PEORIA — While the professional runners were pushing for top positions in the Steamboat Classic 4-mile race, a pair of world records were set Saturday by a young brother duo from Morton.
Nine-year-old Christian Harris and his 8-year-old brother Noah, who have only been running for about a year, shattered world records in their respective age groups at the road race on Peoria’s Downtown streets.
Christian finished the 4-mile event in 26 minutes, 19 seconds — bettering the previous 9-year old mark of 29:22. Noah crossed the finish line in 27:12, chopping more than a minute off the prior world best for 8-year olds of 28:39.
“We had no idea they would do it and they did it,” said proud father Paul Harris, who grew up in the Springfield area. “It’s pretty awesome.”
The Harris family moved to Morton from Miami a year ago, and the children were competing in their first 4-mile race.
What did Christian think of being a record-breaker?
“Crazy,” he said. “It was fun — and hot.”
The two boys attend Jefferson Elementary School in Morton.
CHEERFUL HELP: The Metamora High School cheerleaders were in full force once again, with about 40 members volunteering.
The Redbirds flock, led by coaches Lisa Doty and Jennifer Jewell, were the largest single group of volunteers at the 44th running of the Steamboat.
“They met at the high school at 5:15 this morning,” Jewell said. “But they all had smiles on their faces and they’ve done a great job today.”
Varsity cheerleaders handed out medals and the junior varsity passed out water bottles near the finish line.
“A service component to cheerleading is important to Lisa and I,” said Jewell, who before last year ran in the race. “We feel it’s important for our girls to feel the value of giving back. We’re cheerleaders, we’re supposed to be cheering on the people who are doing great things in our community and this is a great way to do that."
Steamboat race director Phillip Lockwood is hoping to get more high school athletic teams to volunteer at the event in years to come. For each group that participates, Steamboat plans to make a donation back to the school’s program.
NEW FUNNEL: There was a new design for the starting line of this year's Steamboat races. It was considerably more narrow than it used to be.
"The concept is that by creating a funnel into the starting line, and then making it wide beyond it, it eases the flow for people," Lockwood said. "So they basically walk up to the starting line and can start running as they cross.
"It's twice the width behind the starting line as behind it, and it frees up the flow."
Another change this year was how the results were calculated.
"All of the results this year are calculated based on each person crossing the starting line," Lockwood said "So all is based on what they call chip time.
"The top 25 will be based on gun time, which is essentially the same as their chip time. But they'll all be in front, and then it should make a much more easy flow once they cross the starting line."
AERIAL VIEWS: For the second straight year, Neil Larimore provided video footage of the Steamboat Classic races from an eye in the sky.
Larimore is a certified drone pilot, and provided the aerial footage of the event for the second straight year, posting it on YouTube.
"Last year I did ground photography, and just did the YouTube video for fun," he said. "This year, Morgan Grigsby (the registrar for the event) hired me specifically for the videography with the drone."
Larimore also has to deal with some restrictions when using the drone.
"I can't be over crowds with the drone, so I have to back up and have to be on the side," he said. "I'll be doing the start in front of the crowd (near the corner of Adams and Main downtown), and as soon as the crowd starts, I'm going to back up as it goes by and turn down Jefferson so I won't be over them."
LONGTIME STARTER: Stu Regnier was in his familiar post at the Steamboat Classic on Saturday morning, waving the flag to start the event.
"I've been to all 44 races," said Regnier, a retired principal from Columbia Middle School. "I ran the first few, and then about 38 years ago, Steve Shostrom (the original Steamboat race director) gave me the flag and said, 'Start the race.'
"So, I've probably been starting it 35 or 38 years now. I've been very fortunate, and get to see people I only see once a year here."
Stan Morris can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StanMorrisPJS. Johnny Campos can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Tout and Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.