In its 40th year, the Marco Island 5-Mile Hill Run sponsored by the Gulf Coast Runners of Naples took place right before Christmas, with a record turnout of runners.
The challenging course is known as “the toughest course in Southwest Florida.” On race day morning, the humidity presented another layer of challenge for the runners. With over 350 finishers, this year’s run experienced a record number of runners.
It has been said that, “the family that runs together, stays fit together.” This race was also turned into a Christmas tradition for many local runners and their visiting family members. The Poling family came ready to race with oldest daughter Rosie, who just arrived home from her first semester at Harvard. Grandparents Silky and Kathy Sullivan were on hand to cheer them on.
Naples residents, Glenn and Terri Guadi brought along their son Glenn, Jr. and daughter Jeanine, who are both from New York City. Mom Terri was disappointed to sit this one out, due to a meniscus tear. But she came ready with her cowbells and loud cheers for all the runners.
With just two days before Christmas, the race took on a festive mood. Top Overall Female Winner, Rachel Hegele of Ave Maria, Florida, a seasoned runner of 20 marathons, led the holiday spirit as she raced decked out in a red jester’s cap and festive red and gold tutu. Other runners wore red and green socks, red shirts, and even reindeer antlers and jingling bells.
Most of the out-of-town runners did not realize that Marco Island actually had some serious hills. Pre-race, there was a lot of kidding centered around the challenge presented by “the toughest hills in Southwest Florida.” With their first ascent from the bottom of S. Inlet/South Barfield to the top at Olds Court, reality began to sink in with 16 more hills to go!
Being a family fun oriented race, runners crossed the finish line with lots of smiles and sighs of relief. The five-miler was one way to burn off the calories from the dinner the night before; or to get ready for the upcoming multi-course Christmas feast; or the start of a New Year’s resolution to stay fit and active.
Congratulations to all the finishers with a special shout-out to all Marco Island runners: William Ramos, Jim Chamberlin, Scott Hopkins, Albert Van Der Schans, Nicole Cholka, Lori Reckley, Robert Asbell, Cindy Roloff, Katie Schiller, Tara Snyder, Raquel Herrera, Kimberly Lawson, Caithlin Schwab, Emma Fernandez, Bonnie Rousseau, Susan Linn, Lori Larkin, Craig Carlson, Jeannie Mauchline, Shelby Mauchline, Matt Mauchline, Carl Kepford, Al Wagner, Kathleen Cashin, Carrie Bamberger, Pamela Rakoczyk, Dawn Snyder, Paul Tateo, Sierra Grzybowki, Max Derfalt, Michelle & Shawn Hurtley, Cassidy Penzo, Gabrielle Penzo, Logan Meester, Karla Meester, Patricia, Robert, Rosie, Michael, Eileen & Maggie Poling, Ryenn Hart, Jennifer Hart, Brandon Black, Chris Black, and Charles & Maria Lamb.
Top Overall Male Winners:
1st Place – Kurt Roeser (Boulder, Colorado)
2nd Place – Argeo Cruz (Immokalee, Florida)
3rd Place – Dan Hilbers (Port Elgin, ON)
Top Overall Female Winners:
1st Place: Rachel Hegele (Ave Maria, Florida)
2nd Place: Alexis Lamb (Marco Island)
3rd Place: Ryenn Hart (Marco Island)