Sometimes, even when you’ve never taken on a challenge before, like beginning a running regimen late in life, you have to find the courage to take that first step.

That’s what the Elder Care Community Council (ECCC) of Franklin County did this year, assumed for the first time the planning, organization and running of the 21st annual 5K Sizzler race and One-Mile Fun Run.

All things considered, they didn’t do too badly.

Ninety-seven of the 113 runners who registered finished the 5K course Saturday evening on St. George Island, and another dozen or so ran the One-Mile Fun Run, a bit below some of the fields that competed in the two decades the race has been a staple on the island.

Race founder Hobson Fulmer said the decline in attendance was mainly due to how many other races have sprung up in the last 20 several years, ever since he created the island race during a hot, and typically slow, time of the racing calendar. There was even one Saturday morning in Tallahassee that was part of the summer series of the Gulf Winds Track Club, whose runners typically help to populate the Sizzler’s field.

“This was a good turnout, considering,” said Hobson Fulmer.

Fulmer’s wife Bonnie, together with Betsy Nofziger and Mary Stutzman, all active in the ECCC, oversaw the day’s activities, and together with other volunteers, handled everything from advertising the race to to handing out the exquisite coral trophies presented to the winners.

“We’re grateful for the overwhelming support of our almost 50 sponsors and over 50 volunteers that came out to help make the event a huge success,” said Bonnie Fulmer. “Thank you to our 113 runners that braved the heat to run to support seniors in Franklin County.”

First to cross the finish line in the One-Mile Fun Run was Harper Buntin, 13, a seventh grader from Albany, Georgia, who ran the course in 7:07.

Buntin, who trains with older brother Courtland, a college student who finished eighth in the 5K, said he’s aiming to beat his elder’s marks.

“He started running a little bit before me,” said Harper. “I’m catching up.

“My best two-mile is 15:50,” he said. “I try to cut my times down by 10 seconds a day.”

Jackson Jones, 12, a seventh grader from Eastman, Georgia, ran about 47 seconds behind Buntin in the One-Mile, and then took on the 5k and ran a 39:59.

“I probably didn’t stretch good enough when I started,” said Jones, who runs cross country and track for Dodge County Middle School Indians.

Jones was on vacation with his parents and older brother and younger sister, but he couldn’t get them to run with him. “I tried to talk them into it, but they wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Winning the 5K was 21-year-old Chance Logan, who ran track in Liberty County and is now a sophomore at Chipola College. He ran a 19:06, 37 seconds ahead of runner-up Duane Evans, 51.

“It’s definitely not my personal best for the summer time. It’s not far off, probably about 30 seconds off for the summertime,” he said. “You take the good with the bad.”

Taking top female honors was 34-year-old Melanie Leitman, from Tallahassee, who finished 13th overall with a time of 22:14.

“It was hot,” said Leitman. “But I’m used to running in heat and humidity, because I run in Florida.”

In keeping with the mission of the ECCC, the race also honored the two most senior finishers, 73-year-old Carlos Zapata, who finished 42nd with a time of 28:29; and 68-year-old Katie Herzog, who was 83rd, with a time of 36:12.

For complete race results, and lots of photos, go to www.apalachtimes.com