Michael Cuke started road racing this year, but running is in his genes.
His mother, Michele, ran the marathon for the Cayman Islands during the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea — a
fact Michele downplays.
“That’s something my kids are always quick to bring up,” said Michele. “I prefer to talk about my college days running for UCLA.”
Clearly, Michael has inherited his mother’s running talent. The 15-year-old Albany resident pulled away from the field by the first mile marker and cruised to almost a two-minute victory at the Crossings 5K Challenge Sunday, Sept. 28, at the Crossings.
“I just did my best,” said Michael, who finished with a winning time of 17:38. “I put everything in God’s hands. He gave me the extra boost I needed.”
Michael took advantage of the mostly flat course through the park to maintain his momentum. By the time he was within a quarter-mile of the finish line behind the Ciccotti Center, there was no one with him except for the Colonie police officer leading him along the course on a bicycle. Rick Munson, a 57-year-old from Prattsville, was the second runner to cross the finish line, and he finished with a time of 19:33.
“When I reached the first mile and saw my time, I decided I had to go for it,” said Michael. “I felt exhausted a little bit at the end, but no one’s ever done anything great without feeling at least a little bit exhausted.”
Michael hasn’t been running road races for very long. Michele said this was her son’s “fourth or fifth race,” and he had only begun working with an area coach. The Team Utopia jersey Michael wore was Michele’s.
“We just discovered that he’s really good at running,” said Michele. “We’ve been putting him in some races, and he’s done very well.”
Michael doesn’t have the benefit of running for a high school team because his parents home school him, but that isn’t stopping him from thinking big.
“He’s looking for a (college) track scholarship,” said Michele. “I’m looking for him to do road races because that’s where I think his strength is, but he wants to run in college.”
If his Crossings Challenge performance is any indication of what he’s capable of doing, Michael Cuke could become one of this region’s elite road racers.
Women’s division champion Estelle Burns also turned in a strong time. The 39-year-old from Troy placed fourth overall with a time of 19:53. Schenectady’s Lynn Hall was second in the women’s standings with a time of 21:12, and Colonie teen Noelle Saxe was third with a time of 21:32.
More than 360 runners and walkers participated in this year’s Crossings Challenge, which served as a fundraiser for the Colonie Youth Center’s childcare programs.
Eighty-one children competed in the Kids Mile race, which followed the 5K race. Hunter Kosich, a 13-year-old from Albany, won the boys title with a time of 6:00, while 8-year-old Bethlehem resident Rylee Davis earned the girls title with a time of 6:15, which was also good enough for second place overall.
Associate editor/sports editor