Friday, November 11, 2016

McCurdy and Churchill take the VetFest 5K

VetFest 5K logoOn the Centre College track team Matt McCurdy was almost purely a middle-distance runner. From 2011 to 2015, while pursuing a degree in mathematics at the Danville, Kentucky college, McCurdy seldom raced farther than 800 meters on the track. But in Tallahassee, Florida on Friday morning, 11 November 2016, McCurdy looked every bit the long-distance runner as he won the sixth annual VetFest 5K, running 16:41 over a hilly downtown course. Lincoln High frosh Alyson Churchill was first in the women's standings, placing sixth overall in 18:00. 191 athletes finished the 3.1-mile race.

Many holidays change dates from year to year so as to fall on a Monday, but Veterans Day in always on 11 November. Some Veterans Day road races change dates from year to year so as to fall on a Saturday, but Tallahassee's VetFest 5K has always been on Veterans Day. The race started at 8:30 with the runners hurtling down East Park Avenue toward Franklin Boulevard, losing nearly 100 feet of elevation in the first 600 yards. There was plenty of uphill ahead to make up for that downhill, as the race circled Myers Park before returning downtown. Vince Molosky took the early lead, but he was being stalked by two Ph.D. students from the Florida State University Department of Mathematics--Matt McCurdy and Nick Yaeger.

"A little after a mile in, Nick and I had caught up and we made a move to get some ground between us and the third place runner," recalled McCurdy.

McCurdy and Yeager continued to run together until the last mile. Climbing the hill on South Monroe Street opened a gap, then cruised to a 16:41 win. Yaeger was a close second in 16:47. Vince Molosky took third in 17:14, and Chris Lake was fourth in 17:42.

McCurdy runs for a Center College alumni group, Fortius Duckface Track Club. He and Yaeger have left their high school and college running days behind them, but Alyson Churchill has only just started down that road. Churchill has already racked up accomplishments that would be the pinnacle of most athletes' careers. Just six days before the Vetfest 5K, she won Florida's State High School Cross Country Championship, concluding a remarkable first cross-country season at Lincoln High where she won seven races while losing only one. Churchill had run 19:50 in the 2015 VetFest 5K. Returning for the 2016 race, she improved that mark to 18:00.

"Today was not supposed to be a hard race for me and I was not expecting to get as fast of a time as I did," commented Churchill. "Honestly I think it helped me out a lot not being so nervous going into the race."

Jillian Heddaeus was second in the women's standings and thirteenth overall in 21:08. Lincoln High cross-country runner Megan Churchill was the third woman and fourteenth overall in 22:03, and Swift Creek Middle cross-country runner Paige Churchill was the fourth female finisher and sixteenth overall in 23:00.

Michael Cipriano was the fastest master runner in the race, the twelfth male finisher and fifteenth overall in 21:39. Paula O'Neill was the top woman master and seventh female finisher, 27th overall in 23:17.

There's still more racing ahead for the winners of the VetFest 5K. Alyson Churchill plans to compete at the Foot Locker Cross Country South Regional Championships at Charlotte, North Carolina's McAlpine Park on 26 November 2016. Matt McCurdy is looking forward to the Tallahassee Turkey Trot on 24 November 2016.

Top Ten Men, 2016 Tallahassee VetFest 5K
  1. 16:41 ~ Matt McCurdy (M, 23)
  2. 16:47 ~ Nick Yaeger (M, 22)
  3. 17:14 ~ Vince Molosky (M, 37)
  4. 17:42 ~ Chris Lake (M, 29)
  5. 17:54 ~ Grady Smith (M, 39)
  6. 18:16 ~ Jim Halley (M, 37)
  7. 19:22 ~ Paul Guyas (M, 39)
  8. 20:04 ~ Matthias Laywell (M, 18)
  9. 20:12 ~ Lane Williams (M, 20)
  10. 20:19 ~ John Schwenkler (M, 35)

Top Ten Women, 2016 Tallahassee VetFest 5K
  1. 18:00 ~ Alyson Churchill (F, 14)
  2. 21:08 ~ Jillian Heddaeus (F, 33)
  3. 21:20 ~ Megan Churchill (F, 14)
  4. 22:03 ~ Paige Churchill (F, 11)
  5. 23:00 ~ Kristin Halley (F, 35)
  6. 23:13 ~ Layla Thompson (F, 11)
  7. 23:17 ~ Paula O'Neill (F, 55)
  8. 23:26 ~ Alyssa Terry (F, 23)
  9. 23:42 ~ Laura Sellati (F, 37)
  10. 23:43 ~ Deirdre McCarthy (F, 37)

Tallahassee VetFest 5K winners, 2011 - 2016
14 November 201116:20, Alex Smyth22:50, Sandy Holt169
12 November 201219:12, James Taylor21:34, Kelly Brennan112
11 November 201315:57, Chris Rego20:01, Renee Cox147
11 November 201417:45, Adam Greenstein19:06, Katie Sherron191
11 November 201517:02, Gary Droze18:24, Katie Sherron255
11 November 201616:41, Matt McCurdy18:00, Alyson Churchill191


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