April 28, 2014

Puddles don’t slow down runners
in third annual Ocracoke race


Alfonso “Chito” Guerrero looked like a gazelle as he bounded ahead of the pack to win the 10K portion of the third annual 5K/10K Ocracoke Island race on Saturday.  It was his third time winning the race in as many years with a time of 38:40.

Guerrero, 33, hardly looked winded as he and other runners gathered at Gaffer’s Sports Pub where the race registration, awards and after-party were held. The first year of the race was only a 5K, which Guerrero won, and the first time for the 10K last year, Guerrero also won.

After Saturday’s main event, Guerrero’s five-year-old son, Imanol, came in second in the Family Fun Run, in which Chito also ran.

Second in the 10K was Josh Lewis, 31, of Greenville, at 40:48 minutes, and David Tweedie of Ocracoke was third at 41:20 minutes.

For the women, Kyle Palmquist, 29, of Durham won the 10K at 44:01 minutes, followed by Lulu Perez, 38, of Ocracoke, 45:16 minutes, and Stacey Bone, 30, of Greenville at 52:02 minutes.

In the 5K, Ocracoke’s Kevin Perez, 16, won at 18:10 minutes.  Following close behind him was Keith Gray of Buxton, 49, at 18:12 minutes. Heib Clements, 44, no city given, was third at 20:04.

“He’s really improved since last year,” noted Gray about Perez as both cooled down after the 5K.

“Youth trumps age,” Gray, an avid runner with his wife, Angela, said. “He beat me right at the end of the race by two seconds.”

A thunderstorm Friday night soaked the island, filling the usual puddle spots with water.

“I ran right through them,” Perez said as he caught his breath.  

“I saw Keith and Kevin go right through those puddles as if they weren’t there,” gushed Justin LeBlanc, owner of Ocracoke Coffee, along the race route and where the Family Fun Run began and ended.

Most all of the other runners ran around them.

“I wanted to lay into one of those puddles, but I didn’t,” noted Catherine Farley, 24, who is new to running and had run her first-ever 5K with a time of 36:02.

Kati Wharton, 40, said that there were ways around all the puddles along the route.

“I was slow, but I had fun,” she said about the 5K race and her time of 41:07. “It’s fun running here because people know your name. All along the way people were cheering.”

Mila Ortiz, 12, a sixth-grader and member of the Ocracoke School Running Club, ran her fourth 5K and said her time of 34:29 missed her personal best by two minutes.

“Running is a good way to get your energy out,” she said about the sport.

Alison Smith, 60, of Charlotte, won in her age group of 60 to 69, with a 55:28 time.  She said she is mainly a swimmer and may run one race a year, but as an island property owner wanted to participate in the race.

“I don’t like big races with a lot of people, but this one was very nice with fun, friendly people,” she said.

Ann Warner, 55, of Ocracoke, who won first-place in her age category in the 5K with a time of 27:42, noted that Bill Gilbert, 58, of Ocracoke had the same time.

“The competition continues,” she said.

A sponsor of the race as well, Warner said the race is a great thing for the island.

“It’s such a healthy, positive activity for the community,” she said. “There are people of all age groups here, and it’s a beautiful day.  The wind was a bit stiff.”

As the 267 runners mingled after the race in the parking lot, Gaffer’s new owner Red Harrell said the experience of hosting the event was a great experience.

“I’m glad to see all these people here,” he said.

Edwin Perez, 10, was first place in the Family Fun Run, and Parker Sheppard, 11, was third.

Gregg Honeycutt, chairman of the event, hopes that this year’s race will yield more than $30,000 for three island charities: Ocracoke Community Park, WOVV 90.1 FM and the Ocracoke School Athletic Boosters.

“This year’s race was the best yet with nothing but positive feedback,” he said, noting that several more runners registered this year, including more out-of-town runners, and more for the 10K.

“A big shout-out to the 40 volunteers who helped us on-site and throughout the village,” Honeycutt added. “We just had fantastic support including deputies from the Hyde County Sheriff’s Department and park rangers helping with traffic control.”

Results in all of the age categories can be found online at www.runtheeast.com.


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