Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 to be a big year for six-kilometer racing on Florida's roads

If you followed the 2016 cross-country season at Tallahassee, Florida's Apalachee Regional Park, you'd have noticed the variety in racing distances. Athletes competed at ten kilometers, eight kilometers, six kilometers, five kilometers, four kilometers, two miles, three kilometers, two kilometers, and even a remarkably brief one kilometer. The six kilometer distance turned out to be fairly frequently contested. The university women raced at 6K at the NCAA Division 1 South Region Championships on 11 November 2016, both the women masters and the open women went 6K at the USATF Club Nationals on 10 December 2016, and everyone ran 6K at Gulf Winds Track Club's Tannenbaum Trail 6K on 17 December 2016.

Apalachee Regional Park Championship Cross-Country Course
Women's 6K at the 2016 NCAA-D1 South Region at Apalachee Regional Park

The six-kilometer distance may be a staple in cross-country, but it's not nearly as common in road racing. In 2016, though, the South Florida Heroes In Recovery 6K had their course USATF certified. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida race had joined Saint Augustine's Character Counts 6K and Palatka's Ravine Gardens 6K in the state's elite group of races on certified six-kilometer courses. With 2017 approaching, Gulf Winds Track Club obtained USATF certification for the course of the Flash 6K in Saint Marks, Florida. So we should see four 6K races on USATF-certified courses in 2017. Here's how those events have stacked up from 2013 to 2016:

A comparison of four Florida 6K road races, 2013 - 2016
YearDateRaceMale WinnerFemale WinnerFinishers
20139 FebruaryCharacter Counts 6K21:33, Yaro Middaugh26:24, Beth Sweeny205
16 FebruaryFlash 6K21:54, Michael Martinez25:09, Jessica Gillard70
27 AprilHeroes 6K21:30, Luiz Souza27:13, Sara Devi Pierson466
20148 FebruaryCharacter Counts 6K23:02, Mike Beaman26:53, Katie Dingler123
15 FebruaryFlash 6K21:56, Jon Mason28:15, Sarah Taff85
3 MayHeroes 6K22:37, Harrie Olsthoorn28:56, Rachel Bush397
25 OctoberRavine Gardens 6K22:30, Dan Stoner26:50, Talisa Fletcher32
20157 FebruaryCharacter Counts 6K24:15, Bryan Thompson26:36, Zahra Crim218
21 FebruaryFlash 6K23:30, Duane Evans24:20, Katie Gorman98
25 AprilHeroes 6K21:44, Christopher Mills23:53, Danielle Kleppan302
24 OctoberRavine Gardens 6K23:47, Peyton Snyder28:34, Sally Chappell49
20166 FebruaryCharacter Counts 6K21:32, Yaro Middaugh23:54, Ani Veltcheva253
20 FebruaryFlash 6K23:17, Travis Parks32:26, Leah Kiros87
4 JuneHeroes 6K20:24, Scott Byers24:07, Abidemi Charles391
22 OctoberRavine Gardens 6K26:53, John Wisker33:09, Leigh Doran23
20174 FebruaryCharacter Counts 6K

18 FebruaryFlash 6K

3 JuneHeroes 6K

21 October?Ravine Gardens 6K

The Character Counts 6K was held on USATF certified course FL12089EBM from 2013-2016.
The Ravine Gardens 6K was held on USATF certified course FL14061EBM from 2014 to 2016.
The Heroes In Recovery 6K was held on uncertified courses from 2013 to 2015, and on USATF certified
course FL16048EBM in 2016.
From 2011 to 2016 the Flash 6K was held on an uncertified course in Saint Marks, Florida; the race will be
run on USATF certified course FL16069TY in 2017.

You can see that the newly-certified course at the 2016 Heroes 6K produced both the fastest and the largest race of the year, as Scott Byers led a field of 391 athletes with a 20:24--which could very well be the fastest time ever on a USATF-certified course in Florida. Chicago State alumna Abidemi Charles won the women's title at the 2016 Heroes 6K with a very fast 24:07. It was only Florida's second-fastest women's time of the year, though; Abraham Lincoln Middle School's Ani Veltcheva had already gone 23:54 at the 2016 Character Counts 6K. Veltcheva's time is likely Florida's women's record for 6K on the roads.

Ani Veltcheva
Ani Veltcheva

In 2017 six-kilometer road racing in Florida opens with the the fifth annual Character Counts 6K in Saint Augustine on 4 February 2017. Two weeks later, Florida athletes get another crack at the distance in Saint Marks at the 29th annual Flash 6K on 18 February 2017. The fifth annual South Florida Heroes In Recovery 6K in Fort Lauderdale is scheduled for 3 June 2017. As of this writing no date had been posted for the fourth annual Ravine Gardens 6K.

Actually, it's Gulf Winds Track Club's Flash 12K that will be the "29th annual." The 6K has only been around since 2009, so this will be the ninth running for the shorter race. Still, the Flash 12K will be the oldest six-kilometer road race in Florida during 2017. Largest and fastest? Those remain to be determined.