By Connie Leinbach
Angie Todd got her wish over the weekend as more than 500 runners took part in the Scallywag 5K/10K and Blackbeard’s half-marathon on Ocracoke.
Angie oversaw the island’s biggest race to date since the road race began in 2012 with a 5K.
“It was just an awesome event,” said Red Harrell, co-owner of Gaffer’s where all three of the timed races began and ended, as he and his wife, Ashley, organized a buffet lunch for the runners on both days and as he surveyed the crowd of runners, spectators and volunteers outside the building. “It was a lot of work to get here, but it’s worth it.”
Many first-time-at-Ocracoke runners praised the event, always the last Saturday and Sunday in April, the locale and the favorable weather.
“It was a perfect weekend,” said Charlotte Nelson of Simsbury, Conn., who with her husband Steve, visited the island for the first time specifically to run in the half-marathon, a 13-mile trek through the village and to the NPS campground.
The couple has a goal of running a half-marathon in all 50 states.
“They chose ours for North Carolina,” said Greg Honeycutt, one of the race coordinators who announced the half-marathon winners on Sunday.
A multi-year project, Charlotte said this was their seventh in their 50 half-marathon quest.
Cole Clodgo of Raleigh was the youngest runner, at age 12, and the only one in the 1 to 19 age group, to complete the half-marathon, his first ever.
Frequent vacationers on Ocracoke, Cole’s parents compete in Iron Man events, and both Cole and his sister, Kristen, follow the family avocation and are runners, too.
Cole’s parents, Candace and David, and Cole’s grandfather Scott Davis, became the cheering squad for the weekend.
“But we’ll all be here next year to do the race,” Candace said.
Cole’s time was 2:12:10, but that wasn’t enough to beat front runner Alfonso “Chito” Guerrero, 37, of Ocracoke, who completed the course in 1:25:50.
He was among several islanders who dominated the three races over the weekend.
“Chito is killer!” said Marissa Gross, 38, of Ocracoke, the female first-place winner and eighth overall at 1:40:20.
Not too far behind Guerrero were Jesse Austin, 40, of Portsmouth, Va., at 1:32:33, and Gustavo Trejo, 31, of Ocracoke, who placed third overall at 1:33:45.
Of the women, Grace Ridley, 39, of Conover, N.C., was second at 1:41:30, and Gloria Perez, 38, of Ocracoke came in third at 1:52:08.
Guerrero was overall winner of the 5K on Saturday with a time of 18:33, followed by Andy Painter, 36, of Cary, N.C. at 19:01 and Reese Gaskins, 15, of Ocracoke, who was third overall at 19:08.
Guerrero and Keith Gray and his wife, Angela of Buxton have been the runners to beat—in all the races–since the race began seven years ago, but the Grays did not attend the event this year.
Ocracoke islander and Meredith College (Raleigh) student Karen Perez, 18, was the female 5K winner at 21:03, followed by Erin Bennink, 26, of Oak Island, N.C., at 21:22 and Grace Ridley, 39, of Conover, N.C., at 21:30.
Ridley was among the many first-timers to the island for the weekend and did the “Lt. Maynard Challenge,” one short race and the half-marathon.
“It helps clear my head,” she said about running on Saturday after the 5K. “I get a rush from the race.”
She praised the flat course as did others, although those who competed in the half-marathon noted the wind bearing down on them in the first part—the long straightaway out N.C. 12 to the NPS Campground.
“The wind really crushed me,” said Joe Chestnut, 25, formerly of Ocracoke who now lives in Arlington, Va. He placed third in his 20 to 29 age group with a 1:45:52 time.
Paul and Marybeth Brown of Athens, Ohio, were on the island for the first time while on their honeymoon.
“My time was really slow,” Marybeth said, but that didn’t matter. “We’ve had a fantastic week. We laughed the whole time.”
After Elizabeth DiLeonardi of Durham ran the 5K, she, her husband, Sean, and their children, Rocco, 7, and Olive, 6, went to the Ocracoke Coffee Family Fun run where Sean and the kids competed in the mile race.
They didn’t win their first-ever, but they were philosophical.
“I never gived up,” (sic) said Rocco. “I never stopped.”
Olive, 6, said she wasn’t tired the first half of the mile.
“But the second half, I was tired,” she said.
Island boy Jacob Daniels, 11, won the race, followed by Jayden Suazo-Dominguez, 8, and Auggie Giagu, 10.
Melanie Perez, 11, was the first girl to cross the finish line outside Ocracoke Coffee Company on Sunset Drive.
“We plan for about 50,” said Joelle LeBlanc, Coffee Company owner as she awaited the parents and children to cross under a blow-up finish arch.
Greg Honeycutt, former race director but still part of the organizing, told the runners before the starting bell on Saturday that in the last seven years the event has raised more than $200,000, from entry fees and sponsorships, for local nonprofits. Each race raises about $40,000.
After expenses, beneficiaries this year are WOVV 90.1 FM, Ocracoke’s community radio, the Ocracoke School Boosters, and the Ocracoke Youth Center, which runs the Community Park ballfield.
“It’s a really big deal having Angie on board,” he said about Angie Todd, who became the race director this year and enhanced the website and the quality of the T-shirts and medals. “She goes to all of these events. We had over 500 for the weekend.”
Race Director Angie Todd, along with organizing everything, welcomed the runners and handed out medals along with other volunteers, for all of timed races and was pleased with the weekend.
About 200 signed up at the last minute, she said, resulting in a shortage of T-shirts and medals, but more will be ordered and shipped to those who didn’t get them, she said.
“We were taken by total surprise,” she said about the increase in runners this year. But that’s a good problem. The weather was excellent; there were no serious injuries, although there were a couple of minor falls.
“I’m really proud of it,” she said.
Overall winners of the 10K were Samuel Arey, 30, of Raleigh, first place at 42:56; Ryan Miranda, 23, of Greenville, second place at 42:56; Nasho Villanueva, 44, of Ocracoke, third place at 44:09; Victoria Brinson, 32, of Edenton, first place at 48:49; Claire Ross, 31, of Ocracoke, second place at 50:32; and Brooke Lambert, 33, of Wilmington, third place at 51:04.
All race results can be found at runtheast.com.
To read about last year’s race, click here.