SEBRING - Exactly 100 runners gathered at Highlands Hammock State Park on Saturday morning for the first Sebring Sunrise Rotary Red/White/Blue 5k.
The race was organized by the rotary's assistant district governor, Greig Drury, for the benefit of the Honor Flights Program.
"We're entering our third year now," Drury said. "And it's where we take World War II veterans, and we sponsor them on a whirlwind, one day tour."
"The day starts at about 4 a.m., we treat them to breakfast, and we take a charter flight from Fort Meyers to Washington D.C. - where they spend all day touring the memorials."
A one time trip held in May, Rotarians pay their own way and serve as escorts, while money raised from the race and other events goes into the veterans' fund. Drury has also partnered with the other seven rotary clubs in Highlands County, along with the Hardee County Rotary Club, to sponsor as many veterans as possible.
"World War II veterans are dying at an average of 1,200 per day," Drury said. "And last year we had a problem, because we were running out of veterans who were healthy enough to make the trip."
But despite their dwindling numbers, Drury has helped nearly 100 veterans over the past three years make the trip.
Meanwhile, out on the track, youngster Zoe Wortinger stole the spotlight when she galloped in as the overall female winner with a time of 24 minutes and nine seconds. Wortinger also finished third overall.
"It was good," Wortinger said. "I plan to keep running, because I really like track a lot."
A member of Avon Park's Champions Elite Track Club, Saturday was Wortinger's first experience with running a 5k. Despite the incredible finish, Wortinger said she hasn't received any scholarship offers yet.
Other impressive finishes on the women's side included Trudy Benton, who was the female masters winner with a time of 25:48, while Elenba Febre captured the grand masters in 32:52.
Connie Large and Emily Myers were the lone runners in the 60 to 64 and 75 to 79 age group, finishing with times of 51:57 and 1:00:57, respectively.
In the 55 to 59 division, Barb Sheasley finished first at 39:07, followed by Susan cook in second at 50:32, while Ramonita Pacheco placed third in 54:54.
Cheri Weed won the 50 to 54 age group with a time of 39:32. Robin Caffrey finished second in 41:50 and Margaret Ellerbee was third at 51:14.
One of the larger groups of the race, the 45 to 49 division was won by Teresa Elders, who finished with a sizzling 32:46. Dana O'Rourke was second at 33:47 and Helen Burton was third with a time of 41:17.
Karin Van Rooyen captured first place in the 40 to 44 age group, edging Sonia Quejada with a time of 29:28 to Quejada's 30:22. Brandi Rankin was third at 39:44.
With a name fit for running, Laura Van Fleet took first place in the 35 to 39 division with a time of 27:47. Laura Griffin was next, finishing at 28:55, while Becka Kampman was third in 41:42.
Arguably the most competitive division on the women's side, Amy Zwayer won the 30 to 34 age group with a stellar 28:15. Kayline Lindsey placed second in 32:22, as Ginny Cox was just behind her in third at 32:46.
Destiny Barker cruised to a first place finish in the 25 to 29 division at 42:08. Monica Ramirez was second with a time of 53:25, edging Irene Gamez who finished in 53:27.
In the 20-24 division, Hilary Fiocca was first with a time of 24:50, followed by Katie Heston at 30:30, while Jackey Current finished third at 33:23.
Julia Van Fleet captured another first place finish for her family, winning the 14 to 19 age group in 27:24. Chelsea Basset, the only other runner in the division, finished with a time of 55:37.
In the 9 to 13 age group, Shayla Cox edged two more Van Fleets with a time of 27:54. Katelyn and Elisabeth Van Fleet finished second and third, respectively, at 36:01 and 36:11.
Riley Sevigny was the only participant in the eight and under group. She finished with a time of 33:37.
Bert Cox led the way on the men's side with the best time of the entire race, clocking in at 22:16. Cox was also the overall male winner.
Elmer Hall was the male master winner with a time of 23:52, while Randy Severn was the grand masters winner at 27:04.
In the male eight and under age group, Zachary Van Fleet captured first place with a time of 27 minutes. Bud Cox followed him at 27:45, while Austin Ulm placed third in 31:52.
Ashton Griffin and Fisher Miller were the only two runners in the 9 to 13 division. Griffin finished in 25:42 while Miller came in at 50:04.
The 20 to 24 age group had only two runners as well, with Justin Chin finishing ahead of Trevor LeFiles at 30:54. LeFiles finished at just under 50 minutes, coming in at 46:52.
In the 30 to 34 age group, Matt Griffin finished first with a time of 28:21. Former Sebring Blue Streaks stand out, Eric Zwayer, was second at 29:27. Mark Sevigny was third at 33:40.
Chuck Barker won the 35 to 39 age group with a time of 24:29. Brian Van Fleet finished second in 24:29 and Greg Griffin placed third at 26:52.
In the 40 to 44 division, Willem Badenhorst edged Andre Van Rooyen to capture first place with a time of 26:02 to Van Rooyen's 26:20. Andy Tuck came in third at 27:25.
Terry Elders breezed to a first place finish in the 45 to 49 age group in 27:11. Mike Llorka finished second with a time of 34:19 and Brian Weed placed third in 39:33.
Steve Roberts was the sole runner in the 50 to 54 age group, finishing at just over one hour with a time of 1:00:57.
In the 55 to 59 division, Bill Jarrett motored his way to a 25:49 first place finish, while Richard Caffrey, the division's only other runner, came in behind Jarrett at 1:05:16.
The 65 to 69 age group also featured only two runners, with Gary Cavasos coming in ahead of Walter Large. Cavasos finished at 51:13 while Large came in at 51:59.
Dale Barger and Scott Fettinger were the only runners in the 70 to 74 division. Barger finished with a time of 39:37 while Fettinger was behind him at one hour and one minute.