Matt Blume wins third Popcorn Panic men’s title
By Josh Lichtenfeld Post-Tribune correspondent September 9, 2012 12:12AM
Brent Alexander, (from left) Aaron Crague and Matt Blume celebrate after they were the first three runners to cross the finish line in the Popcorn Panic 5-mile run in downtown Valparaiso, Ind. Saturday September 8, 2012. The run is part of the 34th Annual Valparaiso Popcorn Festival. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
VALPARAISO — Neck-and-neck, down to the very finish, Chicago residents and training partners Matt Blume and Brent Alexander went 1-2 respectively at Saturday’s Popcorn Panic 5-mile run.
Technically Blume’s foot crossed the line first giving him a win on a margin of just .04 seconds with a time of 25:18.7. It was nearly a repeat of his 2011 finish, when Blume also won a close race. But for these friends and often running teammates — this time the duo and third-place finisher Aaron Crague (25:23) all raced for Team Charbonneau — it’s not necessarily a matter of who brings home top honors.
“Brent and I train together all the time in Chicago and Aaron was my old teammate in college (at Valparaiso University), so we’re not out to kill each other,” Blume said after winning his third Panic title.
Though Alexander pushed until the very last stride, he had no problem giving credit to Blume.
“He did most of the work, because it’s windy and I sat behind him,” he said.
Indeed it was a morning event filled with cool winds and temperature, hovering around the mid-60s. So, with perfect weather for most runners, the trio of teammates packed together for much of the course.
But where 2010 Panic winner and Valparaiso High assistant track and cross country coach Crague tailed off a bit — in his return race after missing last year — was in the last portion in the downtown area.
“I couldn’t hold the last mile; I started slipping off,” Crague said.
A consensus between Blume and Crague was that the parity of leading times comes down to their strong training techniques.
“I think we kind of all knew we would be together,” Blume said. “But yeah, training is what kind of sets things apart.”