 20:30, and Daniele Cherniak, 52, with a time of 22:20. Shelby Whitman, 18, finished just one second behind Cherniak, good for fourth place among women and 19th place overall.

Runners of all ages participated in the 5K, from several 8-year-olds to 84-year-old Ed Doucette, who finished with a very respectable time of 38:31. The fastest finishing under-10 runner was Samuel Umphlett, 9, who finished in 35th place with a time of 25:33, while the fastest over-60 runner was Mark Donovan with a time for 22:14, good for 17th overall.

After the conclusion of the 5K, children were able to run a friendly half-mile race around Monument Circle. The beginning of that race was marked by the firing of a musket.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter@DerekCarsonBB