Saturday, July 4, 2015

Potter and Churchill have a blast at the Firecracker 5K

2015 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5KWith less than 200 meters left in Tallahassee's Firecracker 5K, Ty Murray overtook the leader of the race, Michael Potter. But Potter had enough left in the tank to outkick Murray, winning the Independence Day race 17:00 to 17:01. Alyson Churchill was the first female finisher, placing 21st overall in 19:23.

Saturday morning, 4 July 2015, was the 33rd annual Firecracker 5K, the third time that Capital City Kiwanis had held the race in Tallahassee and the second time that it had been run in Cascades Park. This year the start was on Suwanee Street, just west of where the Edison Restaurant is taking shape. Nearly 400 athletes set out just after 8:00 AM, heading toward East Lafayette Street. Ohio Northern University distance runner Michael Potter charged to the front, getting 14 seconds ahead of the field by the end of the first kilometer. After two kilometers Potter had expanded that gap to 26 seconds, but his pursuers hadn't surrendered yet.

At that point there were eight runners in the chase group. By the four-kilometer mark the chase group was down to four runners--Nate Kaiser, Roger Schmidt, Ty Murray, and Avery Bartlett--and they were only eight seconds behind Potter.

Michael Potter, Ty Murray"I thought we could catch him," said Murray. Murray is a recent graduate of Chiles High, where he was part of state championship teams in both track and cross country. He plans to run for Florida State in the fall, but on Independence Day his plan was to run down Michael Potter.

On the trail around Boca Chuba pond Murray passed Potter. After four-and-a-half kilometers out front, the Ohio Northern Klondike had lost the lead. Potter didn't fold, though. He hung with Murray on Suwanee Street, past the Edison, then shot ahead just before the finish line to take first in 17:00. Murray was second in 17:01.

"He went out hard," said Murray about Potter. "He really went after it, so he deserved to win."

Nate KaiserA few seconds later Roger Schmidt of Capital City runners finished third in 17:07. Avery Bartlett was fourth in 17:11, and Nate Kaiser fifth in 17:15. Maclay School cross country coach Gary Droze was the fastest master runner in the race, coming in fifth overall in 17:45.

Just like Potter had gone to the front early in the men's competition, Alyson Churchill was soon leading the women's field. A Swift Creek Middle School runner, Churchill had run the 2014 Firecracker 5K in 24:09, trotting alongside her sister Megan. This year Alyson Churchill was racing.

"Sheryl [Rosen] and I started out ahead of Alyson, but she passed us early," recalled Jillian Heddaeus. "She was gone."

Alyson ChurchillHalfway through the race Sheryl Rosen was the only woman with a chance of catching Churchill, and Rosen was twenty seconds behind. Rosen narrowed that gap slightly, but not enough to challenge Churchill. The 13-year-old won the women's division with a 19:23, her fastest time yet for 5K. Rosen was the women's runner-up, coming in 23rd overall in 19:37. 29th overall in 20:45, Anna Busby was the third female finisher, and Brittney Barnes the fourth, 30th overall in 20:55. Angela Dempsey was the top woman master and eleventh female finisher, placing 47th overall in 22:06.

With the competition so far back for most of the way, how does Alyson Churchill stay mentally focused on the race?

"I try to think about my sisters who are also running," explained Churchill. "And today, Daddy!"

The winner did indeed have two sisters in the race, Megan Churchill (37th, 21:21) and Paige Churchill (97th, 25:45), as well as her father, Rob Churchill (189th, 30:50).

Sheryl Rosen"I ran 5K for the first time today," said Mr. Churchill. "And I didn't stop."

Alyson Churchill will be racing Gulf Winds Track Club's Miller Landing Madness on 22 August 2015, where she'll be the defending champion in the girls' 3K. Beyond that, she's looking forward to middle school cross country season.

"I really like the championship course at Apalachee Regional Park," said Churchill. "It seems like a faster course and I like the woods."

370 people finished Capital City Kiwanis' 33rd annual Firecracker 5K, with another 26 completing the earlier one-mile fun run. Chip timing of both races was provided by Gulf Winds Track Club of Tallahassee.

Top Ten Men, 2014 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
  1. 16:59.47 ~ Michael Potter (M, 25)Avery Bartlett
  2. 17:00.48 ~ Ty Murray (M, 18)
  3. 17:06.78 ~ Roger Schmidt (M, 24)
  4. 17:10.47 ~ Avery Bartlett (M, 18)
  5. 17:14.69 ~ Nate Kaiser (M, 35)
  6. 17:33.16 ~ Blaine Thomas (M, 18)
  7. 17:39.45 ~ Hunter Scott (M, 18)
  8. 17:42.80 ~ Michael Niezgoda (M, 26)
  9. 17:44.95 ~ Gary Droze (M, 54)
  10. 18:03.45 ~ William Bridges (M, 21)

Top Ten Women, 2014 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
  1. 19:22.80 ~ Alyson Churchill (F, 13)Anna Busby
  2. 19:36.51 ~ Sheryl Rosen (F, 31)
  3. 20:44.36 ~ Anna Busby (F, 24)
  4. 20:54.31 ~ Brittney Barnes (F, 27)
  5. 21:15.85 ~ Molly McCann (F, 16)
  6. 21:18.55 ~ Emily Molen (F, 13)
  7. 21:20.52 ~ Megan Churchill (F, 13)
  8. 21:25.56 ~ Cora Atkinson (F, 21)
  9. 21:29.80 ~ Jillian Heddaeus (F, 32)
  10. 21:59.66 ~ Katie Sack (F, 23)

Recent winners of the Firecracker 5000m
5 July 201517:00, Michael Potter19:23, Alyson Churchill370
4 July 201417:06, Joseph Garcia18:58, Katie Slater431
4 July 201318:22, Roger Schmidt20:53, Katie Showman
4 July 201216:14, Stanley Linton22:36, Nancy Stedman
4 July 201117:20, Joel Piotrowski21:35, Stephanie Stout
3 July 201018:45, Cliff Skelton22:29, Nancy Stedman
4 July 200916:46, Daniel Lee19:26, Emily Ness
4 July 2008
4 July 200718:05, Tony Guillen21:51, Julie Clark
4 July 200617:40, James Cook20:03, Julia Vola
4 July 200516:44, Jeff Dubias20:30, Heather Bailey
3 July 200415:48, Caleb Carmichael18:39, Kara Newell
4 July 2003
4 July 200216:57, Jason Fulghum22:07, Janice Hochstein
4 July 200117:22, Paul Hoover17:53, Sarah Docter-Williams
4 July 200015:57, Gary Droze18:10, Sarah Docter-Williams
4 July 199916:37, Tim Simpkins17:56, Sarah Docter-Williams
4 July 199816:05, Damian Wilson17:35, Sarah Docter-Williams
4 July 1997
4 July 199615:45, Gary Droze19:13, Carrie Weyant
4 July 199416:07, Gary Droze18:19, Lisa Herman
4 July 199016:55, Bill Crooks19:10, Vikki Saga
4 July 198916:47, Paul Hoover20:27, Mae Cleveland
4 July 198817:02, Paul Hoover
From 1983 to 2012 the Firecracker 5000 was run in Gadsden County from
Sycamore to Greensboro.
In 2013 the Firecracker 5000 was run in Tallahassee on trails in Phipps

In 2014 the Firecracker 5000 was run in Tallahassee from Cascades Park
on USATF Certified Course FL14067EBM.

In 2015 the Firecracker 5000 was run in Tallahassee from Cascades Park
on USATF Certified Course FL15071EBM.


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