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Thunderstorm 5K: Runners kock off 5K in support of Discovery Canyon Campus

A field of 307 runners charged away from the starting line at the Thunderstorm 5K at Discovery Canyon Campus on Saturday.

Thunderstorm 5K, Gallery 1
Thunderstorm 5K, Gallery 2
Kids Fun Run Gallery by Dee Budden
Start of the Thunderstorm 5K
Interview women's race winner Lori Stich
Interview men's race winner Mark VanderMeer

Mark VanderMeer took an early lead and held on to win the Thunderstorm 5K on Saturday at Discovery Canyon Campus in Colorado Springs.

A math teacher at Discovery Canyon, VanderMeer, 26, hit the finish line in 17 minutes, 11 seconds.

"I was four seconds slower than last year, but it was a great effort, perfect conditions," he said. "Overall, it's all downhill, but it doesn't feel like it."

Lori Stich, 41, of Colorado Springs, won the women's race in 20:00.

The race, which drew a field of 307, is a fundraiser for the Counseling Department, Athletic Boosters, and Student Scholarships at Discovery Canyon Campus.

VanderMeer said he may have had an advantage, but he had to work to beat second-place finisher Gerald Romero who finished in 17:57. Michael Stephens, 28, of Colorado Springs, finished third.

"I work at the school here, so I get the privilege of making the course," VanderMeer said. "So I know every square inch of it. I had no excuse but to go out there and give a good effort today."

Stich was fourth overall. She has three children who attended Discovery Canyon Campus, two who were cross country runners there.

"We've cheered for the kids in past seasons and today we got to experience the course just like they did," she said. "We're a little older, though."

Kaleen Fry, 44, placed second among the women in 24:23. Hannah Millsap was third in 25:02.

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