Sunday, July 5, 2009

Back to the Beach--Robida Wins 2009 Summer Sizzler 5K

John Robida dominated a field of over 200 runners, running 16:53 to win the 11th annual Summer Sizzler 5K, contested on the evening of Saturday, 27 June 2009 on St George Island, Florida. Robida moved into the lead early in the first mile, and had opened a commanding margin over his nearest challenger, Michael Martinez, by the midway point of the race. By the time Robida crossed the finish line he was nearly a quarter mile ahead of Martinez, who ran 18:28 to finish as runner-up and top master (over 40). Martinez, in turn, led third-place finisher and second-place master Tim Unger (18:42) to the finish line by over seventy yards.

Kelsey Scheitlin won the women's title, finishing eleventh overall in 19:47. Scheitlin, a Florida State University graduate student, led her competitors almost from the very start of the race and completed the course over a quarter mile ahead of the second-place woman, Nancy Stedman. Stedman shook off a challenge by Fran McLean in the second half of the race to finish 23rd overall as the top woman master (over 40). Stedman's time of 22:16 was a personal best; McLean was the third woman finisher and second woman master at 22:33.

The otherwise well-executed event was marred by starting at 7:20 PM ET, ten minutes before the published starting time of 7:30. As the name of the race would indicate, the weather was truly "sizzling," with race-time temperatures close to 90°F, clear skies, and relative humidity close to 80%. The course (USATF FL99035DL) was almost entirely flat, but the runners fought a strong breeze when headed west, altho' they were aided by the same breeze when headed east. The race route took the athletes east along the bay side of the island, then back west along the gulf side of the island, finally turning back east to follow the St George Island Bike Path to the finish line near the reconstructed Cape St George Lighthouse.


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