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BIG SPLASH

LAKE WYLIE -- The 16th annual Lake Wylie Splash Dash offered up a home course advantage for its fastest runners, as well as a record crowd nearing 350 participants.

"That's the most ever," said sponsor Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce's president Susan Bromfield. "What you've seen is it really becoming a family friendly event, and that's what's made the difference. You see people with strollers, people with dogs. Of course we have to respect the serious runners and let them go first."

In total 263 runners faced off for the 10K and 5K competitions to go along with 5K walkers rounding out the field. The first to come in were familiar faces in Lake Wylie, and at Camp Thunderbird where the race ended. David Estabrock, 23, is a Massachusetts native but also a Thunderbird counselor this summer, came in at 18:24 to win the 5K.

Which came as some surprise to camp vice president of camping services Andy Kane, who thought he worked his staff harder than that during the week.

"They worked their tails off," Kane said. "He's really got some stamina to do that."

The first woman to cross the line was Marcie Tsiukes, 40, of Lake Wylie. In her second year running the event, Tsiukes bumped up her finish by one position to take the 5K title with a time of 23:22.

"They do a great job running the race," she said. "I've run a couple of other places, and this one runs smoothly."

Winning the 10K titles were Alejandro Arreola and Emily Schmitt, both of Charlotte, with times of 36:48 and 46:42 respectively. In all, runners came from dozens of towns from Lake Wylie, Belmont, Charlotte, Clover, Tega Cay, York, Fort Mill, Rock Hill and Gastonia to Sioux City, Iowa, Martinsville, Va., Bat Cave, N.C. and Redondo Beach, Calif.

Some runners enjoyed themselves so much they crossed the finish line twice, like Allen Fetters who returned to the course to push his family across.

"I ran the 5K and they did the walk, then I came back up the last hill to get them and finish," he said.

Estabrock, with a good working knowledge of the area from his work at Thunderbird, said the course was challenging, but fair.

"It was hillyish, but it was a good mix of the down with the up," he said.

Even with the record turnout Saturday, Bromfield hopes the event will help even more people to add the event to their calendars in 2010.

"It was a really good day," she said. "The weather was good. The course was beautiful. Conditions were good. Everything about it was nice."

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