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.
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.
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.
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."
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
- 16:48, Charlie Johnson (M, 37)
- 17:11, Vince Molosky (M, 37)
- 17:34, Nick Yeager (M, 22)
- 17:54, Chris O'Kelley (M, 24)
- 18:05, Geb Kiros (M, 50)
- 18:11, Gary Droze (M, 56)
- 18:16, Ryan Truchelut (M, 31)
- 18:22, Kurt Dietrich (M, 25)
- 18:23, Doug Bell (M, 48)
- 18:27, Jim Halley (M, 37)
Top Ten Women, 2017 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
- 19:42, Katie Sherron (F, 35)
- 20:01, Kat Sack (F, 25)
- 20:32, Molly McCann (F, 18)
- 20:55, Hannah Hosay (F, 15)
- 21:20, Jillian Heddaeus (F, 34)
- 21:52, Samantha Reilly (F, 25)
- 21:57, Meg Ogle (F, 26)
- 22:01, Laura McDermott (F, 37)
- 22:33, Brittney Barnes (F, 29)
- 22:35, Julie Duggins (F, 34)
- 22:55, Paula O'Neill (F, 56)
|Recent winners of the Firecracker 5000m|
|4 July 2017||16:48, Charlie Johnson||19:42, Katie Sherron||520|
|4 July 2016||16:06, Stanley Linton||20:35, Brittney Barnes||399|
|4 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.
In 2016 the Firecracker 5000 was run in Tallahassee from Cascades Park
on USATF Certified Course FL14149EBM.
- Complete results of the 2017 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K at gulfwinds.org
- More photos of the 2017 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
- Part 1: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10110137273669153.1073742284.5215641&type=1&l=330e01bbbe
- Part 2: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10110161972178143.1073742286.5215641&type=1&l=8d0638f742
- Fred Deckert's photos of the 2017 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
- Independence Day 2017 racing coverage on Trouble Afoot!
- Gainesville FL: https://troubleafoot.blogspot.com/2017/07/ftc-melon-2017.html
- Jay FL: https://troubleafoot.blogspot.com/2017/07/jay-freedom-2017.html
- Tallahassee FL: https://troubleafoot.blogspot.com/2017/07/firecracker-2017.html
- Valdosta GA: https://troubleafoot.blogspot.com/2017/07/valdosta-independence-2017.html
- 2016 story, “Linton and Barnes win a steamy Firecracker 5K”
- 2015 story, “Potter and Churchill have a blast at the 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 2016 Capital City Kiwanis Firecracker 5K
- Find more classic races in the region on the Trouble Afoot! calendar