Walker Elrod sets new 5K record in Bainbridge

Published 6:10 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Grace Christian Academy Sophomore Walker Elrod ran a 15:32 5k at the ASICS Classic Invitational over the weekend, making him the fastest cross country runner in recorded Bainbridge history. 

“I work hard, so I’m happy this happened,” Elrod said. “I’m glad I did it this early in the season so I can still progress through the season and get better and faster.” 

Elrod said he felt good throughout the race but didn’t know he was on a record-breaking pace until the final stretch of the course. 

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“When I first came around the final turn, I couldn’t see the first two digits of the clock,” Elrod said. “All it said was :15, :16. I didn’t know if it was saying 16:16 or 15:16… I saw the 15 and I was still going fast, but I was happy with my time.”

Elrod finished the race in 23rd place, moving up 27 spots from his starting position of 50th. Elrod’s mother, Samantha Elrod-Rentz, said she was keeping track of Elrod in anticipation of his finish.

“I was counting the people coming in,” Elrod Rentz said. “We were wanting 15:45, so that was big.”

Elrod’s grandmother, Terri Elrod, was in Kentucky the morning of the race but made it to town that afternoon to celebrate her grandson.

“He called me, and he said, ‘Did you hear what my time was?’” Terri said. “I said, ‘I did. What do you want?’”

Elrod broke the previous record of 15:56, set by Bainbridge High School runner Poncherella Leonard. He said it’s a full circle moment breaking Leonard’s record.

“When I was younger and joined the cross country team, I asked, ‘So, what’s a good time?’” Elrod said. “They were like, ‘Well, this one kid named Poncherella, he’s the fastest, and it’s never going to get better. He’s the fastest ever and the best to ever do it.’” Now, when that conversation comes up… My name’s going to get brought up.”