When a Sizzler fizzles, as it did last year due to the coronavirus
pandemic, can it relight on an August night?
The Elder Care Community Councils St. George Island 5K and
One Mile Fun Run did just that.
On a hot evening, Saturday Aug. 7, more than 50 volunteers,
from throughout the county, succeeded at making the race a safe event for all. Mary
Anne McGuire organized the volunteers, including the Forgotten Coast Parrot
Heads, and James Donald assisted in traffic control.
The evenings race card opened with the Fun Run, which
featured a modest field made up on two distinguished racing families, the Courtney
and Cliff Wilson crew with their children, all from Charlotte, North Carolina, and
the two children of Franklin County High School track coach Kati-Morgan Hathcock,
Kindergartner Hudson, and ABC School fifth grader Kaia.
Hudson ended up with
the victory, correcting his course despite a nagging side stitch. I was lost,
and then I turned around, he said.
ECCCs past president Bonnie Kellogg announced the start of
the 5K, alongside race director Mary Stutzman. Seventy runners took part, a refreshingly
strong field, and victory ended up going to 27-year-old Stephen Sroka, from
Atlanta, Georgia, who posted a 18:08 time.
I was on vacation with my girlfriend, he said. I decided
to hop in to see what I can do.
He had run a 4:19 mile at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania,
a 1:57 800 meters, and four minutes flat 1,500 meters, but he hadnt raced competitively
in five years, staying in shape by running between 50 and 70 miles a week.
Sroka said he stuck on his shoulder of the front runner
for the first mile, and then took off.
One runner who had a hard time taking off was 54-year-old
Clayton Sembler, 54, of Tallahassee, owner of CDS Manufacturing in Gretna. Thats
because he was running with 35 pounds of rucking strapped to his body.
Its like a boat anchor, he said. Its an honor of my
guys, each of my employees, armored and rangers, to honor them with an example
for my kids. He and his wife have five, ranging in age from 12 to 23.
Franklin County High School freshman Josiah Friddle ended up
finishing third, with a 19:46 time that was 23 seconds behind runner-up, Cliff Wilson, 40, who had earlier warmed up with the Fun Run.
Behind Friddle was Tripp Pitts, 17, part of a crew of
runners from Wakulla High School, who had a 20:07 time. Port St. Joe senior
Parker Hicks was sixth, as he set a personal record, just two seconds behind Pitts,
and a second behind fifth place Logan Chance, 24.
Wakulla senior Clara Alford had topped the female runners,
finishing 11th overall, with a time of 21:49.
Richard Barnett and Trina Grimes came all the way from
Wichita, Kansas, taking one of their early steps towards their goal of running a
race in every state. Barnett, 48, a firefighter at McConnell Air
Force Base, had a time of 23:13, to finish tops among men in their late 40s, while
Grimes, 44, a police officer in Eisenhower for 13 years, had a time of 37:36 to
finish first among females in their early 40s.
The star of the Sizzler was 87-year-old Bill DeGrummond, a
retired Florida State University Classics professor, who covered the course in
about 55 minutes.
He had started running at age 44, and has since then run
eight marathons, and five longer than marathons. He was helped along by his daughter
Juli deGrummond, 51, who after finishing the race about 23 minutes earlier, ran back to run alongside her dad the rest of the way. Her husband, Jimmy Stephens,
61, finished with a time of 35:48.
A member of the Gulf Winds Track Club, deGrummond said he
probably isnt going to run the Sizzler again, mainly because it is at one of
the most sweltering times of the year, and the running surface can be hazardous.
I try to be careful, he said. “There are some rough places.
Ill find an easier 5K in Tallahassee.
The oldest female finisher, Diane Meagh, 61, ran a 40:40
The top Female Grandmaster, for those over age 50, was Lynn Varner,
56, with a time of 26:01. The top Female Senior Grand Master, for those age 60
and older, was Debbie Peters, 60, who ran a 30:34.
The top Male Senior Grand Master was Michael Cipriano, 63, with a an impressive time of 23:27 to finish 21st.
Mason Bean had brought chairs, tents and tables for the
event, which made for a comfortable setting for the post-race Beach Pit BBQ served
by ECCC volunteers Barbara McInturff, Meline Meyer and Natalie DeWeaver.
We look forward to August 6, 2022 for the 25th year of the
island tradition of the Sizzler on SGI, said Kellogg.