Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sizzler runners beat BP to St. George Island

I was hesitant about making the trip to the coast for this year's St. George Island Sizzler 5K. After all, it is close to a hundred miles from Tallahassee. But as race day approached, the drive didn't seem quite as long. By that morning I was thinking fondly of the highway through Tate's Hell. Some depressing news reports reminded me that this might be one of the last chances to see St. George Island before the white sandy beaches got a new color scheme courtesy of British Petroleum. So by 4:00pm on Saturday, 26 June 2010, I was on the road out of town to watch the 12th annual St. George Island Sizzler.

Scattered thunderstorms had moderated the temperatures inland, but on the island skies were clear and it was just plain hot. The sea breeze was too gentle to be of much comfort. The shade was pleasant--too bad there was none on the course. Having established that it was going to be a hot race, I decided to check and see if the 5K was starting at 7:30pm ET as posted on the entry form, or if it was starting at any old time after the one-mile fun run as it had last year. The ubiquitous Bill Lott was helping set up the finish line, so I checked with him.

"7:30!" he declared. "The time that's on the entry form! Hobson said that he was sure to make some mistakes this year, but he wouldn't make that one again."

If race director Hobson Fulmer was determined to start on schedule, then it would be my own fault if I missed the start. Reassured, I found a hiding place out of the sun, emerging only to watch the one-milers set out. Soon enough it was time for the main event. Quite close to exactly 7:30pm, the runners set out.

In spite of the heat, more than a few runners set out at too optimistic pace. It was a self-correcting error. Halfway through the race a group of four led the field, headed by Carl Nordhielm and Tim Unger. Over the last two kilometers Nordhielm shed his challengers, finally dropping Unger and going on to finish both as the overall winner and the first master runner in. Behind Nordhielm, Marathon Jack McDermott had trailed the leaders, running back in seventh place as late as the three-kilometer mark. But during the second half of the race, McDermott steadily picked up places, moving past runners spent by the heat or by the hot pace of Nordhielm. Finally, in a near-replay of the previous weeks Melon Run, McDermott overtook Unger 200 meters from the finish line and went on to finish in the runner-up spot.

The women's competition saw Nancy Stedman moving to the top spot and staying there to take the title. Like Nordhielm in the men's race, Stedman was also the first master across the line among the women. The race for runner-up was closer, but once again a McDermott prevailed, as Laura McDermott took second.

As the last of the finishers moved into the finish chute, race director Hobson Fulmer looked relieved. The event had gone off seamlessly and the heat hadn't killed anyone. "It was even hotter than last year," said Fulmer. "These were the slowest winning times ever, and there were some fast runners out there."

Well, maybe. I remember the heat being even more awful in 2009, but I'll concede the point rather than look up the relevant weather reports. Either way, it's the conditions you'd expect from the "Sizzler." And let's forget that "slowest winning times" business. Outrunning everyone who shows up on race day is good enough; it's not necessary to beat twelve years of "Sizzler" runners.

St. George Island Sizzler 5K Champions, 1998-2010
13 June 1998
Gary Droze (16:09)Donna Finney (22:53)
12 June 1999
Tim Unger (17:05)Summer Calder (19:24)
10 June 2000
Gary Droze (16:07)
Julie Clark (21:18)
15 June 2002
Lee Willis (15:46)
Luanne Coulter (18:43)
21 June 2003
Caleb Carmichael (16:44)
Jane Johnson (20:45)
12 June 2004
Caleb Carmichael (16:42)Kara Newell (19:48)
18 June 2005
Alex Miletich (16:02)
Angela Dempsey (20:53)
24 June 2006
Robert Beazley (17:24)
Kara Newell (18:39)
23 June 2007
Jasen Fulghum (17:02)
Jane Johnson (20:41)
28 June 2008
Tripp Southerland (16:44)
Stephanie Liles (19:11)
27 June 2009
John Robida (16:53)
Kelsey Scheitlin (19:47)
26 June 2010
Carl Nordhielm (19:06)
Nancy Stedman (22:06)



  1. Great report and photos, Herb! I felt like I was there!

    Thanks for taking the time to make it fun for all of us, especially those who don't show up for the event.


  2. I concur. Thanks for the report and pictures for those who couldn't make it. Hope to see you in Greensboro.

    I cannot imagine it was actually hotter than last year. I've never run a race hotter than the 2009 sizzler.

  3. Thanks, Judy and Cole!

    Having gone to SGI and just stood around in 2009 and 2010, I didn't get the full effect of the temperature. Now, the Critter Run in Dothan, I have run there and And there's a hill or two. Good race, though, and a great post race!