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By Connie Leinbach
Lisa Wilkinson of “little” Washington, Beaufort County, echoed several 5K/10K racers on Saturday during the 6th Annual Jolly Roger 5K and Queen Anne’s Revenge 10K run fest here when she praised event and the island setting.
“This is like the cream of the crop,” she said about the race and the organizers in her first-ever visit to the island. “The way they treat you—everyone is so pleasant, and I got a medal.”
Wilkinson was talking about the pirate-themed event and medals all runners received this year for participating.
She was among 239 signed up for the 5K race through the village. The 61 runners in the 10K ran the course twice.
Wilkinson, 48, had a time of 37 minutes and 11 seconds, which was not good enough to beat the front runners Alfonso “Chito” Guerrero, 36, of Ocracoke, whose time of 18 minutes, 13 seconds, beat second-place finisher Keith Gray, 52, of Buxton, 18:47.
Jordi Perez, 17, of Ocracoke came in third overall at 19:31.
Guerrero and Gray have been the top racers to beat since the event began in 2012.
“I’ll never forget the first year,” said Brian Taylor, with Run The East, the official timekeeper. “There were a bunch of guys from Raleigh all decked out in sponsorship gear and fancy shoes, and here comes Chito in a tank top and basketball shoes and blew them all away.”
Guerrero won that first 5K race, barelly breaking a sweat in a time of 18:09 minutes.
In the 5K women’s division on Saturday, Ocracoke School alumna Abigail Morris, 21, captured first-place with a time of 20:51.
“It wasn’t my best time,” Morris said as she cooled down.
She was followed by Marissa Gross, 37, of Ocracoke, clocking 21:09, and Karen Perez, 17, an Ocracoke School senior, with a third-place time of 21:27.
The summer-like heat on both Saturday and Sunday affected all of the racers.
“I passed someone I usually don’t pass,” Gross said about Saturday’s race.
Gross also competed in the half-marathon on Sunday, capturing the top women’s spot and placing third overall with a time of 1:38:55.
“This was the hottest race I’ve run since the 2003 L.A. Marathon,” she said after crossing the finish line at Gaffer’s where all races began and ended. The first half of the half-marathon goes through Ocracoke Village, then out intothe NPS campground and back to Gaffer’s.
Gray finished first in that race with a time of 1:30:19. Guerrero was right behind and finished in 1:38:13.
“It was my personal worst by three minutes,” Gray said while cooling down. “I was just praying at mile 12 to get to mile 13 without passing out.”
He was referring to the final six-mile stretch outside the village.
“A lot of people stopped to walk,” he said about the half-marathon, “and a lot of people never do that. I was taking as many water breaks as I could. It was an unusually hot day.”
That final stretch of the race got the better of islander Genaro “Junior” Perez, who was in fourth place behind Gray, Guerrero and Gross when they passed by Sunset and Trent Drives (about 4.5 miles). But Perez got overheated along the final stretch and needed medical attention.
After treatment by the island’s EMS team, Perez was transported to the Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head.
He returned Sunday night, said his wife Gloria Perez, and was doing OK and taking it easy Monday. Perez had won first place in his age group in the 5K on Saturday with a time of 19:40, and was fourth overall in that race.
Gray’s wife, Angela, 35, was the second-place finisher overall among the women in the half-marathon with a time of 1:52:00.
Islander Angie Todd, 39, who was co-director for the weekend with race director Gregg Honeycutt, won third overall of the women half-marathoners with a time of 1:55:13 and was ninth overall. On Saturday, she won her 30 to 39 female age group in the 5K.
The new high school math teacher at Ocracoke School, Beth Layton, walked in both the 10K and the half-marathon and placed 82nd out of 87 who braved the 13-mile race with a time of 3:30:53. She placed third in the female 60 to 69 age group in the 10K.
“I always walk,” she said about the many races she participates in. “I never run.”
In the 10K, Thomas Millard, 49, placed first with a time of 37:25. He was followed by islander Gustavo Trejo, a first-time 10K runner, who posted a time of 40:10.
Sara Edwardson, 24, of Durham, came in third overall in that race with a time of 44:46.
In the Family Fun Run on Saturday, which took place after the first two races, islander Jayden West, 13, came in first.
He was followed by Landon Ragland, 13, of Washington, Beaufort County, and Parker Sheppard, 12, also of “little” Washington.
About 40 children and adults of all ages participated in the one-mile route from Ocracoke Child Care on Old Beach Road to Ocracoke Coffee, the sponsor of that event.
“The kids love it,” said Joelle LeBlanc, owner, while handing a muffin to 2-year-old Isaac Rosales, the youngest participant, who made the trek with his dad, Fidel.
Honeycutt was happy with the weekend from which he expects to raise close to $40,000 to benefit four island nonprofits: Ocracoke’s community radio station WOVV 90.1 FM, the Ocracoke School Booster Club, Ocracoke Community Park and Ocracoke Child Care.
Though he was concerned about Perez’s situation and the unseasonably warm weather, Honeycutt was happy that Perez was OK, and praised the many volunteers who helped and the sponsors, whose donations help fund the event.
“It couldn’t have gone much better,” he said.
Full results on all of the races can be found on the Run The East website here.