Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

Running scared

BY Brandon Howard
Highlands Today

Published:

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SEBRING - 5Ks don't get any spookier than this.

Highlands Hammock State Park hosted over 150 runners Saturday for the fifth annual Ridge Area Arc Halloween 5K/10K and Mini-Monster Fun Run. The family-friendly event saw many joggers decked out in costumes, including everything from a trio of Waldos to a runaway bride.

"It was a wonderful day," said Ridge Area Arc CEO Rhonda Beckman. "Perfect weather, great turnout - I'm just so pleased."

Along with the course for the older kids and adults, the race also included a Mini-Monster Fun Run for the youngsters.

"We wanted to have games and activities for the little ones to encourage exercise," Beckman said. "But we also have a costume contest and prizes for the most money raised and trophies for the top runners."

The race actually has roots that reach beyond Halloween. Former Avon Park athletic director Chet Brojek organized a 5K to benefit Arc more than 20 years ago, but after it dissolved Beckman and Brojek started the race back up in 2009, this time with a new theme.

But the goal remains unchanged. Arc's races will always benefit individuals with developmental or other disabilities.

"One of the highlights of our race is that it's not just for the athletes and the runners," Beckman said. "It's for everyone, including our people, some of whom have physical and intellectual disabilities."

"They get donations from pledges, who sponsor them to walk. Their goal was to raise $2,500, and they don't know it yet, but they made it."

Dylan Branch captured the 5K course, breezing into first place with a sizzling time of 19 minutes and 16 seconds. Sean Brown was the male masters winner, finishing with a time of 19:33, while H. Randall Shriver was the grand masters winner, coming in at 26:05.7.

On the women's side, Regan Davneport won top honors, gliding in at 22:31.3. Davenport was also seventh overall. Cherie Starr was the masters winner, finishing with a time of 27:23. The grand masters winner was Margy Vogel, who finished at 42:04.7.

Fewer than 30 runners braved the 10K course, but those who did finished with impressive times.

Angel Nowling was the female open winner, completing the course in 57:40.1, which was good for fifth place overall. She was the only female runner to finish the race in under an hour.

Sharon Griffin was the masters winner, finishing with a time of 1:07:54.6, while Mary Rucker was the grand masters champion, coming in at 1:21:44.5.

On the men's side, Chuck Best lived up this surname, winning the 10K with a stellar time of 47:22.8.

He was followed by masters winners Terry Engle, who completed the race in 48:24.7, which was good for third place overall. Charlie Potter was grand masters winner, and placed seventh overall, in 59:10.

Meanwhile, in the female 14-and-under age group from the 5K, Shayla Cox finished first with a time of 27:37.1. Madeline Whitney followed her in second at 31:46.2,- and Gabriella Rybinski was third in 35:21.6.

Katie Stoll and Katie Gibson were the lone runners in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups, respectively, and finished in 25:01.4 and 1:05:30.

Janet Barber won the 25-29 class, coming in at 33:13.5. In second was Taylor Benson at 39:23.2, followed by Erin Alltop in third at 1:01:14.

Amy Zwayer won the 30-34 age group, finishing with a time of 27:49.5. She was followed by Bonny Revell who finished second at 29:42.6. Trisha Johnson was third in 31:57.5.

In the 35-39 class, Heidi Stephens edged Gloria Rybinski, as Stephens finished in 34:27.8 to Rybinski's 35:11.2. Kelly Dressel was just behind them in third with a time of 37:43.5.

Brandi Rankin obliterated the competition in the 40-44 age group, coming in at 34:35.5, nearly 20 minutes better than second-place runner Mindy Whitney, who finished in 55:35.8. Brandy Alomar was third in 1:05:03.3.

Dana O'Rourke was the 45-49 class champion, finishing with a time of 31:04.5. Helen Burton follwed in second at 40:36.1, while Judy Lee Brown was third in 45:41.9.

Featuring 10 runners, the 50-54 age group was the largest female class of the race, and Sheri Bates cruised into first place in 31:15.4. Robin Gonzalez was second in 42:18.1 and Michelle Drake was third in 52:53.3.

Only three runners competed in the 55-59 class. Debbie Chavis placed first in 47:11; Ramonita Pachecho was second in 49:56.8; and Sue Talios was third in 1:21:43.3.

Bonnie Potter edged Beckman for first place in the 60-64 class, completing the course in 47:11.3 to Beckman's 48:48.2. Judy Granger was third in 53:25.1.

Two runners made up the 65-69 group, with Paulette Schwartz finishing first in 53:08.4 and Judith O'Hora coming in second at 53:08.7.

There were three runners who were 70 or older. Audrey Smith paced them, coming in at 42:12.4. Betty Howard was next at 55:42.2, and Vera McGahan rounded out the group with a time of 1:00:17.2.

Other impressive finishes from the 5K included Richard Flores, who finished second overall at 19:26.1. Chandler Gowan was fourth overall in 20:10.4. And John Hodgkinson was sixth overall in 22:11 while Eric Bussiere was eighth in 24:22.3.

bhoward@highlandstoday.com

(863) 386-5841

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