The ability to run fast apparently “runs” in families, and it also helps to be young.

The overall winner of the recent Rivertown Run, Asher Patino, finished the 3.1-mile run through Downtown Conway in 19 minutes and 12 seconds. His brother, Matthew Patino, finished second in the men’s 14 and under age division with a time of 26 minutes and 14 seconds.

In the family of the female winner, Mackenzie Shuping, there were three family members who ended the run in the winner’s circle. Her dad, Hamp Shuping, finished first in the men’s 60-69 age group with a time of 23 minutes and 51 seconds; and her sister, Marlee Shuping won the 14 and under women’s division with a time of 30:07.

Conwayite Asher Patino, at only 17-years-old, is a junior at Aynor High School where he participates in track and cross country. He attributed his win Saturday morning to a lot of training and the dedication of a lot of people.

As for Saturday’s race, he said, “I thought it was perfect. I thought it was nice – well put together.”

The race began and ended at the Conway Marina. Runners headed down Laurel Street, made a loop at 13th Avenue and headed back on Elm Street.

The 14-year-old Matthew Patino also lives in Conway. He attends Aynor High School where he participates in track and cross country. He says running gives him an opportunity to work out, stay in shape and make friends. This is his third time to participate in the Rivertown Run, and he continues to get better. His first and second tries ended with times of 40 and 30 minutes, but this time he finished in 25 minutes and 36 second.

Matthew finished behind Miles Crawford in the 14 and under age group, who hit the finish line in 23 minutes and 6 seconds. The 10-year-old is also part of a successful group of runners. His brother, Zeke Crawford, finished fourth in the same category with a time of 29 minutes and 41 seconds, and their 12-year-old sister, Alivia Crawford, finished the course in 30 minutes and 44 seconds, giving her second place in the 14 and under female category.

Marlee Shuping was the winner of that category. She and her sister Mackenzie live in Murrells Inlet, but they come to Conway two days a week to work out with their dad.

Saturday was Mackenzie’s third time to enter the race, sponsored by the Conway Rotary Club. She finished in third place once and first in the 14 and under division once. The St. James Middle School student says she had an advantage this year because there were fewer runners in the race.

Rotarian Steve Perry says 130 runners and walkers participated, which is about half as many as in 2019. He blames COVID-19 for the smaller field this year.

Still Shuping said of her win, “It feels pretty good.”

She is thinking about joining her school’s track team this year.

The Shupings train at the Conway track and run up the hill by Conway Middle School.

Marlee Shuping, 11, saved her words, but just put up thumb up for her answer about what she thought about the race. The St. James Intermediate School student also participates in karate, according to her dad, who says she expects to earn her black belt next year.

“They’ve been my inspiration,” Shuping, a former Waccamaw Riverkeeper and retired Horry County Fire Department fire chief, said referring to his “girls”.

A group of runners from the Grand Strand Running Club had a more serious reason for joining the race. They were running in memory of Paul Boyd, who died about one month ago.

His wife, Angela Boyd, finished first in the 40-49 age group for females with a time of 26 minutes and 48 seconds.

Rich McAndrew was one of the Myrtle Beach runners, who wanted to honor Boyd. He finished second in the 60 to 69-year-old male category with a time of 26 minutes and 33 seconds.

He enjoyed the race.

“This is a fun run. It just feels good to go out and see all your friends. It’s a fun time,” he said.

Michael Major, also a Myrtle Beach Running Club member, finished third in the 40 to 49-year-old male category with a time of 26 minutes and 41 seconds. He said several years ago he was a finisher in a 100-mile run in Savannah, Ga.

In regard to Conway’s race, he said, “I like the course – like the people out here.”

Perry said this was the 14th year for the Rivertown Run that was sponsored for 10 years by the American Red Cross.

The Rotary Club took it over four years ago.

The Rotarian said the race is “a lot of work, but it pays off.”

Perry says this year’s smaller field cut into the club’s profits from the race. The earnings were down from $17,000 in 2019 to about $8,000 or $9,000 this year.

There is a one year lag between the time the club earns the profits and distributes them to local charities, so the $17,000 should be distributed soon.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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