Saturday, May 17, 2014

Howell and Miles net wins at Blountstown's Catfish Crawl

Thomas HowellHeading west on Florida's state road 20, you'll pass a sign announcing "Blountstown--A River City." The river is the Apalachicola, which you just crossed. Blountstown is in the heart of the Florida Panhandle, and the Apalachicola was once the main artery through that heart. Riverboats gave way to trains and railroads, which were themselves replaced by highways. Blountstown's once-busy river landing serves mostly recreational boaters now. The Marianna & Blountstown Railroad is gone, the Blountstown Greenway Rail Trail in its place.

On Saturday morning, 17 May 2014, the Greenway was the site of the Blountstown Fire Department's third annual Catfish Crawl 5K. The race started just after 8:00 AM, with over 100 athletes headed south on the Greenway's paved path, twelve feet wide and shady. By the end of the first mile a lead group of three runners was well out in front of the rest of the field--Thomas Howell, David Seymour, and Elijah Sarmiento. Sarmiento, a rising sophomore on the Wewahitchka High cross-country team, wasn't with the group much longer. On the way to the turnaround at the halfway point Sarmiento fell behind, leaving a two-man race--Howell and Seymour.

David SeymourTwo weeks earlier Thomas Howell, a rising senior at Blountstown High, had wrapped up his track season at the State Finals in Jacksonville, placing 15th in the 1600-meter run. That same weekend David Seymour was out racing on the road of Fort Rucker, Alabama, winning the annual Army Ten-Miler Run-Off. This Saturday morning, though, the high school track star and the US Army staff sergeant were going head-to-head in the 5K.

Howell and Seymour passed the two-mile mark together. They were still racing side by side well into the third mile when Howell made his move.

Elijah Sarmiento"I surged with about three-quarters of a mile to go, about a 20-second surge," said Howell. "I kept going from there, pushing to the finish."

The surge was enough to drop Seymour. After finishing third in the 2012 Catfish Crawl and second in the 2013 race, Howell won on his third try with a 17:23. Seymour was second in 17:44, and Sarmiento third in 18:16.

Taking fourth place in 20:08, Travis Miller was the first master runner in the race. Miller had been back in sixth at the halfway point. After grabbing a drink at the turnaround, though, he switched to a faster gear for the race home. Miller picked up two places on the way to the finish, passing rival master runner Mark McCarron.

Lydia MilesWomen's winner Lydia Miles didn't start out in front, either. Early in the race she was running back in fourth in the women's field. The runner from Wewahitchka wasn't worried, though.

"I let other people go out too fast and then I move up," explained Miles.

Miles knew her pace. Early in the second mile of the race she passed Blountstown High senior Missy Newsome to take the lead in the women's competition. Miles never needed to look back after that, going on to win the Catfish Crawl women's title in 25:05, finishing 26th overall. She was also the first master woman in the race. Another master runner, Paulette Bryant, was runner-up in the women's standings, coming in 32nd overall in 26:07. Mitzi Woods was the third woman finisher, 33rd overall in 26:09.

117 athletes finished the 3.1-mile race. The Blountstown Fire Department uses proceeds from the race for their scholarship fund, with which they award a deserving Blountstown High senior a full scholarship to the Chipola College Fire Academy.

Top Ten Men, 2014 Catfish Crawl 5K
    Travis Miller, Mark McCarra, Lonnie Pitts
  1. 17:23 ~ Thomas Howell (M, 17) Blountstown, FL
  2. 17:44 ~ David Seymour (M, 26)
  3. 18:16 ~ Elijah Sarmiento (M, 15)
  4. 20:08 ~ Travis Miller (M, 44)
  5. 20:30 ~ Micah McCaskill (M, 16)
  6. 20:59 ~ Mark McCarron (M, 48)
  7. 21:18 ~ Eric Layne (M, 30)
  8. 21:46 ~ Lonnie Pitts (M, 21)
  9. 21:53 ~ Marc Tomlinson (M, 36)
  10. 22:21 ~ Jessie B. Smith (M, 51)

Top Ten Women, 2014 Catfish Crawl 5K
    Paulette Bryant
  1. 25:05 ~ Lydia Miles (F, 41) Wewahitchka, FL
  2. 26:07 ~ Paulette Bryant (F, 42)
  3. 26:09 ~ Mitzi Woods (F, 38)
  4. 26:18 ~ Missy Newsome (F, 17)
  5. 26:30 ~ Ruth Ann Eberly (F, 58)
  6. 26:36 ~ Robyn Griffin (F, 38)
  7. 26:43 ~ Kreirstin Mosher (F, 14)
  8. 27:12 ~ Erin Schwager (F, 40)
  9. 27:21 ~ Danielle Miller Cameron (F, 12)
  10. 27:21 ~ Mary Holley (F, 54)

Blountstown Fire Department Catfish Crawl 5K champions, 2012-2014
19 May 201217:45, Billy Naylor21:41, Hannah Plazarin96
18 May 201316:38, Billy Naylor23:45, Hannah Plazarin128
17 May 201417:23, Thomas Howell25:05, Lydia Miles117


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