The Melon Run course makes a 3.1-mile loop around Monticello, Florida, going uphill and down. The athletes traverse streets with good pavement and not-so-good pavement. A large part of the race is run on the Monticello Rail Trail. The 5000 meters of running passes neighborhoods, businesses, and parks. Yet of those varied 5000 meters, the runners seem to save their comments for the last 400--the climb up the Water Street hill. It's as if the other 4600 meters of the course didn't exist. Even Chris Lake, the race winner, had a few words about the Water Street hill.
"It was my first time running the course and that finishing hill reminded me of Rose City."
The Thomasville Rose City Run, by the way, is a race that Lake has won four times. Not everyone has curses and nightmare tales about the Water Street hill.
The race started at 8:15 AM on West Washington Street, Monticello's local name for US 90. The runners turned north onto Hickory Street less than 200 yards into the race. On Walnut Street Chris Lake moved out front to stay. By the time Lake passed the mile mark in 5:00 he was in total control of the race. Behind him in second place, Zach DeVeau had also broken away from the rest of the field.
"Everyone was out there running alone today," said DeVeau.
Not quite everyone. In third place, Geb Kiros was leading the masters field after breaking away from Michael Martinez. During the third kilometer, though, master runner Carl Nordhielm overtook Martinez to move into fourth. Then Nordhielm started to chase down Kiros. By the base of the Water Street hill, Nordhielm had pulled within six seconds of Kiros with the finish line coming into sight.
"I glanced back and got worried," said Kiros. "I had a strong finish after that. I wanted to break 18:00."
He did. Lake had already won the race in 16:17, and Deveau was finishing runner-up in 17:18. Kiros motored up the hill, edging away from Nordhielm to hang onto third and the master runner title with a personal best 17:54. Nordhielm was the second master runner, fourth overall in 18:05. Martinez was third in the master standings, third overall in 18:26.
Three of the Melon Run's past women's champions were on the starting line for the 36th running--2011 women's winner Katie Sherron, the 2012 title-holder Seeley Gutierrez, and the 2013 champion Sheryl Rosen. Like Chris Lake in the men's competition, Gutierrez led the women's field early. For Gutierrez, a triathlete, pacing was a concern.
"When you start the run in a triathlon, you're already tired," explained Gutierrez. "You don't feel good enough to go out too fast."
Gutierrez's steady running was fast enough to keep her out in front of the rest of the women's field, though. Neither Rosen nor Sherron challenged her. In fact, after the first kilometer, Rosen was third in the women's field behind Jillian Heddaeus and Sherron was in sixth.
"I ran conservatively because it had been so long since I raced," said Rosen, who is recovering from an injury.
Seeley Gutierrez ended up winning the women's competition by nearly a minute, coming in ninth overall in 19:08. Sheryl Rosen moved up during the race to finish second in the women's standings, 13th overall in 20:02. Sherron likewise gained a few places, finishing third on the women's side in 20:28, good for 16th overall. Anna Busby took the fourth women's spot, 18th in 20:49. Jillian Heddaeus slipped back to fifth, coming in 20th overall in 21:02.
The Melon Run course has changed over 36 years, and the race didn't always finish with a climb up Water Street. Each year, however, there has always been watermelon at the finish for the runners. Of the two traditions, the hill and the watermelon, the watermelon is more popular as well as more enduring.
"Every run should have watermelon," commented one runner.
Sadly, that's not the case. But one run certainly does have watermelon--the Monticello Kiwanis annual 5K Melon Run.
Top Ten Men, 36th annual Melon Run 5K
- 16:16.37 ~ Chris Lake (M, 26)
- 17:17.52 ~ Zach DeVeau (M, 26)
- 17:53.37 ~ Geb Kiros (M, 47)
- 18:04.81 ~ Carl Nordhielm (M, 51)
- 18:25.85 ~ Michael Martinez (M, 48)
- 18:42.53 ~ Jack McDermott (M, 45)
- 18:45.18 ~ Kevin Chin Shue (M, 21)
- 19:00.84 ~ Joel Piotrowski (M, 44)
- 19:20.10 ~ Eric Godin (M, 30)
- 19:25.62 ~ David Harrell (M, 29)
Top Ten Women, 36th annual Melon Run 5K
- 19:07.72 ~ Seeley Gutierrez (F, 37)
- 20:01.12 ~ Sheryl Rosen (F, 30)
- 20:27.87 ~ Katie Sherron (F, 32)
- 20:48.31 ~ Anna Busby (F, 23)
- 21:01.18 ~ Jillian Heddaeus (F, 31)
- 22:41.82 ~ Laura McDermott (F, 34)
- 23:33.59 ~ Paula O'Neill (F, 53)
- 24:05.38 ~ Summer Williams (F, 12)
- 25:11.17 ~ Sarah Dugas (F, 35)
- 25:36.74 ~ Michelle St Onge (F, 33)
|Known winners of the Monticello Melon Run 5K, 1979 - 2014|
|28 June 1980||15:28, Gary Slayton||19:49, Debbie Dickson|
|19 June 1982||15:10, Andy Whitener||17:38, Laura Ledbetter|
|18 June 1983|
|23 June 1984||15:37, Gary Slayton||19:45, Cindy Walker|
|22 June 1985||16:09, Felton Wright||19:12, Barbara Balzer|
|21 June 1986||15:55, Bill Crooks||18:32, Karen MacHarg|
|20 June 1987|
|25 June 1988||15:47, Bill Crooks||18:18, Karen MacHarg|
|24 June 1989||15:02, Jeff Pigg||19:05, Vikki Saga|
|23 June 1990||15:20, Jessie Close||18:06, Karen MacHarg|
|22 June 1991||15:23, Phillip Rowan||19:34, Vikki Saga|
|20 June 1992||15:10, Jessie Close||18:35, Lynda Nilges|
|26 June 1993||16:07, Bill Crooks||19:37, Sue Kany|
|29 June 1994||16:13, Gary Droze||18:49, Sarah Heeb|
|24 June 1995||14:57, John Charlton||19:54, Sissi Carroll|
|22 June 1996|
|28 June 1997|
|27 June 1998||16:33, Tommy Kunish||17:51, Sarah Docter-Williams|
|26 June 1999||16:23, Tommy Kunish||21:05, Peggy Simpson|
|17 June 2000||17:08, Tim Simpkins||18:32, Kim Winn|
|16 June 2001||16:29, Ryan Deak||17:54, Sarah Docter-Williams|
|22 June 2002||17:54, Doug Gorton||21:41, Laura Atlee|
|21 June 2003|
|19 June 2004||17:18, Tim Unger||20:30, Kate Remillard|
|18 June 2005||18:31, Jack McDermott||18:07, Sarah Docter-Williams|
|17 June 2006||17:36, Nathan Haskins||22:35, Loranne Ausley|
|16 June 2007||16:28, Nathan Haskins||18:50, Sarah Docter-Williams|
|21 June 2008||16:08, Nathan Haskins||20:16, Deb Jones|
|20 June 2009||16:54, Charlie Johnson||23:49, Sandy Holt|
|19 June 2010||18:07, Gabriel Leitz||19:59, Micah Adriani|
|18 June 2011||16:38, Sammy Palmer||19:28, Katie Showman|
|16 June 2012||16:28, Stephen Cox||18:59, Seeley Gutierrez|
|15 June 2013||16:42, Stanley Linton||18:49, Sheryl Rosen|
|21 June 2014||16:17, Chris Lake||19:08, Seeley Gutierrez|
- Complete results of the 2014 Monticello Melon Run 5K at gulfwinds.org
- More photos of the 2014 Monticello Melon Run 5K
- Fred Deckert's photos of the 2014 Monticello Melon Run 5K
- 2013 story, "Young runners, old race; Linton and Rosen win in Monticello"
- 2012 story, "Cox and Gutierrez grab the biggest slices at Monticello's 34th Melon Run"
- 2011 story, "Sweet victories for Palmer and Showman at Melon Run"
- 2010 story, "Leitz and Adriani watermelon winners in Monticello"
- USATF course certification map of the Monticello Melon Run 5K
- Find another fruit or vegetable themed race in the Tallahassee region