Douglas Henning was already as fast as lighting when he won the 2nd Annual Santa Paula Police Memorial 5K with a time of 18.40.9 minutes, but the Ventura resident really had to put on the steam for the last block to overtake and outpace Carissa Rodriguez, a 12-year-old Isbell Middle School student
Rodriguez’s finish time was 18:49.3, almost 15 minutes ahead of the runner that placed second in the Female 19 and Under race category.
The May 10 walk or run 5K drew hundreds of participants to the Santa Paula Police Memorial where the competition started and ended with plenty of scenery and historical architecture in between.
Before the crack of the starting gun was heard SPPD Reserve Lt. Brad Tallent said he was pleased with the turnout at the event that kicked off National Police Week, designed to pay tribute to all law enforcement officers and their families.
Again this year the net proceeds from the Santa Paula Police Memorial 5K benefited the families of two Santa Paula officers- Reserve Officer David Bartlett and SPPD Officer Kimberly Hemminger-tragically killed in separate 2012 off-duty vehicle accidents that occurred February 15 and July 22 respectively.
While these officers did not die in the line-of-duty, they left a void in the SPPD and are deeply missed by their families and colleagues; the Santa Paula Reserve Officers formed a foundation to help the families of these officers.
Tallent noted members of both families were not only attending but also participating in the 5K that drew members of law enforcement agencies from throughout the county.
“Dave’s wife Jennifer and Kim’s mother Sharon are in the 5K and Wallace, Kim’s father,” would fire the starter pistol.
“We have a good crowd here,” said Tallent as the runners lined up. “The weather could not have been better... I’m happy.”
Married couple Denis Buckle and Mary Beth East were a team; it was Mary Beth’s second memorial 5K but, said Denis, “I’m a newcomer... “
“It’s for a great cause,” noted Mary Beth.
During the opening ceremony Police Chief Steve McLean said Mayor Rick Cook, a retired SPPD Sgt., was in the crowd.
McLean noted the significance of the SPPD Police Memorial and aswell as the National Police Memorial honoring all those that lost their life in the line of duty.
The Rev. Jenny Crosswhite offered an invocation before it was announced that Wallace Hemminger would fire the starter pistol.
“It’s a nice turnout today,” Wallace said after the runners and walkers stepped out for the 5K.
He said the family appreciates the support of the community as well as those law enforcement officers that served with Kimberly and volunteered at the event, including SPPD Explorers and Citizens Patrol.
When asked Wallace said Kimberly’s beloved horse Scooby Do, her friend and partner in the Ventura County Sheriff’s and Santa Paula Police Mounted Patrols, had passed at age 15. Cammie, Kimberly’s dog, is doing fine at 7 years old.
Lynda Fulford of Thousand Oaks was walking the 5K with Joleen and Jack Stethem of Fillmore, parents of noted photographer and SPPD Reserve Officer Brian Stethem.
“Joleen was first in her age category last year,” said Lynda, a former Santa Paula Chronicle reporter and now California Lutheran University’s associate vice president of university relations, where Brian Stethem is an associate art professor.
Joleen and Jack placed 2nd and 3rd in their respective categories and Gabriel Salazar of Santa Paula placed 2nd in his Male 55 to 59 category; at 18.58.4 minutes the winner Terry Clark was the only other runner in the race to stay under 19 minutes.
Salazar, running with the Limoneira Co. team, said next year he’ll do better than his 22:07.5 time: “My goal next year,” he said with a laugh, “is 21 minutes!”
Jim Horn, a former SPPD Officer, said his wife Lori was running the race: “She’s been training for it, it’s on her bucket list,” Horn noted as he stood near the finish line.
Following the race the excited 2nd place overall winner Carissa was surrounded by her equally excited family including parents Judith and Victor Rodriguez.
She started racing by accident said Judith, who noted during soccer practices and games Carissa would be “running up and down the field... I said ‘She’s a runner’ not a soccer player.”
In fact, Carissa had led the 5K in first place only falling behind the last block.
First Place Overall winner Henning, a 39-year-old employee of the Santa Paula Unified School District, said the 5K was his first race win since he was a teenager.
“I came and ran out here six times to practice,” and Henning, cheered on by his girlfriend Joy Suggs of Santa Paula, he said he enjoyed the 5K.
“It’s good energy, a good event,” that included the block long race that pitted him against Carissa.
“She was awesome,” and Henning said he knew he had to outrun the youngster now, “because I know next year I won’t be able to beat her!”