Sunday, May 17, 2015

Martinez wins a duel on the Greenway

Kristi Johnson, Paula O'NeillThe American collegiate track-and-field world was busy the weekend of Saturday, 16 May 2015. Many of the major players were in the middle of their conference championship meetings, including the ACC in Tallahassee, the Atlantic Sun Conference in Jacksonville, the SEC in Starkeville, the Pac-12 in Los Angeles, and the Can't-Count-Very-Well Conference in East Lansing. You didn't have to be at one of those tracks to see some exciting racing, though. For instance, on the Blountstown Greenway Trail in Blountstown, Florida, that Saturday morning, you could have seen the finish of a down-to-the-wire race in the fourth annual Catfish Crawl 5K, where Michael Martinez eked out a win over Tom Dever, 17:47 to 17:49.

"He was a machine!" Martinez said of Dever. "He was chatting out there."

Dever wasn't carrying on a monologue, though; Martinez was part of the conversation. Once the other athletes had fallen back, the two master runners agreed to take turns at pacing duty during the rest of the race. Dever was leading about 600 meters from the finish line, where the trail took the runners under State Road 20 and onto a boardwalk.

Michael Martinez, Tom Dever"He [Dever] said the footbridge was slippery so I made my move there," said Martinez. "But he came back on me. So I waited until about a tenth to go and then we kicked it out."

Of the two master runners Martinez had the better kick that day, making it over the finish line a few meters ahead of Dever. Blountstown High frosh Jesse Boyd was third in 19:26. Deerlake Middle School seventh-grader Spencer Amsellem was fourth in 20:36 and Mariana master runner Mark McCarra placed fifth in 21:33.

There weren't any finish-line dramatics in the women's competition, but it wasn't a cakewalk, either. Kristi Johnson led the women's field at the mile mark, but Tallahassee master runner Paula O'Neill was just a few steps back.

"I was running from Paula," said Johnson. "I knew she was back there and she's crazy fast so I was running scared."

Kristi JohnsonFrightened or not, Johnson started to open a gap, eventually breaking contact. Johnson reached the finish line about 100 meters ahead of O'Neill, placing seventh overall in 22:41 and winning the women's title. O'Neill was ninth overall in 23:10, the first woman master and second female finisher. The 2014 Catfish Crawl women's champion, Wewahitchka master runner Lydia Miles, was third in the women's standings, coming in 16th overall in 24:07. Lessa Bates was the fourth female finisher, 20th overall in 24:49.

"I've only been running for six months so I've never run the Catfish Crawl before," said Kristi Johnson. "The course was beautiful, the trail is well maintained, the race is well organized, Ben Hall does a great job with everything. I just can't say enough good things about the race. It's probably one of the best races I've been to."

Testimonials don't get much more positive than that.

A record 135 athletes finished the 2015 Catfish Crawl 5K. 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. Timing and finish line services were provided by Warrior Race Timing of Panama City, Florida.

Top Ten Men, 2015 Catfish Crawl 5K
  1. 17:46.36 ~ Michael Martinez (M, 41)Jesse Boyd, Micah McCaskill
  2. 17:48.11 ~ Tom Dever (M, 57)
  3. 19:25.04 ~ Jesse Boyd (M, )
  4. 20:35.90 ~ Spencer Amsellem (M, 13)
  5. 21:32.02 ~ Mark McCarra (M, 50)
  6. 22:06.85 ~ Micah McCaskill (M, 17)
  7. 22:49.02 ~ Mike Barr (M, )
  8. 23:17.45 ~ George Gonzalez (M, 56)
  9. 23:20.32 ~ Jim Tully (M, 68)
  10. 23:44.96 ~ Michael Wright (M, 42)

Top Ten Women, 2015 Catfish Crawl 5K
  1. 22:40.65 ~ Kristi Johnson (F, 37)Lydia Miles, Taryn Dobson
  2. 23:09.84 ~ Paula O'Neill (F, 53)
  3. 24:07.00 ~ Lydia Miles (F, 42)
  4. 24:48.52 ~ Lessa Bates (F, 31)
  5. 25:06.45 ~ Joanna Ayers (F, 20)
  6. 25:48.81 ~ Taryn Dobson (F, )
  7. 26:06.28 ~ Tonya Windham (F, 39)
  8. 26:14.81 ~ Stephanie Kunkel (F, 35)
  9. 26:51.96 ~ Shann Layne (F, 32)
  10. 27:19 ~ Ruth Ann Eberly (F, 59)

Blountstown Fire Department Catfish Crawl 5K champions, 2012 - 2015
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
15 May 201517:47, Michael Martinez22:41, Kristi Johnson135


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