Monday, July 17, 2017

Biberg and Sack star on the Oak Hammock and Swamp Forest trails

Chris O’Kelley had ruled the first two races of Gulf Winds Track Club’s 2017 Summer Trail Series, winning each event by over a minute. Emily Molen had enjoyed similar dominance in the women’s competition. But on Saturday morning, 15 July 2017, at the third race on the circuit, there was a new set of victors. Charles Biberg won that five-mile run on the trails of Tallahassee, Florida’s Phipps Park, running 33:35. Kat Sack was first in the women’s standings, placing tenth overall in 39:36.

Charles Biberg, Ryan Slyter
Charles Biberg and Ryan Slyter

The five-mile course toured the Swamp Forest Trail and the Oak Hammock Trail, taking runners through the kind of thick Florida jungle that early filmmakers had fallen in love with. There were tall trees for Tarzan (either Buster Crabbe or Johnny Weissmuller) to swing from. Roots reached out of the ground like tentacles, suggesting an even more hideous Creature of the Black Lagoon. On the paths themselves, Jungle Jim leading a procession of porters wouldn’t have looked out of place.


What you did see on the trails just after the 7:30 start of the race was Chris O’Kelley leading a field of 89 runners with Charles Biberg and Ryan Slyter right behind him.


“Chris was leading for the first three miles,” recalled Slyter.


“The multi-track got me,” said O’Kelley.

Plank bridge
Plank Walk

Sure enough, when the course opened up mid-race, briefly leaving the single-track trails, Slyter and Biberg flashed by O’Kelley. The second half started off as a two-man race, but Biberg ultimately left Slyter behind.


“He ran negative splits,” Slyter said of Biberg. “He just ran with us for the first half then ran the second half faster.”


Biberg took first in 33:35, with Slyter runner-up in 34:08. O'Kelly placed third in 34:40. Brian Molen was the top master runner, finishing fifth overall in 38:25.


It was Biberg’s first win in the Trail Series, but he had run earlier races on the circuit, placing third in the opener at Munson Hills and second in the next race at the Red Bug Trail. Women’s champ Kat Sack didn’t have that experience.

Kat Sack
Kat Sack

“This is my first Trail Series race ever,” said Sack. “I’ve raced on trails before, though.”


Sack has also raced successfully off the trails. Just seven days earlier, she had finished third on the women’s side at the Old Port Half Marathon in Portland, Maine, placing 48th overall in 1:30:08.


“My calves are still hurting,” said Sack.


In Phipps Park, Sack didn’t race like someone with sore legs. Running 39:36, she finished the run nearly a quarter mile ahead of the next woman. Emily Molen was second in the women’s standings and thirteenth overall in 41:26. Nazarae Rodriguez took the third woman's spot, 26th overall in 45:28.

Emily Molen
Emily Molen

Sack will miss the fourth and final race in the Summer Trail Series, a run on the trails of Tom Brown Park, scheduled for Saturday evening, 5 August 2017. Instead, she’ll be racing the 20th annual and final Summer Sizzler 5K on Saint George Island. Sack is still a fan of the Summer Trail Series, though.


“Maybe I’ll do the full season next year.”


Top Ten Men, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Oak Hammock/Swamp Forest Trail 5-Mile Race
  1. 33:35, Charles Biberg (M, 24)
  2. 34:08, Ryan Slyter (M, 27)
  3. 34:40, Chris O'Kelley (M, 24)
  4. 36:49, Eric Godin (M, 33)
  5. 38:25, Brian Molen (M, 41)
  6. 38:38, Myles Gibson (M, 51)
  7. 38:57, James Wilkinson (M, 34)
  8. 38:58, Mark Sobczak (M, 39)
  9. 39:27, John Ellis (M, 31)
  10. 39:43, Gary Johnston (M, 42)

Top Ten Women, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Oak Hammock/Swamp Forest Trail 5-Mile Race
  1. 39:36, Kat Sack (F, 25)
  2. 41:26, Emily Molen (F, 15)
  3. 45:28, Nazarae Rodriguez (F, 27)
  4. 46:00, Leah Mitchem (F, 38)
  5. 46:09, Julie Duggins (F, 34)
  6. 46:13, Mary Jane Hayden (F, 37)
  7. 46:36, Megan Orcutt (F, 32)
  8. 46:46, Darcy Brinkmann (F, 36)
  9. 47:03, Deirdre McCarthy (F, 37)
  10. 50:15, Marien Dimacali (F, 55)

Gulf Winds Track Club's Summer Trail Series race winners, 2013 - 2017
YearDateRaceTop MaleTop FemaleFinishers
2013June 22Cadillac Trail 5½M37:38, Kevin Sullivan45:07, Stephanie Liles-Weyant121
July 13Swamp Forest Trail 4½M30:19, Kevin Sullivan34:12, Micah Adriani124
July 27Magnolia Trail 3½M21:44, Kevin Sullivan24:45, Stephanie Liles-Weyant114
August 3Red Bug Trail 4½M33:31, Bryce Van Dam43:46, Stephanie Liles-Weyant92
2014June 21Red Bug Trail 4½M38:30, Charn McAllister42:02, Brook Pace114
July 12Swamp Forest Trail 4½M29:06, Charn McAllister33:13, Brook Pace109
July 26Magnolia Trail 3½M26:03, Charn McAllister30:16, Emily Molen108
August 2Cadillac Trail 5½M41:38, Brian Molen48:25, Emily Molen88
2015May 30Cadillac Trail 5½M39:15, Zach Deveau42:51, Alyson Churchill158
June 13Oak Hammock Trail 5M32:59, Zach Deveau35:10, Alyson Churchill129
July 18Coon Bottom Trail 4M28:42, Zach Deveau29:14, Alyson Churchill112
August 1Red Bug Trail 4½M35:14, Greg Bargo35:24, Alyson Churchill112
2016May 21Magnolia Trail 3½M25:18, Dan Baur27:05, Katie Gorman133
June 4Oak Hammock Trail 5½M42:53, Eric Godin45:24, Katie Gorman123
July 9Red Bug Trail 4½M33:14, Dan Baur35:04, Katie Gorman130
July 30Cadillac Trail 5½M43:06, Paul Guyas42:29, Alyson Churchill95
2017June 10Munson Hills 6M36:45, Chris O'Kelley46:34, Emily Molen87
July 1Red Bug Trail 4½M37:34, Chris O'Kelley48:24, Emily Molen90
July 15Oak Hammock/Swamp Forest 5M33:35, Charles Biberg39:36, Kat Sack89
August 5Tom Brown Park 4½M


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