Kenny Stice of Plano, Texas, who has been running for five years, had run only one 10K — an open event at Rhodes College — this year.
He gained a sponsor, The Sporty Runner, in Conway and surged to victory Saturday morning in the Toad Suck Daze 10K.
In one of the closest races in history, Stice, a sophomore at the University of Central Arkansas, edged veteran Little Rock runner Mark Ferguson by .22 of a second (33:38.24 to 33:38.46).
Stice was a former cross country runner at Plano High School and UCA. He’s studying political science and history at UCA with a goal of eventually going to law school.
The race was run on a new course beginning at Conway’s John McConnell Stadium under sunny but cool conditions at the start of the race.
“The weather was pretty ideal,” he said. “The course was nice.”
Tia Stone of Searcy was the female winner of the 10K for the third straight year. She completed the course in 38:08.89.
Eric Goodwin of McRae was the male winner of the 5K in 18:11.62. Kem Thomas of Searcy was the female 5K winner in 19:01.34.
The two races attracted 1,215 runners, down about 100 from last year. Organizers said several participants who had planned on running the race were involved with disaster relief in either Mayflower or Vilonia.
Complete results of the Toad Suck races can be found at www.macsrts.com.