Kirtland's Johnny Sayle wins men's Johnnycake Jog

·3 min read

Jul. 10—His third five-mile race proved to be the charm as Johnny Sayle crossed the line first at the Johnnycake Jog on July 10.

It marked the second week in a row the Kirtland alumni crossed the line first in a road race, as he did the same in the Captains Grand Slam 5K on July 3.

Sayle crossed the line in 25:48 while he set a fast pace with a 5:10 mile to hold off the likes of Painesville's Andrew Taylor (26:11) and Dayton's Matt Lemon (26:27), who finished second and third respectively.

Rather than enter the 5K race that was offered like he did the week prior, Sayle enjoyed his time in the five-mile event the year prior and wanted to compete in the event again this year.

For the second weekend in a row, it's Johnny Sayle across the line first, this time in the 5 miler @kirtlandsports @NHPreps pic.twitter.com/f1HFN5bqzI

— Ben Hercik (@BHercikNH) July 10, 2022

"It's usually a very competitive field in the five-mile race," said Sayle. "Last year, there were a lot of guys that were up there pushing the pace and I wanted to run with them again this year but they didn't come to the race. I'm still happy with the race itself and to cross the line first."

Last year saw Sayle place fifth at the Johnnycake Jog at a similar pace (5:14 per mile) but this year saw the race play into his favor. With a number of new faces at the front, his recent trip to the top gave him confidence as the Jog got underway.

It was just his third ever 5 mile race at the Johnnycake Jog, but Johnny Sayle wasn't backing down from the challenge. The @kirtlandsports alumni pushed the pace and took the top overall spot in the race pic.twitter.com/nLJOYnyWAL

— Ben Hercik (@BHercikNH) July 10, 2022

"I was expecting us to go out a lot faster honestly," said Sayle. "I thought the first mile was going to be under five but we hit that mark at 5:15. I decided to take the lead after the first mile and push harder and nobody really followed that pace. I know that some of them were close behind but I was able to pull away."

While the slower pace caught Sayle off guard, he welcomed it as he was able to break away from the pack to lead. With the extra two miles in the Johnnycake compared to the Captains Grand Slam, he knew that pace was important to maintain.

In only his third five-mile race, Sayle led at all three checkpoints and kept the rest of the pack in the dust.

"I took it out a lot easier, especially with the hill in the first mile," said Sayle. "I wanted to take it out easy and bring it home harder. I was able to do that with the exception of the fourth mile or so. But overall taking it out easier really allowed me to dictate the pace of the race."

Even though he lacked experience in longer races, Sayle was fine with the challenge in the warm conditions. While everything played into his hands, that didn't mean it was all smooth sailing for the former Hornet.

The Johnnycake Jog course has always been a challenge for runners and Sayle knew that his biggest challenge was going to be the circuit rather than his competitors. But he knew that once he passed the first mile, he was in for smooth sailing the rest of the way.

"Those two hills in the first mile of the race are really challenging," said Sayle. "You don't want to push too hard and die later in the race but the hardest part is when you come down Mentor Ave. You still have a little over a mile and a half when you first come on it and you can see the finish line with over half a mile and it becomes a real mental battle at that point."