Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sand and 'Skeeters at the Sanctuary of Wakulla Springs

Justin Dickieson kicked past Tony Guillen in the last 400 meters to win the fourth annual Wakulla Springs 5K on Saturday morning, 15 May 2010. Dickieson's time was 17:56, while Guillen settled for runner-up and top master at 18:07. Kati Gosnell was the first woman across the line, finishing eleventh overall in 20:03, nearly a minute ahead of women's runner-up, Micah Adriani (20th, 20:54). Fran McLean took honors as the top woman master, covering the course in 22:32.

Once each year since 2007, Wakulla Springs State Park throws open its "Sanctuary" and invites runners to do a 5K on the trails of that usually-closed section of the park. The race is a fundraiser for the Friends of Wakulla Springs, but I suspect that they also need the runners back there to feed the Sanctuary's healthy population of mosquitoes, ticks, and deer flies. Wakulla Springs is on the Woodville Karst Plain, so the course is as flat as can be. The route takes the runners on a loop through the wooded Sanctuary, mostly on sandy access roads. The final stages of the race parallel the Wakulla River, and you can hear the cries of coots and other waterfowl. Elsewhere on the course it wouldn't be unusual to hear the scream of a hawk or the call of a woodpecker. Although it's entirely possible that you wouldn't be able to hear any birdcalls at all over the hum of the mosquitoes.

Guillen went to the front early. Stanley Linton, a Wakulla High distance runner, followed Guillen into the Sanctuary, but fell back as the runners made their way through the sand of the Sanctuary. Dickieson moved past Linton, then took up a position behind Guillen. With half a kilometer to go Dickieson was still there, barely a step behind Guillen. With the race nearly over Dickieson struck. He went by and went away, and was still going away when he crossed the line 50 meters ahead of Guillen. Linton was another 150 meters back in third place at 18:41. In the women's competition Kati Gosnell went right to the front and stayed there for the entire race, winning by close to 200 meters. Each of the top three women--Gosnell, Micah Adriani, and Kelly Stevens--ran faster than any woman had run before on the course. The previous record holder and defending women's champion, Roxanne Hughes, was the fourth woman in at 21:56.

Wakulla Springs 5K Champions, 2007-2010
19 May 2007
Miles Gibson (19:09)
Olivia Swedberg (22:16)
17 May 2008
Jay Wallace (17:42)
Sydney Nutting (23:29)
16 May 2009
Tyler Price (17:20)
Roxanne Hughes (21:49)
15 May 2010
Justin Dickieson (17:56)
Kati Gosnell (20:03)