Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fast runners on a not-so-fast course, the first six years of Paul Hoover Freedom 5K performances

The Wakulla High Cross-Country Boosters' seventh annual Paul Hoover Memorial Freedom 5K is slated for Saturday morning, 29 June 2019. The race has been run on the same Wakulla Springs State Park Course since 2013, mostly unpaved and sandy. The runners will go to Cherokee Sink and back by the same route in 2019, but the infamous sand has been covered with gravel.

Justin Keefe
Justin Keefe

Under dry conditions, this may be an easier surface to run on than the sugar sand that the athletes had to slog through in the past. Consequently, there's a good chance that there will be some faster performances in 2019. Therefore, I thought it was an opportune time to look at the best times run on the sand during the first six years of the race.

Top ten men's times, Paul Hoover Freedom 5K
16:32Justin Keefe2017
17:33Stanley Linton2013
17:36Zach Deveau2015
17:48Wright Calhoun2016
18:12Dan Baur2016
18:19Brian Griffith2013
18:21Ryan Truchelut2018
18:27Michael Martinez2015
18:30Travis Parks2017
18:33Gary Droze2013
Top ten women's times, Paul Hoover Freedom 5K
19:10Amy Hines2018
19:51Katie Sherron2015
20:00Madison Harris2016
20:12Madison Harris2014
20:56Brittney Skiles2016
21:07Renee Cox2014
21:11Alli Hay2016
21:12Madison Harris2013
21:29Cora Atkinson2015
21:41Haleigh Martin2016

Justin Keefe, a former University of Richmond cross-country runner, set the course record in 2017. It was one of the dry years, when the Freedom 5K is like trying to race on a beach, but Keefe ran 16:32--more than a minute faster than anyone else has ever gone on the course. Stan Linton ran the second best time of 17:33 in 2013, back before he had started racing for the Seminoles at Florida State University. It was one of the rainy years, so the sand was soft even if the course was a bit sloppy. 2015 was another rainy year, and Zach DeVeau put up a winning time of 17:36 on the wet course.

Amy Hines
Amy Hines

2018 was clear, but there had been enough rain during the week leading up to the race to firm up the sand. Amy Hines took advantage of those course conditions to to 19:10, the women's course record for the Freedom 5K. The previous best, and still second on the all-time list, was Dr. Katie Sherron's 19:51, run during the rainy 2015 race. Florida State University Seminole Madison Harris ran 20:00 on a bright morning in 2016, the third-best women's time at the Freedom 5K. The only three-time champ of the race, Harris also ran fourth-best women's time of 20:12 in 2014 and the eighth-best, 21:12, in the rainy 2013 race.

Michael Martinez owns the best Freedom 5K mark by a master runner, the 18:27 he ran while finishing second to Zach DeVeau in the rain in 2015. Angela Dempsey had the best performance of any woman master at the first six years of the Freedom 5K, running 23:00 in 2018.

Katie Sherron
Katie Sherron

Will these times be displaced in 2019? It depends on the gravel. It also depends on the weather. But mostly, it depends on the athletes who will be racing.


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