With sunny weather, brisk winds and flood of volunteers to help it along, Sunday’s third annual Running for the Bay marathon marked another success.
While 655 runners signed up to take part, 509 runners actually ran, just a tad below last year’s field of 522 runners.
“I think it went super, everybody seems to be really happy,” said Mark Henderson, race organizer. “Most importantly the residents were happy. We got great feedback from volunteers. Even the DOT (Florida Department of Transportation) was happy. They’re happy we cleaned up really well.
As part of the race’s mission to assist with local needs, the race this year donated $2,500 to Bay Aid, a fund to assist struggling seafood workers. A large number of volunteers from Franklin’s Promise, which administers Bay Aid, were up at the crack of dawn Sunday to be at the 7:15 a.m. start from Battery Park in Apalachicola.
The largest field of runners, 132 females and 91 males, took part in the half-marathon, won by Charlie Cooley, 34, of Davenport, in a time of 1:27.44.
Top female finisher, and 20th overall, was Angela Dempsey, of Apalachicola, who took a break from her duties as circuit court judge to brave the course, which ran over the bridge into Eastpoint and across to St. George island and back.
“The weather was awesome,” said Dempsey. “The route is good, really flat other than the bridge. Some people run on the grass but it wasn’t bad.”
Dempsey, who ran track and cross country at San Diego State University during her undergraduate years, posted a 1:48.13, just slightly over her time last year, but a very respectable 8:16 mile.
“I’m pretty satisfied,” she said. “I’m 44, and it keeps me in shape. It helps with stress relief.”
Also running in the half-marathon was Talon WhiteEagle, 29, of Apalachicola, who posted a 1:52.08 to finish 31st overall, and Clint Kadel, 43, of St. George Island, who ran a 2:02 to finish 62nd overall.
The marathon drew 73 males and 63 males, and was won by Daniel McCarthy, 44, Lake Mary, who ran a 2:58.13.
“It went well,” he said. “I was thinking at going out at a sub 2:50 but the first few miles are really windy so I kind of adjusted my goals. I gave up on that the first mile. The first quarter of the course, and the third quarter of the course were very windy.
“The last stretch the wind was at my back and that helped a lot,” he said. “Normally I fade a little bit at that point but the tail wind kind of kept me steady.”
McCarthy, a senior business analyst for the American Automobile Association International, posted a time about six minutes slower than his personal best since he began running about 15 years ago.
“I used to play a lot of basketball but I broke my jaw playing basketball and I decided to do something a little safer so I started running,” he said.
He and his wife and two twin boys made the race part of a weeklong stay on St. George Island.
Topping the marathon’s field of women was Michele Patterson, 27, Dothan, Ala.. who ran a personal best 3:35.41 but missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 42 seconds.
“It went great until about mile 18 and I lost it,” she said. “It was a really good race, beautiful weather. Omigosh, the sunrise was gorgeous, the course was great. It’s just the inevitable headwind that got me.”
A food scientist running ever since she graduated college six years ago, Patterson said she plans to make another try at qualifying for Boston next month.
The 50k Ultra-Marathon, about 31 miles, was won by Andres Perez, 33, of Orlando, running with Team Red, White and Blue, a group created to assist returning combat veterans in adapting to life back at home.
Perez, who finished second last year in the event, ran a 4:08.19 to top the field of 19 males and 14 females, completing the course four minutes ahead of the top female, Angie Ave, 40, of Orlando.
Perez, who served with the 82nd Airborne, said Team RWB was created “to motivate solders having a difficult time adapting to society after they come back from a combat zone.”
His teammate, Jaime Melendez, 43, from San Juan, Puerto Rico, retired after 20 years in the Army, said the team is committed to “helping them getting them off the couch, not feeling sorry for themselves and get them out here to enjoy life again by pairing them with civilian advocates.
“We worked together in the front and now we’re going to be together back in the rear doing good things,” he said. “You get to focus on something other than your problems. It burns off a lot of negative energy.”
The 10k race drew 17 males and 44 females, and was won by Zachary Valentine, of Fort Drum, New York, in 44:24, about six minutes faster than the top female, Louise Valentine, 27, of Enterprise, Ala.
Delighted with her finish was Cassie Gary, 40, of Apalachicola, who ran a personal best 1:00.56. “Three years ago, I quit smoking and decided to start running again,” she said.
In fourth place overall, Richard Heckler, 20, of St. George island, ran a 52:11.
The 5k race, with 17 males and 44 females, was won by David Griffin, 50, of Panama City Bach, in 23:16, with Lynden Robb, 22, of Crawfordville, the top female with a 26:53.
Ladonna Ingram, 47, of Apalachicola, ran a 34:42 to finish 20th overall, while Press Witt, 54, of Apalachicola, ran 54:19 to finish 52nd.
For complete results, visit www.racesmith.com