Run Around the Pines 5k Recap
Running pineapples, thrilling duels, a rare on-track finish, and flying finish lines were the order of the day last Saturday at Track Shack’s Run Around the Pines 5k. It’s a rare day in these southern parts that temperatures decide to cooperate and be cool enough, but that was certainly the case as almost 2,000 athletes were greeted by temperatures in the low 50’s as they lined up on what is hands down the fastest course of not only the Track Shack Running Series, but in the state of Florida as well.
After a Whitney Houston-like rendition of the national anthem, the runners on their way – some chasing points towards series prizes, others new PRs, and everyone trying to sneak in front of those giant pineapples and win a free smoothie from Planet Smoothie!
The men’s race developed quickly with masters stud Bill Vanos and young Track Shack Events employee Seth Proctor immediately grabbing the race by its horns. By the first mile the two athletes were alone and began trading surges trying to break one another. However, shortly after mile two Vanos and Proctor were 50 meters up on the field and incapable of shaking one another. At the race’s turn onto the Cady Way Bike Path the two slowed and began feeling each other out for a final sprint. As those two focused on themselves, Dustin Hicks, who had been racing between the lead duo and main pack, seized the opportunity to reel them in and pull even. With a mere ½ mile to go it was now a three man race up front! This unofficial détente between athletes inspecting one another and waiting to make their move soon ended. Just as the trio began to turn off the bike path and towards the finish line Proctor popped into high gear and quickly gained a gap that he would hold over the final 250 meters to the finish.
The women’s race saw a surprise appearance from Adidas employee Sallie Ford. Current series leader Natasha Yaremczuk would chase Ford throughout the race, but would end up suffering a rare loss to the former William & Mary track star.
Soon after the leaders streaked down the tartan to the finish Florida’s moody climate reared its ugly head. However, a brief rain shower and a bit of wind wasn’t enough to keep runners from partaking in endless smoothie samples from Planet Smoothie, some perfectly warm coffee and delicious popsicles from Hunter Vision, swapping race stories while snacking around the DJ, and some especially talented ones showing off their hard-won free smoothie gift cards.
With just one race left in the series there are a number of close races going for prizes – from the overall win all the way to the 8-10 year old division. While Yaremczuk is all but assured of an overall victory, a win at the Zimmerman Kiser Sutecliffe Winter Park Road Race in March by Proctor will mean a points tie with Vanos. Make sure you know where you stand by checking here, because you may be racing for an award in your age group and not even know it!