By Connie Leinbach
Kevin Perez, 18, of Ocracoke, sprinted to the finish line Saturday morning to win the 5K race for the second consecutive year.
His time was 17:38, and following close behind him was Chito Guerrero, 35, also of Ocracoke, who had a 17:49-minute time.
Overall, in the 5K, 224 racers crossed the finish line and 47 ran the 10K.
Chito will run the half-marathon (13 miles) today, which starts at 8 a.m. (a bit north of Howard’s Pub on Irvin Garrish Highway), goes throughout the island then back out to the NPS campground, and ends at Gaffer’s Sports Pub.
Kevin’s sister, Karen Perez, 16, won the 5K overall in the women’s division with a time of 20:59, and their mother, Lulu Perez, 40, won her age category (40 to 49) at 22:56 minutes. Lulu will also run the half-marathon today.
Nasho Villaneuva of Ocracoke won his 40 to 49 age group with a time of 43:53.
“I feel better running the 10K than the 5K,” he said while cooling down afterwards.
Keith Gray, 51, of Buxton, won the 10K (two laps of the 5K route) with a time of 38:08 minutes, and his wife, Angela Gray, won the overall women’s 10K with a 46:15-minute time.
While she was happy for the overall win, she wasn’t happy with her time.
“I think I would’ve run faster if there had been more people around,” she said about the sometimes solo effort of running a longer race. “It’s hard to motivate when I’m out there by myself.”
Both Keith and Angela are hoping their presence will motivate their friend Joe Caroppoli of Buxton, who will run the half-marathon.
“Under one hour, 20 minutes is my goal tomorrow,” Caroppoli said as he milled about outside Gaffer’s Sports Pub with the other runners. His personal half-marathon best is 1:20:30.
The Grays have not entered the race, but will still run it, they said.
Half-marathon veterans, Keith said that at the 10-mile mark in the half-marathon, the race becomes a different animal.
“That’s when the race starts,” he said.
About 60 participated in the Family Fun Run that started at 10 a.m. at Ocracoke Child Care and ended at Ocracoke Coffee Company, sponsor of the event.
Danny Bedillo, 8, was first through that finish line.
“He was super fast,” said Joelle LeBlanc, owner of the shop. “He came across that line before I got back with Mickey and Minnie. (Costumed mascots who make appearances at various events on the island.)”
Danny was happy to best his showing last year, which was second place.
Greg Honeycutt, race organizer, said about 130 are registered for the half-marathon.
He was happy with Saturday’s events, noting that it was “pretty flawless.”
“The weather cooperated, and Gaffer’s went way beyond,” he said about the post-run party. “The food spread was absolutely amazing. People raved about the food.”
The races are a fundraiser for WOVV 90.1FM Ocracoke Community Radio, Ocracoke Community Park, Ocracoke School Athletic Boosters Club and Ocracoke Child Care.
From sponsors, entry fees and raffle ticket sales, he expects proceeds to be about $40,000 to be divided among those four nonprofits.
Next year’s races are scheduled for April 29 and 30.
For complete results, visit Run The East website and look for the Ocracoke race here.