Oxford's Gonzales, Irvin come away from 5K with state records, possible world record

·4 min read

Jun. 25—There's only one way a world 5K record and a state record could be sweeter.

That's if the belt-high-to-an-adult digital clock showing those record times stands taller than the record-setting children pointing at it.

Such was the case a week ago Saturday, when Oxford's Graci Gonzales, 5, and Trinity Irvin, 6, posed for their victorious pictures after finishing the "Dee" Pogue Foundation 5K in Anniston.

Running on a pre-certified course, Gonzales finished in 22 minutes, 16 seconds. Deep-dive research turned up a Runners World story that pegged the previous record at 24:08, set by James Reed during the Hoofin for Habitat 5K Run on Oct. 18, 2014, in Duluth, Ga.

Irvin's 24:10 set an Alabama mark for 6-year-olds. A teammate of Gonzales on the Amateur Athletic Union Fast Feet track team, Irvin also twice broke a Georgia 800-meter record earlier this year.

Neither accomplishment comes as a shock to Fast Feet coach Sam Green.

"They're my future Sha'Carri Richardsons," he said, referring to the American sprinter. "That's what I call them."

Gonzales took off from soccer this year to focus on track. She began speed work with Green in February and ranks No. 1 nationally for her age group in the 400 dash, Greene said.

She'll run at nationals in Florida in two weeks.

Irvin begins her second year running for Green, but it's more like her first. The COVID-19 pandemic shortened her 2020 with him.

She ranks No. 1 nationally for 6-year-olds in the 800.

"These kids at practice push them, and they just have that dog instilled in them to where they don't even want to lose at practice," Green said. "They don't want to lose to no older kids, and they definitely don't want to lose to no boys."

Gonzales trains with her dad, Pedro, in the hilly subdivision around their home on Valley View Drive.

She started with what her dad called "play running" in the house. She'd ask her parents to watch how fast she could run.

They tried her in track, and it didn't go so well at first.

"She did not like it," Pedro Gonzales said. "It was not the type of running she thought it was going to be.

"She thought it was going to be fun running."

Her parents wouldn't let her quit what she started. They wanted her to learn to push through and finish, and her competitive sense took hold after she saw it in older girls.

Gonzales won her first medal, third place in the 400, in a Georgia meet then had her first first-place finish in practice.

"I was excited," she said. "I was so pumped up that I got third place on my first time."

Irvin's emergence followed a similar track. She followed her aunt, Sherry Irvin, who's run marathons, into running.

Trinity Irvin took time off from Karate this year to focus on track.

"When she first went out in the field, we could see her potential," Sherry Irvin said. "She's very competitive. She doesn't like for anyone to pass her.

"It's making her stronger, all around. It's helping her with her attitude, as well. She gives it her all."

Both youths came into last week's 5K in Anniston aware of record potential.

Gonzales came within eight seconds of a state record in the Lion's Run for Sight 5K, her first attempt at a 5K.

"The way I thought about that was, 'Hey, that's great,' because I ran a 28," Pedro Gonzales said. "I couldn't keep up with her."

They pointed to the next 5K chance, the Pogue Foundation event. Pogue, aware that Gonzales would go for a record, got the course certified.

Pedro Gonzales researched ahead of the event and found the Runners World story about Reed's 2014 world record. The headline said Reed "shattered" the world 5-year-old mark with a 24:08.

Pedro Gonzales filed that information away but perked up, after his daughter passed him. He heard Green call out her time.

When dad finished in the 24s, he knew his daughter had done something special. He learned her time, 22:16, and said he was "blown away."

Graci Gonzales found her dad to tell him she broke the record.

"I was excited," Graci Gonzales said. "I've really been wanting to break a record."

Greene has submitted information about her run to Guinness World Records. The Pogue Foundation run meets criteria of a certified course and chip timing.

The state has recognized records for Gonzales and Irvin, an important step in Guinness giving its stamp of approval.

Graci Gonzales said she hopes to "break the record every time." Her ultimate target?

"Flo-Jo," she said, referring to the late Florence Griffith-Joyner, whose 1988 world records in the 100 and 200 dashes stand today.

Irvin said she ran with Gonzales for much of the race and delighted in passing older kids.

"I slowed down," she said, "but I still broke a record."

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.

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