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.
"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."
A 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."
Halfway 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).
"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
- 16:59.47 ~ Michael Potter (M, 25)
- 17:00.48 ~ Ty Murray (M, 18)
- 17:06.78 ~ Roger Schmidt (M, 24)
- 17:10.47 ~ Avery Bartlett (M, 18)
- 17:14.69 ~ Nate Kaiser (M, 35)
- 17:33.16 ~ Blaine Thomas (M, 18)
- 17:39.45 ~ Hunter Scott (M, 18)
- 17:42.80 ~ Michael Niezgoda (M, 26)
- 17:44.95 ~ Gary Droze (M, 54)
- 18:03.45 ~ William Bridges (M, 21)
Top Ten Women, 2014 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
- 19:22.80 ~ Alyson Churchill (F, 13)
- 19:36.51 ~ Sheryl Rosen (F, 31)
- 20:44.36 ~ Anna Busby (F, 24)
- 20:54.31 ~ Brittney Barnes (F, 27)
- 21:15.85 ~ Molly McCann (F, 16)
- 21:18.55 ~ Emily Molen (F, 13)
- 21:20.52 ~ Megan Churchill (F, 13)
- 21:25.56 ~ Cora Atkinson (F, 21)
- 21:29.80 ~ Jillian Heddaeus (F, 32)
- 21:59.66 ~ Katie Sack (F, 23)
|Recent winners of the Firecracker 5000m|
|5 July 2015||17:00, Michael Potter||19:23, Alyson Churchill||370|
|4 July 2014||17:06, Joseph Garcia||18:58, Katie Slater||431|
|4 July 2013||18:22, Roger Schmidt||20:53, Katie Showman|
|4 July 2012||16:14, Stanley Linton||22:36, Nancy Stedman|
|4 July 2011||17:20, Joel Piotrowski||21:35, Stephanie Stout|
|3 July 2010||18:45, Cliff Skelton||22:29, Nancy Stedman|
|4 July 2009||16:46, Daniel Lee||19:26, Emily Ness|
|4 July 2008|
|4 July 2007||18:05, Tony Guillen||21:51, Julie Clark|
|4 July 2006||17:40, James Cook||20:03, Julia Vola|
|4 July 2005||16:44, Jeff Dubias||20:30, Heather Bailey|
|3 July 2004||15:48, Caleb Carmichael||18:39, Kara Newell|
|4 July 2003|
|4 July 2002||16:57, Jason Fulghum||22:07, Janice Hochstein|
|4 July 2001||17:22, Paul Hoover||17:53, Sarah Docter-Williams|
|4 July 2000||15:57, Gary Droze||18:10, Sarah Docter-Williams|
|4 July 1999||16:37, Tim Simpkins||17:56, Sarah Docter-Williams|
|4 July 1998||16:05, Damian Wilson||17:35, Sarah Docter-Williams|
|4 July 1997|
|4 July 1996||15:45, Gary Droze||19:13, Carrie Weyant|
|4 July 1994||16:07, Gary Droze||18:19, Lisa Herman|
|4 July 1990||16:55, Bill Crooks||19:10, Vikki Saga|
|4 July 1989||16:47, Paul Hoover||20:27, Mae Cleveland|
|4 July 1988||17:02, 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.
- Complete results of the 2015 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K at gulfwinds.org
- More photos of the 2015 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
- Part 1: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10106396622464153.1073742105.5215641&l=a921281de0
- Part 2: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10106399009106303.1073742106.5215641&l=19ed3e4d62
- Fred Deckert's photos of the 2015 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
- 2014 story, “Firecracker victories for Garcia and Slater”
- 2013 story, “Capital City Kiwanis brings the Firecracker 5000 to Tallahassee”
- 2012 story, “Out with a bang, the final Firecracker 5K”
- 2011 story, “Banging good runs for Piotrowski and Stout at Firecracker 5000”
- 2010 story, “Skelton and Stedman win at Greensboro”
- USATF course certification map for the 2015 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
- Find more classic races in the region on the Trouble Afoot! calendar