The 25th anniversary edition of the Sizzler 5K Run on St. George Island did not live up to its name, but it did its reputation.
With a morning rain shower putting a welcome damper on the race’s reputation for torrid temperatures, the Saturday evening run turned out to a joyous and exciting affair, raising a boatload of money for the county’s senior citizens and the more than 2,300 lunches provided them every month by the Elder Care Community Council.
The race was dominated by two runners with roots in Wakulla County.
The top runner was 28-year-old Stan Linton, from Crawfordville, who now serves as a lieutenant in the Navy stationed in Memphis, Tennessee as a data analyst.
Linton was visiting his friend Shawn Morris, who is with the Navy stationed in Japan, as well as Josh Dismuke, from Tallahassee.
“The race went well,” said Linton, who ran a blistering 15:19, more than two minutes faster than runner-up. Leonardo Canete, 43, who was the top Male Masters.
The top female Masters was Sara Jordan, 42, who ran 19th with a 23:43 time.
The top male Grand Master was Duane Evans, 55, who finished eighth with a time of 20:19, and the top female Grand Master was Kelley El-Urfali, 58, who finished 27th with a time of 25:35.
The top male Senior Grand Master was Michael Cipriano, 64, who was 24th with a time of 24:19, and the top female in that category was Debbie Peters, 61, who was 47th with a time of 29:54.
The oldest male finisher was Carlos Zapata, 77, with a time of 28:08 and the oldest female was Pehra Varley, 78, who ran a 38:03.
Linton said his first and third miles went well, with times of 4:53, with the second mile a little slower due to the wind blowing in the opposite direction
His time was a minute slower than his personal best, a 14:18 run on a track.
A 2012 graduate of Wakulla High School, and a 2016 graduate of Florida State, he ran track and cross country for both schools, and earned All-Conference honors while in college. He had run the Sizzler twice while in high school, as a freshman in college and after graduation.
A member of the All Navy running team, he has competed at the U.S. Cross Country Championships and the World Military Championships. He has also run the marathon at the Olympic trials, with a best time of 2:18.45.
The best female time was Wakulla High School sophomore Isabella Laughton, 15, from Panacea. She ran a 22:30 and was 13th overall.
“It was really hot,” she said, as she ran about three minutes slower than her personal best 19:11.
Laughton, who is a cousin to top Franklin County High School runner Josiah Friddle, was among a contingent of Wakulla runners brought by coaches Mike and Melissa Martin, who also ran.
Friddle, 15, was the top Franklin County runner, finishing sixth overall with a time of 19:38.
The Sizzler was first started by Eastpoint veterinarian Dr. Hobson Fulmer to provide a running venue for the Franklin County High School cross country team under the auspices of Gulf Winds Track Club.
Fulmer made sure it was a Grand Prix event, which as a part of the circuit, attracted a healthy contingent of Gulf Winds runners.
This year, a second Grand Prix event, a one-mile Breakfast on the Track, was held Saturday in Tallahassee, and it was won by Linton as well.
Philip Sura, 52, a Tallahassee resident originally from Germany, and a member of the Gulf Winds board, ran Saturday, and finished 10th with a time of 21:23. His wife Julia Sura, 51, finished 51st with a time of 27:06.
Monica Boles, from Harmony, ran along with 7-year-old daughter Delaney, who defeated her mom by two seconds, running a 38:03.
“It was a last hurrah before school starts,” said mom, noting that the family, who include dad Kevin, and daughters Kennedy, 10, Sidney, 5, and Zoey, 2, were on the island vacationing when they saw the red cones and noticed the race was taking place.
Among the runners who took part was State Senator Loranne Ausley, who at age 58, won her age group and finished 38th overall with a time of 27:31.