Belmont graduate wins Boulevard Bolt race

By Marissa DeCuir
November 28, 2008

Ryan Snellen took a big step Thursday to his goal of running in the 2012 Olympics.

The 2007 Belmont graduate finished first in his first Boulevard Bolt in 24 minutes, 37 seconds – the fastest pace in six years for the 5-mile run down Belle Meade Boulevard.

Snellen said he’s been running about 75 to 90 miles a week this fall and plans increase that to 100 in the spring in preparation for his goal.

Bejan Abtahi, a Father Ryan graduate in his senior year at Georgia, finished second (24:54) and Brock Baker, who won the Bolt two years ago, came in third (25:05).

“It was a whole lot more competitive this year,” Baker said.

Abtahi and Baker, an MBA graduate in his senior year at North Carolina, raced each other dozens of times in high school.

The 15th annual race has grown so large in recent years – a record 7,900 participated this year – that competitive runners have some trouble once they turn around and meet the masses trailing behind them.

Abtahi said he was losing five or six meters every few seconds, so he and Snellen jumped in front and starting making their own path.

“We had some close encounters with almost running into people,” said Abtahi, who now has finished second twice in the race.

The Bolt has raised more than $1 million for organizations that help Nashville’s homeless. Diane Kuhn, who organized this year’s race, expects the amount raised to exceed last year’s total of about $160,000.

“Every dollar a racer gives is going to the homeless,” she said.

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