The run started at 8:30 AM on the paved roads in Wakulla Springs State Park, but before the runners had gone 400 meters they were across highway 61 and headed toward Cherokee Sink on a one-lane dirt road, a green tunnel through the forest. Lane Williams was out front on the way to the sink. At the halfway point of the race, near the sink itself, the runners reversed course to return to Wakulla Springs. Williams was nearly 100 meters ahead at the start of the return trip, with Reikan Lin in second and Tallahassee master runner Joel Piotrowski trailing in third. Williams was as far ahead as he would ever get, though. On the way back, Lin and Piotrowski started to close the gap. The race was on.
"In the woods he [Williams] looked back," Lin recalled about the race back from the sink. "He saw me and picked up the pace."
Williams was still in front coming out of the forest, but Lin was right behind him as they re-crossed highway 61. Back on pavement with less than half a kilometer to go, Lin passed Williams and started to open a gap. With the finish line approaching, Williams accelerated one more time, but Lin had gotten too far ahead. It was Lin for the win, 19:23 to 19:28. Piotrowski was the top master in the race, finishing third overall in 19:42.
It may have been a valedictory race for Lin, who is leaving the Tallahassee area to pursue graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lin may be giving up running in Florida, but he isn't giving up running. "I'm already starting to check out the running scene up there," he said.
Madison Harris, on the other hand, should be in the Tallahassee area for at least a few more years. When Harris won the first Freedom Run 5K in 2013, she had hardly ever run a 5K before. By the time she had finished running cross country for Wakulla High that fall, though, she had run quite a few 5K races. One of those was the state championship, where she placed ninth. Early in 2014, right before track season, Harris signed a National Letter of Intent to compete for Florida State University starting in fall 2014. That means that Harris will be in the area, but it also meant that Seminole Coach Karen Harvey had something to say about Harris' race at Wakulla.
"She wanted me to run it as a workout," explained Harris. "I was supposed to run 6:30 pace."
Coach Harvey should hope that all her athletes follow instruction so closely. To the nearest second, 6:30 per mile pace for a 5K is 20:12, the exact time that Harris ran. Harris followed Renee Cox at the front of the women's field for the first half of the race, then passed Cox on the way back from Cherokee Sink. After that the race belonged to Harris. Cox was the women's runner-up, finishing sixth overall in 21:07. Kayla Webbe edged out Cora Atkinson for third in the women's standings, both runners clocked in 22:32. Paula O'Neill was the first woman master, coming in 16th overall in 23:40.
82 athletes finished the race. The event was hosted by the Wakulla High Cross-Country Boosters as a fundraiser for the school's cross-country program.
Top Ten Men, 2014 Freedom 5K
- 19:22.67 ~ Reikan Lin (M, 24) Tallahassee, FL
- 19:27.26 ~ Lane Williams (M, 18) Crawfordville, FL
- 19:41.92 ~ Joel Piotrowski (M, 44) Tallahassee, FL
- 20:15.40 ~ Shane Varn (M, 25) Tallahassee, FL
- 21:30.34 ~ Mathias Laywell (M, 16) Tallahassee, FL
- 21:36.22 ~ Michael Kennett (M, 40) Tallahassee, FL
- 21:54.91 ~ Michael LaBossiere (M, 48) Tallahassee, FL
- 22:13.87 ~ Josh Dismuke (M, 21) Crawfordville, FL
- 22:26.77 ~ Eric Laywell (M, 49) Tallahassee, FL
- 23:35.19 ~ David Anderson (M, 63) Tallahassee, FL
Top Ten Women, 2014 Freedom 5K
- 20:12.00 ~ Madison Harris (F, 18) Panacea, FL
- 21:06.93 ~ Renee Cox (F, 27) Tallahassee, FL
- 22:31.75 ~ Kayla Webbe (F, 17) Chesterfield, FL
- 22:31.98 ~ Cora Atkinson (F, 20) Crawfordville, FL
- 23:05.52 ~ Urska Dobersek (F, 31) Tallahassee, FL
- 23:39.67 ~ Paula O'Neill (F, 53) Tallahassee, FL
- 23:45.52 ~ Margaret Wiedeman (F, 18) Crawfordville, FL
- 23:51.68 ~ Jennifer Shafer (F, 46) Tallahassee, FL
- 24:34.43 ~ Layla Thompson (F, 9) Tallahassee, FL
- 24:46.77 ~ Elizabeth Stevens (F, 34) Crawfordville, FL
|Freedom 5K winners, 2013-2014|
|29 June 2013||17:33, Stanley Linton||21:12, Madison Harris||107|
|28 June 2014||19:23, Reikan Lin||20:12, Madison Harris||82|
- Complete results of the Wakulla HS Cross-Country Boosters' 2014 Freedom 5K at gulfwinds.org
- More photos of the Wakulla HS Cross-Country Boosters' 2014 Freedom 5K
- Fred Deckert's photos of the Wakulla HS Cross-Country Boosters' 2014 Freedom 5K
- 2013 story, "Linton and Harris break loose at Freedom 5K"
- Find another upcoming race supporting scholastic cross country on the Trouble Afoot! calendar