April 30, 2012
167 runners compete in first annual Ocracoke Island 5K benefit run


Organizers of the first annual Ocracoke Island 5K benefit run were thrilled at the turnout for this new island event on Saturday, April 28.

One hundred sixty-seven runners of all ages, with 45 from Ocracoke, ran the three-mile course under cloudy skies raising more than $10,000 for two local nonprofits --  community radio station WOVV 90.1 FM and the Ocracoke School Booster Club.

While 48 medals were awarded in various age categories, the winner of the race was Ocracoke resident Alfonso “Chito” Guerro, who bounded across the finish line at Gaffer’s Sports Pub with an official time of 18:09 minutes.

He was followed by Keith Gray of Buxton, with a time of 18:16 minutes.  Third-place winner was Joe Caroppoli of Avon, in 18:19 minutes.

Lulu Perez of Ocracoke was the top female runner with a time of 21:42 minutes.  It was her first 5K race, she said after finishing.

Her daughter, Karen Perez, 12, was the second-place female at 23:11 and Angela Cothren of Buxton was third at 23:19 minutes.

“It’s nice to see all these people supporting this,” said Ocracoke School Principal Walter Padgett, who ran the race in 26.35 minutes.  “For the first year, this has gone off without a hitch. I’m impressed.”

Gregg Honeycutt, race organizer and emcee, was pleased with the event.

“We started this four months ago and have runners from all over North Carolina, as well as Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey,” he said at race headquarters outside Gaffer’s.  “We got a ton of compliments, and we already have the date for next year, which will be Saturday, April 27.”

He also said that next year, the organizers will add a 10K race, in addition to the 5K race.

Among the runners and walkers was 87-year-old Ocracoke resident Mackie Bell, who received a medal in the 70 and older category.

“I’m a stroller,” she said before the race.

At its end, she rolled up in the passenger seat of a golf cart, but got off and walked through the finish gate at a time of 45:30 minutes to cheers from the dozens of spectators.  Bell can be seen daily walking three or four miles each day in the village.

Paige Spence, 7, was the youngest in the race and had a time of 52 minutes.  But hers wasn’t the slowest. That distinction went to Ruth Fordon and Diana Dell, both of Ocracoke, who walked the course in 54:50 minutes.

William Griffin, 70, was first-place in the male 70-plus age category with a time of 31:29 minutes. He noted that he’d had heart bypass surgery a year and a half ago.

“I’m in the “bypass” category,” he joked about his first time in a 5K.

People along the route cheered the runners as well, noted John Gilbert, of Alexandria, Va., who, with his wife, Dolores, ran his first 5K race.  Dolores, who is not a novice race runner, was third in the women’s 50 to 59 age group with a time of 27:59 minutes.

“It was great to see all the folks outside in the village, Zillie’s (Island Pantry) and the Coffee Shop cheering us on,” Gilbert said.

“It was very motivational,” added third-place finisher Caroppoli, a fine artist and veteran runner. “I loved the course. It was very versatile.”

Debbie Mahoney, 57, of Prince George, Va., was among a group of four women on a girls’ weekend to the island expressly to run in the race.

Not a runner, she said she didn’t train for Saturday’s event, but was happy with her time of 45:02 minutes.  She sipped a beer outside Gaffer’s along with the others.

“It’s our reward,” she said about the early morning malt beverage.

Shea Youell, 23, a teacher at Ocracoke School, was fourth place overall with a time of 19:10.  He runs with the school’s after-school running club, along with coach Kitty Mitchell, who also ran in the race and placed second in the women’s 50 to 59 age group with a time of 27:02 minutes.

“We had a good showing for Ocracoke School,” he said.

Ann Warner, owner of Howard’s Pub and Raw Bar Restaurant also competed and won first place in the 50 to 59 age group with at time of 25 minutes.

“It’s such a treat to have a wholesome, early morning athletic event with all these age groups coming together,” she said.  “It’s good to have a positive, healthy event.”

Official results for all the age categories are listed on the website http://www.ocracokeisland5krun.org/index.asp

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