No one was. Master runner Droze was racing down Gaines Street in Tallahassee, Florida, leading the fifth annual VetFest 5K on a Veterans Day Wednesday morning, 11 November 2015. Two minutes later the Maclay School cross country coach was first across the finish line in 17:02, 200 meters ahead of the next runner. Florida State University economics professor Katie Sherron won the women's title for the second year in a row, fourth overall in 18:24. A record 255 runners finished the race.
When the 5K started at 8:30 AM, many of the athletes already knew it was going to be a hilly run.
"They found every hill," said Gary Droze. "I got tired just warming up on the course."
The race started with a downhill, though, heading east on Park Avenue toward the low ground of Franklin Boulevard. Droze jumped ahead during the descent, and was never challenged during the rest of the race. Immediately behind Droze, Jimbo Halley, Nicholas Loffer, and Mike Peymann led the pursuit at the mile mark. During the second mile, though, the chase group was overtaken by Grady Smith. Droze ran home to win in 17:02, while Smith grabbed second with a 17:42. Halley took third in 18:20, Loffer fourth in 18:27, and Peymann fifth in 18:36.
Brittney Barnes led the women's field early. For the first half of the race Barnes was shadowed by Swift Creek Middle School cross country runner Alyson Churchill.
"She got away from me around a mile and a half," said Churchill. "I tried to stay with her, but...."
Soon after Barnes dropped Churchill, she was challenged by Katie Showman. Showman made up a fifteen-second deficit during the second mile of the race to pull even with Barnes. During the final mile of the race, Showman opened a 170-meter gap on Barnes. Successfully defending her 2014 VetFest 5K women's title, Showman was fourth overall in 18:24--the fastest VetFest 5K time by a woman in the five-year history of the race. Barnes was the women's runner-up, seventh overall in 19:03. Churchill placed third in the women's standings, tenth overall in 19:50. Ten-year-old Layla Thompson was the fourth female finisher, 26th overall in 21:22. Ruffian Tyner was the top woman master and eighth female finisher, 43rd overall in 22:35.
The VetFest 5K was organized and produced by Vet Events Tally. The group is also responsible for the Veterans Day parade and other events in Tallahassee's Veterans Day celebration. Chip timing of the race was provided by Gulf Winds Track Club of Tallahassee.
Top Ten Men, 2015 Tallahassee VetFest 5K
- 17:02 ~ Gary Droze (M, 54)
- 17:42 ~ Grady Smith (M, 38)
- 18:20 ~ Jimbo Halley (M, 36)
- 18:27 ~ Nicholas Loffer (M, 31)
- 18:36 ~ Mike Peymann (M, 53)
- 19:32 ~ Finn Tucker (M, 13)
- 19:49 ~ Chuck Lang (M, 50)
- 20:08 ~ Stephen Freeman (M, 24)
- 20:12 ~ Hawthorne Hay (M, 13)
- 20:20 ~ Michael McCarroll (M, 30)
Top Ten Women, 2015 Tallahassee VetFest 5K
- 18:24 ~ Katie Sherron (F, 34)
- 19:03 ~ Brittney Barnes (F, 27)
- 19:50 ~ Alyson Churchill (F, 13)
- 21:22 ~ Layla Thompson (F, 10)
- 21:56 ~ Megan Churchill (F, 13)
- 22:01 ~ Mercedes Puig (F, 31)
- 22:27 ~ Lauren Cook (F, 12)
- 22:35 ~ Ruffian Tyner (F, 40)
- 22:40 ~ Paige Churchill (F, 10)
- 22:42 ~ Isabel Anderson (F, 36)
|Tallahassee VetFest 5K winners, 2011 - 2015|
|14 November 2011||16:20, Alex Smyth||22:50, Sandy Holt||169|
|12 November 2012||19:12, James Taylor||21:34, Kelly Brennan||112|
|11 November 2013||15:57, Chris Rego||20:01, Renee Cox||147|
|11 November 2014||17:45, Adam Greenstein||19:06, Katie Sherron||191|
|11 November 2015||17:02, Gary Droze||18:24, Katie Sherron||255|
- Complete results of the 2015 Tallahassee VetFest 5K at gulfwinds.org
- More photos of the 2015 Tallahassee VetFest 5K
- Fred Deckert's photos of the 2015 Tallahassee VetFest 5K
- 2014 story, “Victory at VetFest for Greenstein and Sherron”
- 2013 story, “Veterans Day victories for Chris Rego and Renee Cox”
- 2012 story, “James Taylor and Kelly Brennan cruise at Allen Beal 5K”
- 2011 story, “Veteran's Day victories for Smyth and Holt”
- Find a race to run on the next patriotic holiday using the Trouble Afoot! calendar