Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hunter Potts takes the Possum Trot in Wausau

Hunter PottsFor more summers than anyone seems able to remember the northwest Florida village of Wausau has hosted the Possum Trot 5K road race. The run is part of Wausau's annual Possum Festival which has been around since 1970, but it doesn't seem likely that the Possum Trot goes back that far. The area's veteran runners are as perplexed by the question as I am, and tend to confuse the race with the Hot Trot in nearby Chipley. After a few decades, one hot humid 3.1-mile run starts to seem like another.
Possum Plop

Hot and humid was indeed the order of business on Saturday morning, 3 August 2013, when athletes started to gather at the Possum Palace for the umpteenth annual renewal of the race honoring Wausau's favorite marsupial. You could hardly expect any other sort of conditions in August, though, and the Wausau Volunteer Fire Department, the host of the race, was ready for the weather, with plenty of water sprays on the course.

Possum Trot startThe course itself was out and back, starting and finishing on Jefferson Street on the east side of Possum Palace Park. After 300 meters on that shady lane, the course spilled the runners out onto Pioneer Road, where shade was only a memory. Not that many competitors were thinking about the sun; they were too busy trying to negotiate the hills on their way to and from the turnaround on Pioneer Road. Each quarter mile was marked, with the additional course marking shaped like squashed possums to reassure the runners that they were on course.

Michael Martinez and Ben McLainThe race got under way at 7:30 AM CT. Ben McLain led the field at the turn onto Pioneer Road, with Tallahassee master runner Michael Martinez pacing the pursuit seven seconds back. Graceville's Hunter Potts was tucked back in fourth place, but he wouldn't stay there long. Potts quickly moved up into third on Pioneer Road, then passed Martinez and set his sights on McLain. By the time Potts finished the first mile in 5:41 he was out in front, thirteen seconds ahead of McLain. Potts was still way out front at the turnaround, and was even farther ahead when he hit the two mile mark at 11:16. Maintaining his pace, Potts crossed the finish line first in 17:28. Behind Potts, Martinez caught McLain during the final mile, then pulled ahead with 600 meters to go to take the runner-up spot  in 19:10, finishing as first master. McLain was third in 19:37.

Val Lichner and Kim AllanBonifay, Florida master runner Val Lichner was the first woman off of Jefferson Street. On the long, rolling trek along Pioneer Road, though, another master runner pulled even with Lichner--Kim Allan of Panama City . Just half a kilometer from the finish Lichner and Allan were still racing side by side. Allan opened a gap on the final stretch along Jefferson, charging across the line to take the women's title with a 24:28, good for 19th overall. Lichner was the women's runner up, finishing 20th overall in 24:34.

145 athletes completed the course of Wausau's 2013 Possum Trot 5K.

Top Ten Males, 2013 Wausau Possum Trot 5K
  1. 17:28 ~ Hunter Potts (M, 21) Graceville, FL
  2. 19:10 ~ Michael Martinez (M, 47) Tallahassee, FL
  3. 19:37 ~ Ben McLain (M, 38) Conyers, GA
  4. 20:11 ~ Mark Clements (M, 36) Alford, FL
  5. 20:39 ~ Dale Thomas (M, 50) Taylor, AL
  6. 20:57 ~ Nicholas Lewis (M, 28)
  7. 22:08 ~ Thomas Newell (M, 27) Dothan, AL
  8. 22:26 ~ Dale Nash (M, 62) Dothan, AL
  9. 22:45 ~ Jay Wrenn (M, 49) Dothan, AL
  10. 22:54 ~ Eric Hudson (M, 40) Bonifay, FL

Top Ten Females, 2013 Wausau Possum Trot 5K
  1. 24:28 ~ Kim Allan (F, 43) Panama City, FL
  2. 24:34 ~ Val Lichner (F, 54) Bonifay, FL
  3. 26:44 ~ Gina Spease (F, 33) Southport, FL
  4. 26:49 ~ Robin Walters (F, 51) Panama City, FL
  5. 26:54 ~ Jill Wofsey (F, 50) Alford, FL
  6. 27:08 ~ Lila Taylor (F,
  7. 27:18 ~ Shannon White (F,
  8. 27:20 ~ Marty Kirkland (F, 60) Southport, FL
  9. 27:24 ~ Cindy Weir (F,
  10. 27:28 ~ Kristina Bennett (F, 40) Dothan, AL

Known champions of the Wausau Possum Trot 5K, 1981-2013
3 Aug 201317:28, Hunter Potts24:28, Kim Allen145
4 Aug 201218:22, Hunter Potts19:48, Hadley Nyquist144
6 Aug 201117:41, Matt Dobson20:17, Hadley Miller97
7 Aug 201017:12, Matt Dobson19:32, Hadley Nyquist102
1 Aug 200917:59, David Shearon20:48, Sara White141
2 Aug 200816:13, Matt Dobson21:43, Lou Ellen Jayroe107
4 Aug 200718:19, Brian Goddin22:37, In-Mi Matsunaga92
5 Aug 200617:24, Brian Goddin21:56, Lauren Eschbach87
No race held 1998-2005; revived by Frank and Carol Kreis in 2006.
2 Aug 199717:10, Matt Dobson20:37, Julie Clark56
3 Aug 1996?????????
5 Aug 199517:14, Dale Thomas22:08, Marty Kirkland70
6 Aug 199415:55, Gary Droze20:00, Sammy Calder89
7 Aug 199317:11, Dale Thomas20:43, Val Casalini70
2 Aug 1992???19:26, Donna Duty
3 Aug 199115:30, Matt Dobson19:48, Belinda Warnack111
4 Aug 199015:52, Swag Hartel18:39, Chris Myers120
5 Aug 198918:44*, David Keen22:15*, Sylvia Sanchez166
6 Aug 198815:40, Paul Buchanan20:33, Tracey Pepoon183
1 Aug 198715:54, Scott Simmons19:06, Janice Hochstein159
3 Aug 198516:52*, Paul Hough22:21*, Donna Duty145
4 Aug 19849:43*, Paul Buchanan12:16*, Donna Duty121
6 Aug 198316:00, Paul Buchanan20:05, Donna Duty141
7 Aug 198215:46, Keith Lee19:26, Sarah Kramer176
1 Aug 198115:59, Paul Hough19:25, Terri Cramer97
* Problems controlling the turn-around point on the Possum Trot's 
out-and-back course during the 1980s led to uncertain distances. The
1984 race is believed to have been 2 miles, the 1985 race about 3.4
miles, and the 1989 race 3.8 miles.

A huge thank you to Larry Dykes of the Dothan Runners Club for
most of the information in this table!


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