COPPERAS COVE — Twelve-year-old Alexander Roberts of Killeen didn’t mince words after he crossed the finish line of the Jackrabbit Run 5K in Copperas Cove on Saturday.

“Excruciating,” he said after being asked how he felt about the run up and down the hills surrounding Ogletree Gap Preserve. “After going uphill five times then (going downhill) ... just stepping off a cliff.

“It’s the hardest 5K I’ve ever done.”

Roberts finished fifth overall and second in the male 12 to 15 age group, with a time of 21 minutes and 41 seconds.

Fifteen-year-old Gian Mikel Pulido of Killeen won the age group and finished second overall.

Like most runners, Pulido felt the cloudy and cool weather wasn’t the biggest challenge Saturday,

“The run was fine; it was a little tough with all the hills,” said Pulido, who’s won three of the six 5K runs in the Centex race series this year. “I’m not used to having someone in front of me.”

Pulido said the second-lace finish was a good result, since he’s doing base training for cross country. Next year could be a different story for the Killeen High School student.

“This year, the summer is just training, and then once I get to cross country, my goal is to make it to state,” Pulido said. “(But) from there, just every 5K, too see how much I can win by.”

The 5 and 10K runs are the kickoff for Rabbit Fest week in Copperas Cove. President Alicia Menard of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce said 192 runners pre-registered for the event, and about 50 more showed up to register Saturday morning. She said runners rarely skip a race because of the weather conditions.

“They will run in anything,” Menard said laughing. “They will run whether it’s raining or snowing or extremely hot out.”

The Chamber of Commerce has run the event for the past 15 years. Menard said they couldn’t do it without sponsors like Carlson Law Firm, Priority Charter Schools, the Centex Race Series and Chick-fil-A.

Menard said the Jackrabbit Run is a great event to kick off Rabbit Fest week. The annual festival will open Thursday at Copperas Cove City Park. Hours will be 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Runner Jim Nixon was very happy with his run on Saturday. He finished second in the male 70 and over age group.

“It was a great run,” he said of his time of 37:15. He said his time was a little slower than usual, but blamed it on the long uphill climb that was his biggest challenge. Still, he wasn’t complaining.

“Not bad for an 83-year-old,” he said, flashing a big smile.

Nixon and many of those who ran Saturday will be competing in the first-ever #Colonial Cares 5K, which will be held May 25 at Harker Heights Community Park.

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