Another 9/11 date has come and gone. While the images and emotions brought forth from that horrendous day feel more distant, the reality of its effects remains indisputable. We are a different country in many ways. The most obvious of which is our appreciation of those whose job it is to quiet the chaos. First responders around the nation know that when a crisis emerges, they can handle the job in part because we will all rise up to bolster their efforts.
On Saturday, Sept 14th the NPFR Honor Guard hosted the 3rd Annual Remember the Fallen 5K. This wildly popular fundraiser drew a crowd of more than 500 people with 428 runners completing the course (Up from 375 last year). On a day set aside for recollection, this was a race worth remembering.
The Firefighter Challenge - Intertwined among the hundreds setting pace on the streets of North Port were those few brave souls who wore the firefighter uniform for the full length of the run. Battling the heat and rising sun they hauled more than 20 pounds worth of gear with absolute pride.
The diversity of this race was worth noting as runners again defied the age barrier with the youngest being Aaron Morales age 4 who finished in 45:23. The eldest on the day was 79 year old Ron Davis who won his class in an impressive 28 minutes flat. These people are a constant inspiration to anyone who doesn't believe they can complete such a run.
Now for the trailblazers! The fastest man of the day was 31 year old Kerri Sullivan who rocked the block pacing at 5:22 per mile, finishing in only 16:37. The fastest lady was local favorite Heather Butcher who sailed through at 18:02. North Port's very own continued to fill the podium with Kathy Hendricks taking the Female Master's title with 21:24 and Jacquelyn Baldelli taking the Senior Grand Master's title with 25:06.
The largest female group was the 30-34 class with 42 runners. It was a tight battle won out by Echo Lazorko who probably has the coolest name in all of running. The largest male group was the 40-44 class with 31 runners (Including myself in 14th place), the big winner was Donald Dobbs who stole the show with a time of 21:11.
By the time awards came around the crowd was elbow to elbow deep. Sponsors included Fit 2 Run, Advocare, Awaken Church (Who handed out cold chocolate milk, yum), Active Suncoast, Youfit and many more. The timing was done by our good friends at Zoomers. There was also a strong team ethic as unified groups from The Foot Landing and The Pack stood out in the crowd and even got group photos.
Remember the Fallen can be described as nothing less than a success. The money raised on this day will go towards the National Fallen Firefighters Fund and the restoration of a 1946 Seagrave Pumper truck which will be used for local parades and firefighter funeral processions. You can learn more about the NFFF at their website www.firehero.org
Photos and race results can be found at the following links: