With a new course laid out for the Dow Firecracker 4, 262 runners and walkers who took part in the summer race Thursday morning.

That’s a far cry from when the race first started in 1974, which at the time only attracted nine runners. Now in its 45th iteration, Lauren Smith Stroud ran away from the competition in the 4-mile race, clocking in at 23 minutes, 5.07 seconds. Stroud set the women’s record back in 2011 in 22:32.

Overcast skies greeted runners, and humid weather hit Stroud and the rest of the field by the time they started reaching the finish line.

Kiyoshi Akimbo, who moved to the United States seven months ago, finished his first Firecracker 4 and placed first in the male masters at 26:45.7.

“It was a hard run, but I thought I did the best that I could,” the Japan-native said. “The weather here is very similar to my hometown in Japan which is also very humid.”

Angleton 63-year-old Kermit Licklider finished sixth in his 60-69 age group at 48:05.9.

“The run was OK, but it was really warm,” Licklider said. “When I ran yesterday it was a bit cooler, and I thought, hey maybe. But nope.

“I thought the new course really didn’t make much of a difference, especially for a 4-mile run.”

Sam Madenjian, a former Brazoswood Lady Buc soccer player, had a bit of help as her 8-year-old dog, Elise, tagged along. This is an annual run Madenjian and the rest of the family do every year.

“Yes, we are a running family, and we also do the Turkey Trot every year,” Mandenjian said.

Also finishing the Firecracker 4 were Alex Madenjian in 44:53.3, Jo Madenjian, 43:56.8, and Ed Mandenjian, 31:33.7.

As for Sam and Elise, they had to cut their run down to 2 miles.

“In the beginning, she is leading me, especially when there are people all around us,” Sam said. “But once the crowd starts to spread out, she got a bit tired. Today she was definitely sprinting at the beginning, and I thought, nope we cannot keep that pace.”

Sam, a 2018 Brazoswood High School graduate, and Elise clocked in at 22:09.8.

Angleton’s Nathaniel Outcalt didn’t break any personal records but did finish second in the 40-49 age category at 34:06.05.

“I didn’t run at all the last four or five days since last Friday and there were some runners from our running group, so when they passed me I tried holding out for each one for about half a mile and hold their pace,” Outcalt said. “But I did get to sprint hard at the end.”

If there was one thing he enjoyed, it was the new course.

“It was very easy to follow with very few turns and a lot of straightaways,” he said. “It wasn’t that hard to get lost, but I am sure it happened to somebody. Last year, I stopped for water and this year I just didn’t do that.”

In the 4-mile run, the top three female runners were Stroud (23:05.7), Amanda Price (27:41.3) and Madison Habeck (28:04.3); Female Masters were Linda Young (32:16.4), Suzanne Dillinger (33:00.9) and Karen Parenica (33:50.2).

Male overall winners were Weston Careers (24:12), Sam Whitmarsh (24:25.3) and Edmund Franklin (24:28.9); Masters were Akimoto (26:45.7), Hugh Leidlein (27:03.3) and Clint Johnson (27:54.6).

Top three age female groups: 14 and younger, Kayla Goff (34:28.3), McKenzie Whipple (34:29) and Laysa Stanford (36:18.8); 15 to 19, Anna Tree (31:20.6), Lilly Cole (33:41.7) and Lyssa Sargent (38:14.8); 20-29, Kris Rugloski (28:40.4), Leandra Warren (31:08.4) and Emma Davis (33:06.6); 30-39, Courtney Thompson (31:22.8), Cassandra Zamoralez (31:37.5) and Tiffany Whipple (31:47.6); 40-49, Rebecca Watts (37:37.9), Kim Forrest (38:28.2) and Carolyn Ross (40:49.5); 50-59, Susan Smith (33:49.5), Jane Leidlein (34:41.9) and Leslie Leidlein (34:41.9); 60-69, Katherine Regis (34:11.9), Janice Shineldecker (38:32.8) and Rosa Reyes (39:01.4).

Top three male age groups: 14 and younger, Trevor Kuhlman (29:56.1), Peter Fontenot (30:58.1) and John Suan (31:09.4); 15-19, Riley Kuhlman (24:42.2), Dominik Mayo (26:18.8) and Damon Vasquez (29:49.2); 20-29, Benjamin Unruh (26:00.8), Yudai Suzuki (27:19.6) and Jeremy Weinstock (27:24.3); 30-39, Michael Land (26:55.9), John Mares (28:08.9) and Kenny Stanford (28:26.3); 40-49, David Gonzales (31:08.9), Outcalt (34:06.5) and Brian Clemons (36:17.5); 50-59, Takatoshi Kurosawa (28:02), Mark Price (28:09.3) and Bill Benson (31:20.4); 60-69, Lonnie Hazlitt (32:01.1), Brian Walther (39:07.4) and Mark Wales (40:36.4); 70 and older, Lenord Burns (34:34.2) and Ruben Solis (38:52.9).

Joel Luna is sports editor for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0160 or at

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