Yuri van der Heijden says his best running days are behind him. With a family that includes two young kids, he hardly has the time to stay in shape.
A supposed relaxing family vacation reminded him he hasn't lost it just yet.
The former Furman University runner finished in 17 minutes, 4 seconds to win the fifth annual Run for Ret 5K by 37 seconds Saturday morning at Hilton Head Prep. Cameron Aly of St. Louis took second, and two-time defending champion Brian Knapp of Hilton Head Island placed third. Hilton Head Island's Amy Kelderhouse was the top female finisher with a time of 21:27.
Knapp said he has been fighting a stress fracture in his leg since running in the Boston Marathon earlier this summer, and van der Heijden took advantage, winning the 5K race a year after taking second.
"I'm a has-been," van der Heijden joked. "In the college days, that would've been a walk through the park. These days, that (time) is pretty good for me."
Van der Heijden, a Nashville native, is vacationing with his family on Hilton Head Island for the second consecutive Labor Day weekend. He signed up for the event, he said, because the proceeds are donated to a good cause.
Suzanne and Rich Thomas started the race five years ago in honor of their son, Ret, a 15-year-old former Hilton Head Prep student who died of Ewing's Sarcoma, a form of pediatric cancer, in December 2000.
The Thomases also run an annual Ret Memorial Basketball Tournament. The proceeds of both events are donated to families who have been affected by pediatric cancer.
"It means everything to us," said Suzanne Thomas. "It was what our son wanted. He wanted us to help kids and their families, and it's what we're doing."
A wide range of runners participated in Saturday's event with 103.1-FM The Drive broadcasting live from Hilton Head Prep. CrossFit Hilton Head entrants lifted weights before embarking on the course through Sea Pines Forest Preserve and again before crossing the finish line.
Bluffton High School, Hilton Head High and Hilton Head Prep brought portions of their varsity cross country teams.
Bluffton's Josh Tierney took first among the high school runners, finishing fourth overall with a time of 18:33. Bobcats runner Scottie House was the first high school girl to cross the finish line with a time of 22:31, just more than a minute behind the day's top overall female.
"I did a lot of miles this summer to try to improve my times," Tierney said. "I'm expecting to have a good year. ... I didn't have the time I wanted today, but it's early in the year, so there's a long way to go."
Run for Ret 5K, preliminary results
Note: Full results can be found at gotrisports.com.
Overall male -- 1. Yuri van der Heijden, Nashville, 17:04, 2. Cameron Aly, St. Louis, 17:41, 3. Brian Knapp, Hilton Head Island, 17:55
Overall female -- 1. Amy Kelderhouse, Hilton Head Island, 21:27, 2. Kathryn Gerke, Kennesaw, Ga., 22:16, 3. Scottie House, Bluffton High, 22:31.
Age winners -- Male 10-and-under: Sam Gilman, 21:21; female 10-and-under: Tori Herman, 26:58; male 11-19: Bradley Blaho, 20:53; female 11-19: Kelsey Lauerer, 23:39, male 20-29: Cameron Aly, 17:41; female 20-29: Amy Kelderhouse, 21:27; male 30-39: Yuri van der Heijden, 17:04; female 30-39: Christina McCarty, 23:20; male 40-49: Kurt Smith, 21:07; female 40-49: Harriet Pullitzer, 26:00; male 50-59: Tom Henz, 22:21; female 50-59: Susan Henz, 26:23; male 60-69: Fred Corpuz, 22:39; female 60-69: Rosemary Ciliento, 30:48; male 70-and-over: Thomas Carroll, 36:52; female 70-and-over: Joanne Barthman, 46:15.