Notebook: Iowa connections highlight men's Health Solutions 8K

American runners with Iowa roots take the top three

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The last time an American-born runner won the Health Solutions 8K the race was still called the Alliant Energy 8K and the new millennium was three years away.

An American runner, Brogan Austin of Madison, Wis., crossed the line first on Monday, making him the first American to win the event since 1997. The 19-year span saw several Kenyan runners win the race, as well as repeat as winners.

Monday’s race may have made history, however, as the top three finishers all had Iowa roots.

Austin grew up in Boone and ran for Drake University. Nick Holmes, the runner-up, a native of Peoria, Ill., ran for the University of Iowa. Third-place finisher Kevin Lewis is from Ottumwa, and also had a decorated career at the University of Iowa.

Lewis said he and Austin have raced each other for years before Monday’s 8K. Moreover, they all have some sort of connection to each other.

“This race was really competitive this year, I think more than last year, so I was really happy with where I finished there,” Lewis said. “I know Brogan and Nick pretty well. (Holmes) was my roommate a few years ago.”

Austin finished 11 seconds ahead of Holmes and 21 ahead of Lewis. Holmes led early in the race, with Austin taking over at the turnaround point.

The Iowa influx has never happened before, race director Colin Flynn said.

“I was kind of surprised, some of those Kenyans were of pretty good quality,” Flynn said. “From what I heard on the course, they were together up through the turnaround, and then partway back, and then those guys dropped them. It was a race between those two guys.

“It was awesome to see.”

As quick as the race was, that an Iowan contingent happened to sweep the medals on the Fourth of July was not lost on Holmes.

“It’s Fourth of July. It’s just cool to come in and do that, you know, all from Drake and the University of Iowa, it was pretty cool,” Holmes said.

HONORING A SISTER

Phillip Huber of Cedar Rapids carried the flag for six years. When he decided not to run in the Fifth Season races, his daughter picked up where he left off.

Olivia Huber, 16, of Waller, Texas, has carried an American Flag with a smaller Air Force flag on it the last two years. She makes the trip to visit her dad, and runs the race with the flag as a tribute to her older sister, who is in the Air Force on active duty.

“It’s kind of been a tradition, he used to carry it all the time, and I did it one year, and he didn’t do it this year,” Olivia Huber said.

FLYNN DONE AS DIRECTOR

After two years as the assistant race director and six as the race director, Flynn said Monday’s Health Solutions 8K was his last as the man in charge. A new race director has yet to be named, but Flynn’s last event went better than he could have asked for.

“Just getting everything to start on time is always a challenge,” Flynn said. “The weather was oddly perfect.

He said he is looking forward to being just a runner again.

“I’ve been doing it for eight years, and I was on the board of Corridor Running for a time,” Flynn said. “It’s just kind of time to step back a little bit. It gets to be a grind.”

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