Monday, July 4, 2011

Banging good runs for Piotrowski and Stout at Firecracker 5000

"[Independence Day] ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
~ John Adams

2011 Firecracker 5000 start
In keeping with Adams' vision of Independence Day games and sports, Washington, D.C. used to have a ten-mile road race every July 4. Atlanta, Georgia still has Peachtree Road Race 10K on the national birthday. And since 1983, Greensboro, Florida has the Firecracker 5000 road race, hosted by the Greensboro Kiwanis.

"That old goat Franklin is not going to pass me on the last mile again!"
~ Thomas Jefferson

Stephanie Stout
Tallahassee's Joel Piotrowski won the 29th annual edition of the Greensboro 5K, running 17:20. Piotrowski was also the morning's fastest master runner. Stephanie Stout posted a 21:35 to take top woman honors. at 22:10 Paula O'Neill was the fastest master woman on the Greensboro roads.

"Aaron Burr says he has run a 4:30 mile, but I want to know who was holding the watch."
~ Alexander Hamilton

Joel PiotrowskiThe race started outside of Greensboro on the Sycamore Road not quite as far west as Sycamore Church. Because of the logistics of busing 73 athletes and a variety of race officials to the starting line, the race didn't get under way till several minutes after the scheduled time of 7:30am. Taking charge of the race early, Piotrowski broke contact with Jeff Armstrong early in the second kilometer of the race and started to run away from the field. After three kilometers Piotrowski had opened up a twenty-second gap, and Armstrong was trying to stay with Cairo's Stephen Robbins, who had moved up to challenge for second place. As the runners approached Greensboro and the finish line, Piotrowski continued to move away, and crossed the finish line at 17:20 with a lead of over 200 meters. Robbins broke away from Armstrong to take the runner-up spot in 18:12. Armstrong held off a late charge by Mickey Moore to hang on to third, 18:25 to 18:31.

"The Gentler Sex ought not to race nor run long distances, instead properly concentrating her energies on the domestick sphere. Besides, I am weary beyond all endurance of Dolly beating me in cross-country races."
~ James Madison

Paula O'Neill, Angela Wable, Stephanie Stout.After a kilometer of racing, Stephanie Stout, Angela Wable, and Paula O'Neill were leading the women. The runners saw the only uphill and downhill of the race on the third kilometer, and that was where O'Neill fell back. With two kilometers to go Stout had a slight lead on Wable, who had won the God & Country 5K two days earlier. But Stout pulled away as the runners came into Greensboro, going on to win in 21:35. About sixty meters back Wable finished as the second woman in 21:50, with O'Neill another seventy meters behind in 22:10 as the third woman and first woman master.

"He who accelerates from behind, wins."
~ Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

Angela Wable
Runners enjoyed several unique features of the race. Both kilometers and miles are marked on the course, and the Greensboro Kiwanis Club treats the athletes to a post-race breakfast. The Firecracker is no Peachtree with 60,000 entries, but Greensboro isn't Atlanta, and Greensboro must be doing something right to keep the Firecracker going for 29 years.

Top Ten Men, 2011 Greensboro Kiwanis Firecracker 5000
  1. Stephen Robbins17:20 Joel Piotrowski (M, 41) Tallahassee, FL
  2. 18:12 Stephen Robbins (M, 14) Cairo, GA
  3. 18:25 Jeff Armstrong (M, 35) Tallahassee, FL
  4. 18:31 Mickey Moore (M, 41) Tallahassee, FL
  5. 19:08 Cole Tessier (M, 28) Tallahassee, FL
  6. 19:32 Jarod Hoffman (M, 16) Tallahassee, FL
  7. 19:40 Steve Barraco (M, 56) Tallahassee, FL
  8. 19:52 David Yon (M, 55) Tallahassee, FL
  9. 19:54 Matt Rowan (M, 42) Quincy, FL
  10. 20:08 Dan Anderson (M, 47) Perry, FL

Top Ten Women, 2011 Greensboro Kiwanis Firecracker 5000
  1. Paula O'Neill21:35 Stephanie Stout (F, 27) Tallahassee, FL
  2. 21:50 Angela Wable (F, 37) Tallahassee, FL
  3. 22:10 Paula O'Neill (F, 50) Tallahassee, FL
  4. 24:40 Sally Marzen (F,
  5. 24:54 Sandra Canada (F, 49) Woodville, FL
  6. 26:04 Carson Durrance (F, 40) Tallahassee, FL
  7. 28:14 Birgit Maier-Katkin (F, 48) Tallahassee, FL
  8. 29:05 Suzanne Sink (F,
  9. 30:13 Patricia Dugan (F, 61) Tallahassee, FL
  10. 30:40 Susan Fitzgerald (F, 54) Bristol, FL

Recent winners of the Greensboro Firecracker 5000m
4 July 2011
Joel Piotrowski (17:20)
Stephanie Stout (21:35)
3 July 2010
Cliff Skelton (18:45)
Nancy Stedman (22:44)
4 July 2009
Daniel Lee (16:46)
Emily Ness (19:26)
4 July 2008

4 July 2007
Tony Guillen (18:05)
Julie Clark (21:51)
4 July 2006
James Cook (17:40)
Julia Vola (20:03)
4 July 2005
Jeff Dubias (16:44)
Heather Bailey (20:30)
3 July 2004
Caleb Carmichael (15:48)
Kara Newell (18:39)
4 July 2003

4 July 2002
Jason Fulghum (16:57)
Janice Hochstein (22:07)
4 July 2001
Paul Hoover (17:22)
Sarah Docter-Williams (17:53)
4 July 2000
Gary Droze (15:57)
Sarah Docter-Williams (18:10)
4 July 1999
Tim Simpkins (16:37)
Sarah Docter-Williams (17:56)
4 July 1998
Damian Wilson (16:05)
Sarah Docter-Williams (17:35)



  1. NICE blog, Herb!! I liked the "dead road kill snake" touch somewhere around 1.5 KM. Love this race and glad they had such a good turnout this year.

  2.'ve outdone yourself on this one, Herb! I love all of your blogs but these quotes take the cake. Fabulous photo with first, second, & third females, too. As I was traveling to AZ today, I knew I'd be able to get on here, read your recap, & as usual feel like I was there this morning. Thanks!
    Happy 4th of July to you & Judi!

  3. Turnout was actually a bit down from last year. Attendance is sometimes just a matter of getting the word out. For instance, while I was lounging around the side of the road on the second kilometer, a pick-up truck stopped next to me.

    "Hey, man, what race is this?" the driver asked.

    "The Greensboro Firecracker 5000."

    "Oh, man! I wish I had known about it! I'm from St. Pete and I would have run!"


  4. This is always a fun & unique race. Thanks for covering it in words and pictures. I love old races and this has 39 yrs of history. This was my 3rd year and I'll be back.

  5. Cole,

    I want to say that like the Rose City 10K, the Firecracker 5000 has always been run on the same course. But then some other fogey will correct me and say that in the 1980s they ran out-and-back toward Quincy, or twenty times around City Hall.


  6. Great pictures Herb...I especially like the last picture of Stephen swatting at gnats and me trying not to breath them in. Ahhh...Summers in the south.

  7. The gnats were fierce. If Camilla sent them over to promote the Gnat Days 5K, then I wish they'd come up with a different advertising gimmick.


  8. Herb,
    I loved the quotes from yesteryear...they gave your report that "historical novel" feel (or is it "hysterical and novel"??

    Anyway, the course IS basically the same as ever. Terry Presnell measured the course with a wheel for the inaugural edition, and when I re-measured it for certification years later, it was within a few yards of being right on the money! Good job, Terry!

  9. Bill,

    Thank you for the history on the course! I suspected nothing had changed, because it's not like there would have needed to be a re-route due to major highway construction or a new mall in Greensboro. But you never know--Monticello hasn't changed much more than Greensboro, but Montcello's Melon Run has changed courses during 33 annual runnings.

    Thanks again!


  10. If any local race deserves those old quotes it is the Firecracker 5000.

  11. Cole,

    The Adams quote is authentic, but it seemed lonely by itself, so I found some friends for it.