Tuesday, April 16, 2019

No wrigglin', no squirmin', just runnin' for Michael Bennett and Rory Claussen at the Worm Gruntin' 5K

In 1882 Charles Darwin published his final book, a page-turner titled The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the action of Worms, with observations on their Habit. One of his observations he included was "It is often said that if the ground is beaten or otherwise made to tremble worms will believe that they are pursued by a mole and leave their burrows." In 2008, Dr. Ken Catania of Vanderbilt University claimed to have proven Darwin's Theory, running experiments in the forest near Sopchoppy, Florida. For years before Dr. Catania's study, though, Sopchoppy locals had been using vibrations to drive earthworms to the surface, where the worms were gathered for use as fish bait. It's a widespread practice, known as worm charming, worm fiddling, or worm grunting. Sopchoppy has an annual festival celebrating this method of earthworm collection. Of course, they used the least appetizing name available, calling it the Worm Gruntin' Festival. Sopchoppy holds the Worm Gruntin' Festival annually on the second Saturday of April, and the day always opens with the Worm Gruntin' Festival 5K.

Tallahassee, Florida athlete Michael Bennett won the 13 April 2019 edition of the Worm Gruntin' Festival 5K, running 19:20. Panama City, Florida's Rory Claussen, the 2018 women's champ, successfully defended her title, placing fourth overall in 20:44.

Andrew Wilber of Tallahassee took second overall at 20:28. Fifteen-year-old Brayden Lawhon, a Wakulla County native, placed third in 20:43, just a step ahead of Rory Claussen. Neil Claussen was the fastest master runner in the 5K, the eighth male finisher and ninth overall in 22:56.

Liliana Lewis, a seventh-grader on the Wakulla Middle School cross-country team, grabbed second in the women's standings, placing tenth overall in 23:30. Just behind Lewis, Lauren Bosche was the third woman and eleventh overall in 23:33. Melissa Hooke was the first woman master and fourth female finisher, fourteenth overall in 23:41.

154 athletes finished the 2019 Worm Gruntin' Festival 5K.

Top Ten Men, 2019 Worm Gruntin' Festival 5K
  1. 19:20, Michael Bennett (M, 27) Tallahassee, FL
  2. 20:28, Andrew Wilber (M, 29)
  3. 20:43, Brayden Lawhon (M, 15)
  4. 20:55, Michael Schmitt (M, 32)
  5. 22:17, Raymond Powers (M, 27)
  6. 22:29, Josiah Chadwell (M, 13)
  7. 22:53, Spencer Claussen (M, 13)
  8. 22:56, Neil Claussen (M, 45)
  9. 23:34, Ion Raffensperger (M, 7)
  10. 23:36, Stephen Attaway (M, 21)

Top Ten Women, 2019 Worm Gruntin' Festival 5K
  1. 20:44, Rory Claussen (F, 13) Panama City, FL
  2. 23:30, Liliana Lewis (F, 12)
  3. 23:33, Lauren Bosche (F, 26)
  4. 23:41, Melissa Hooke (F, 40)
  5. 24:01, Kathryn Cameron (F, 24)
  6. 24:39, Sarah Monbarren (F, 33)
  7. 24:42, Isabella Laughton (F, 11)
  8. 24:52, Kate King (F, 26)
  9. 25:20, Rachel Lovestrand (F, 31)
  10. 25:47, Isabella Davis (F, 12)

Known winners of the Sopchoppy, Florida, Worm Grunting Festival 5K, 2003 - 2019
12 April 2003
10 April 2004
9 April 200518:36, Mackey Tyndall20:57, Julie Clark59
8 April 2006Karl HempelKarmen Duchon55
14 April 200720:11, Brett TempletonSydney Nutting56
14 April 201217:27, Stanley Linton23:00, Julie Rose Travis111
13 April 201315:56, Stanley Linton21:46, Emily Smith139
12 April 201420:48, Travis Parks21:20, Kayla Webbe140
11 April 201517:45, Chase Savary22:05, Hannah Wheatcraft153
9 April 201617:22, Matthew Phillips20:22, Mariah Tinger154
8 April 201717:49, Stanley Linton21:18, Alyssa Terry146
14 April 201819:04, Paul Hodge19:43, Rory Claussen155
13 April 201919:20, Michael Bennett20:44, Rory Claussen154


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