Columbia River High School senior Rebecca Leong’s interests in cross-country running and public health have earned her top honors in a national competition and a $50,000 scholarship.Leong, 18, was named one of two winners in the Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition for her research on the effects of footwear on running-related injuries. The competition calls on high school juniors and seniors to submit original research projects employing the methods epidemiologists use to improve public health.Leong, who ran cross country for Columbia River, tested the claims that barefoot running is better for the body. She gathered a group of 45 runners in three different categories: barefoot runners, shoe-wearers and those who are transitioning from running in shoes to running barefoot. She monitored their mileage, running surfaces and injuries for 12 weeks. Her data showed that people who run in shoes suffer fewer injuries than those in the other groups. The next fewest number of injuries was in the barefoot running group.She was named one of 60 regional finalists — and the only one from Washington state — and went to Washington, D.C., on Friday to present her work. She was one of 12 national finalists to present again Sunday. That night, she was named one of two competition winners.