Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Johnson and Sherron were the bomb at the Firecracker 5K

Tallahassee, Florida has had many years without an Independence Day road race, but 2017 was not one of those years. In and around Cascades Park on Tuesday morning, 4 July 2017, Charlie Johnson won the Capital City Kiwanis Club's Firecracker 5K, running 16:48. Katie Sherron was the women's champion, placing nineteenth overall in 19:42. More than 500 runners finished the race.

During the 1980s, Tallahassee had an Independence Day race in Tom Brown Park. Meanwhile, next door in Gadsden County, the Greensboro Kiwanis Club started their own Fourth of July race in 1983, the Firecracker 5K. The Tom Brown race eventually disappeared, but Greensboro's Firecracker 5K thrived for 30 years. After the 2012 race, the Greensboro Kiwanis decided to retire from race directing. The Capital City Kiwanis Club inherited the event, and brought it to Tallahassee.

Charlie Johnson
Charlie Johnson

Tallahassee's first Firecracker 5K, the 2013 race, was run in Phipps Park. After that, the race moved to newly-completed Cascades Park. Even in its new home, the Firecracker course has changed frequently.

"Every single year," declared Cole Tessier, the race director.

Honestly, the course changes have been subtle since 2014, though--incremental improvements rather than a radical overhaul. For instance, when the runners lined up for the start of the 2017 race, they lined up on Suwannee Street, just like in 2014. It was a different part of Suwannee Street, but it was still on Suwannee Street.

Vince Molosky
Vince Molosky

Just after the 8:00 AM start, before the runners had left Suwnannee Street, Nick Yaeger had bounded into the lead, with Vince Molosky trailing in second. Near the end of the first mile, Molosky had overtaken Yaeger. Behind them, racing in a "Big Lebowski" T-shirt, Charlie Johnson had moved into third.

During the second mile, the race covered an out-and-back stretch on Franklin Avenue. On the way out, Johnson passed Yaeger to move into second. After that, Johnson caught Molosky.

"Maybe a quarter mile after the turnaround on Franklin," recalled Johnson.

Katie Sherron
Katie Sherron

Back on Cascade Park's paved trails, Johnson built up a lead of more than 100 meters, going on to win the race in 16:48. Molosky was second in 17:11, Nick Yaeger third in 17:34, and Chris O'Kelley fourth in 17:54. Geb Kiros and Gary Droze placed fifth and sixth overall, with Kiros edging Droze 18:05 to 18:11 for top master runner honors.

Molly McCann, an alumna of the Maclay School cross-country team who will be competing for Tallahassee Community College in the fall, led the women's field early, but not for long.

"Molly from TCC was up front for the first mile," recalled Katie Sherron, who passed McCann right after that first mile. "At the Franklin Boulevard turnaround the only person I saw was Kat [Sack], five or ten seconds back. That's how we finished."

Kat Sack
Kat Sack

Sherron took the women's title in 19:42, with Sack running 20:01 for second in the women's standings and 23rd overall. McCann was third woman and 30th overall in 20:32. Paula O'Neill was the top woman master and eleventh female finisher, 67th overall in 22:55.

The 35th annual race may have been the largest Firecracker 5K ever, but it was certainly the largest since the race moved to Tallahassee. Even so, the event wasn't without its problems.

"It was hot," observed Kat Sack, the women's runner up. "It would be a great course in the winter."

But until Independence Day is observed in January, high temperatures will be part of the Firecracker 5K.

Top Ten Men, 2017 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
  1. 16:48, Charlie Johnson (M, 37)
  2. 17:11, Vince Molosky (M, 37)
  3. 17:34, Nick Yeager (M, 22)
  4. 17:54, Chris O'Kelley (M, 24)
  5. 18:05, Geb Kiros (M, 50)
  6. 18:11, Gary Droze (M, 56)
  7. 18:16, Ryan Truchelut (M, 31)
  8. 18:22, Kurt Dietrich (M, 25)
  9. 18:23, Doug Bell (M, 48)
  10. 18:27, Jim Halley (M, 37)

Top Ten Women, 2017 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
  1. 19:42, Katie Sherron (F, 35)
  2. 20:01, Kat Sack (F, 25)
  3. 20:32, Molly McCann (F, 18)
  4. 20:55, Hannah Hosay (F, 15)
  5. 21:20, Jillian Heddaeus (F, 34)
  6. 21:52, Samantha Reilly (F, 25)
  7. 21:57, Meg Ogle (F, 26)
  8. 22:01, Laura McDermott (F, 37)
  9. 22:33, Brittney Barnes (F, 29)
  10. 22:35, Julie Duggins (F, 34)
  11. 22:55, Paula O'Neill (F, 56)

Recent winners of the Firecracker 5000m
4 July 201716:48, Charlie Johnson19:42, Katie Sherron520
4 July 201616:06, Stanley Linton20:35, Brittney Barnes399
4 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.

In 2016 the Firecracker 5000 was run in Tallahassee from Cascades Park
on USATF Certified Course FL14149EBM.


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