Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kunish and Stevens are the fastest Flashers in St. Marks

I was standing along the new course for the Flash 12K about five kilometers from the start when the leader, Tommy Kunish, came around a bend.

"Herb!" he called out. "How far is 12K? 7.2 miles? 7.4?"

"7.5!" I shouted as he ran by.

"So the halfway is at 3.2?"

"Three-and-three-quarters!" I called at his back.

No one who knew Kunish while he was running cross country at Florida State would be at all surprised.

But Kunish has run on the United State Marine Corps' marathon team, so he was able to overcome the handicap of not knowing just how long a race he was running to win Gulf Winds Track Club's 23rd annual Flash 12K on Saturday morning, 19 February 2011. Kunish ran 40:57, holding off a late charge by runner-up Nate Kaiser (41:03). Jay Wallace took top master honors, running third in 41:53. Kelly Stevens was the woman's champion, placing 23rd in 49:23, well ahead of runner-up Brandi Campbell (28th, 50:20). Mary Anne Grayson (34th, 52:23) of Thomasville was the first female master and the fifth woman finisher overall.

The race was forced to a new venue by work on the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Rail Trail on the old course near Woodville, and the 2011 Flash 12K started in the town of St. Marks from the front of Fort San Marcos de Apalachee State Park. Brian Manry led the runners through the streets of St. Marks, closely followed by Kunish. John Robida, Jay Wallace, and Nate Kaiser were not far behind. After two kilometers the race turned onto the St. Marks Trail, where Kunish took control of the race. As Manry fell back, Robida moved into second near the end of the third kilometer. At five kilometers Kunish led Robida by 21 seconds. Robida couldn't keep up the pursuit, though, and by early in the second half of the race he had lost his position to Kaiser and Wallace. Kaiser began to close on Kunish. Just past nine kilometers Kaiser was 18 seconds down, but the gap was narrowing. By the last turn on the course, just 300 meters from the finish, Kunish was only three seconds up on Kaiser. But Kunish ran away on the final stretch to win 40:57 to 41:03.

Top Ten Men, Flash 12K
  1. Thomas Kunish (M, 30) 40:57
  2. Nate Kaiser (M, 31) 41:03
  3. Jay Wallace (M, 46) 41:53
  4. John Robida (M, 30) 42:33
  5. Christopher Coutts (M, 37) 44:15
  6. Douglas Bell (M, 42) 44:27
  7. Brian Manry (M, 32) 44:37
  8. Michael Martinez (M, 45) 45:00
  9. Keith Howell (M, 28) 45:07
  10. David Knauf (M, 46) 45:21

Top Ten Women, Flash 12K
  1. Kelly Stevens (F, 29) 49:23
  2. Brandi Campbell (F, 35) 50:20
  3. Katie Showman (F, 29) 50:30
  4. Micah Adriani (F, 33) 52:01
  5. Mary Anne Grayson (F, 45) 52:23
  6. Kristine Cox (F, 33) 54:30
  7. Julie Clark (F, 49) 54:42
  8. Stephanie Stout (F, 26) 55:01
  9. Ashley Daily (F, 24) 55:28
  10. Christienne Coutts (F, 39) 56:06

Ten-year-old Caleb Harris of Bainbridge, Georgia won the associated six-kilometer race, running 23:59 ahead of runner-up James Dexter's 24:31. Douglas McMurray (3rd, 25:33) was the first master finisher. Ashton McMurray (11th, 31:26) finished as first female in the 6K, with Michele Bagget (19th, 33:18) second. Barbara Yonclas (20th, 34:10) was the top woman master.

Top Ten Men, Flash 6K
  1. Caleb Harris (M, 10) 23:59
  2. James Dexter (M, 26) 24:31
  3. Douglas McMurray (M, 46) 25:33
  4. Ryan Fitzgerald (M, 31) 26:13
  5. Mike Culligan (M, 36) 27:24
  6. David Savary (M, 45) 27:53
  7. Robert Whitehurst (M, 22) 29:33
  8. Robert Champlin (M, 41) 30:12
  9. Chris Dexter (M, 29) 31:03
  10. Cory Cardoza (M, 35) 31:19

Top Ten Women, Flash 6K
  1. Ashton McMurray (F, 15) 31:26
  2. Michele Baggett (F, 35) 33:18
  3. Barbara Yonclas (F, 63) 34:10
  4. Marisol Townsend (F, 33) 34:21
  5. Marly Upcavage (F, 20) 35:12
  6. Shelby Murphy (F, 16) 35:15
  7. Veronica Durham (F, 21) 35:22
  8. Maria Matheu (F, 32) 35:30
  9. Sara Rysavy (F, 16) 35:31
  10. Courtney Heidelberg (F, 33) 35:54



  1. Thanks for taking pictures. It was a great race and the weather was beautiful.

    Having the 10 year old win the 6k was unique. I won't forget this race for that reason alone.

    I like the course going through town a little bit. The trail can get boring after a while. I hope they keep it this way.

  2. Hey Herb,
    Switch Mike Culligan's age to 36 from 26 (he was fifth overall in the 6k).
    You got any info on Caleb? I know this is the third year he has ran the Flash, and that this years' pace would put him below 20 minutes for a 5k (19:58 if my race calculator is working). Any idea what the 10-year old record is in Big Bend for a 5k?

  3. Thanks, Todd. The correction is made.

    Dividing by six and multiplying by five, I came up with sub-20 as well. No one keeps track of local times, unfortunately, but everyone wishes someone did when any sort of exceptional performance comes up. USATF used to have some state record keepers, though.


  4. Here's a little more on the 5K record issue. Caleb is from Georgia (Bainbridge). As of 23 April 2010 the Georgia Association of USATF recognized 18:27 as the age 10-11 state record for 5K on the roads. The record was set in 1993 by ten-year-old Jacob Lonberg of Barnesville, Georgia. This is from a list of Georgia age-group records that I found here.


  5. Great writeup, Herb - I hated to have to miss this race due to being out of town for my daughter's event. I will probably never meet the moniker "fast flasher" but it's always fun to try!

  6. Maybe I should have saved the term "Flasher" for the folks in the Mardi Gras Trail Run?