Florida Striders set another World Record
by Mike Marino
It started last year when we shattered the record for the fastest 100 x 10K relay. It was challenging
and a logistical nightmare, but we raised over $6000 for the Donna
Foundation to assist women with breast cancer, we got a lot of great
press, it was a whole lot of fun, and it was really cool to be world
record holders. The question immediately following that event was, “can
we do again next year?” Well why not? Everyone was up for it, to
include the Donna Foundation, Bishop Snyder High School, and a whole
lot of runners. May as well have some more fun, raise money for charity
again, and perhaps the one thing better than one world record would be
two world records.
The planning started in April. We wanted to do a new record, a 100 x 5K
relay. The attempt was approved, though we were given a time limit of
40 hours in order for it to be recognized as a record. The time limit
meant we had to average a 24 minute 5K, something our club had the
runners to do.
The recruiting of the runners resulted in a highly diverse group. We
had the really fast as well as those who simply love running and wanted
the opportunity to be part of a world record. We had the young, with
two 9-years-olds, a 10-year-old and several high school students. We
had veterans, with long time Strider 76-year-old Al Saffer being the
eldest to step up to run. We had the usual suspects from the
Jacksonville racing community; we had runners from out of town. We had
a police officer, a firefighter, naval officers, and five guys from the
Jacksonville Jaguars, including the head trainer and an assistant
coach. All 100 runners were congratulated on their selection, and then
reminded that it would take all 100 of them coming through for the
attempt to be successful, and only one runner not doing their 5K for
the entire thing to fail.
In order to avoid the Festival of Lights and a Jaguars home game, we
scheduled the attempt to end on Saturday afternoon. This meant a 2:00
a.m. start on Friday morning. Keith Poythress and I were among the
first to arrive at the Bishop Snyder track around 1:00 a.m. As it would
turn out, he and I would be there for the entire event. Frank Frazier
was there to help out at the start too, and he too would be at the
track for many hours, to include all hours followed by “a.m.” for the
entire event. It was a perfect night; cool, clear, ideal for running.
The forecast was perfect too, with highs in the 60s and clear skies,
which was incredible compared to the pouring rain, cold and wind we
dealt with last year.
Our first runner, Charlie Hunsberger, was ready to go. Charlie had
waited over a year for this, as he had to pull out of last year’s world
record due to injury. Volunteers ready, cameras ready, timing ready,
GO! Woohoo, go Charlie, yay, and… uh oh! One of the clocks didn’t
start. CHARLIE!, come back! He didn’t hear us right away, and I tried
to see if I could fix the one clock, but couldn’t. Charlie got warm-up
lap, I got some good natured ribbing while getting the timing in order,
and Charlie started again. We got through the initial exchanges without
incident, though we found things were more challenging than last year,
as it was much more fast paced. We adapted though, and focus went back
on the runners. Al Saffer ran 5th, which was inspiring, at 76-years-old
he was going for a world record by running at 3:30 a.m. Bill Krause
gave a solid effort, recording a post-surgery PR.
At around 4:30a.m., a mist rolled in and brought a wet chill with it.
It was cold, but we knew the forecast had the sun coming up soon to
warm things up. A few hours later when the sun came up, it was blocked
out by clouds. A quick check of the forecast found it had been revised.
We were not going to have a nice day, as a front came in further south
than expected. Intermittent rain would start, and we had to deal with
miserable weather again. It was a wet cold too, with a chill you just
couldn’t shake. People were trying their best to stay warm, being all
bundled up. One runner, Amanda Napolitano, was wearing a scarf at the
beginning of her run.
The running continued, and with some speed. Kaitlyn Iselborn, a member
of Florida State’s women’s cross country and track teams, turned in the
fastest woman’s time. Paul McRae blazed out the fastest individual time
for the event, maintaining just over a five-minute pace. Bill Phillips
would post the fastest masters time, which was also the third fastest
individual time for the event. Lisa Adams ran the second fastest
We made it to the end of the school day, and then got a scare. The
Bishop Snyder student scheduled to run right after school reportedly
left for a family emergency. We had about 15 minutes to get someone on
the track. The coach from Bishop Snyder sent the student scheduled to
run second, though he seemed a little anxious by the limited time to
warm-up. Luckily, Brian Schneider, an assistant trainer with the
Jaguars, was there early, and when asked if he could be ready to go in
10 minutes, he calmly replied, “no problem.” We still had to find a
replacement, but had more time. I got ready to run, but then the coach
came through, bringing me another student from the cross country team.
The kid came up to me all smiles, his braces gleaming, saying he could
run. When I explained to him he had to finish no matter what, that 99
people were depending on him for a world record, his smile went away.
He did maintain he was up to it though, so I told him to suit up.
The Bishop Snyder runners ran very well, putting up solid times. They
along with a few of the runners from the Jaguars took us into the
night. And with the night, Regina Sooey became the life of the party.
She would man the stationary camera, filming all action, which is a
requirement to document the record. She would also provide commentary,
which wasn’t required, but hilarious. We’re not sure what was in her
water bottle, but I know I want to have some the next time I go out.
Regina would keep us laughing past midnight. All the while runners were
stepping up with solid performances. Dan Adams ran a PR. Chris and
Diana Twiggs took a little less than 40 minutes between them and got a
kiss in during their baton exchange. Ron Porter took us into Saturday,
giving the baton to Sue Miller, who ran the fastest woman’s masters
time. Sue handed off the Ben Huron, who ran the second fastest
individual time for the event.
We got through the early morning hours, and people started asking if
Keith and I had gotten any sleep. I had gotten some in the concession
stand and while in a chair in the tent. Keith hadn’t, as he manned the
second exchange zone for just about the entire time.
Runners from the 26.2 with Donna came out for their training run
Saturday morning and hung out to cheer us on. Tim Deegan ran his leg
while Donna Deegan was getting footage and interviews for First Coast
News. We were 85 runners into the event, and now it was time for our
youngest runners to get the baton. Our 10-year-old, Cole Mandt, would
come through with flying colors, finishing with a amazing sprint. The
two 9-year-olds would come through as well, with Bryce Stalter putting
up an impressive time and Vincent Sabatella giving a solid performance
despite a spike in the temperature.
Now it was just a matter of finishing; one runner getting the baton to
the next. Everyone kept coming through, and we made it to anchor, Donna
Deegan. She would run steady and smooth, recording negative splits, and
then breaking through the tape. We’d done it again – another world
record. And just as Donna finished, the sun would come out, as if to
shine on us for a great effort. Our official time – 37 hours, 12
minutes, 54 seconds. We raised more money than last year too, bringing
in over $6400 to go to women with breast cancer. We got good press
again, we had a lot of fun again, and someone asked the question
again….can we do it again next year? We’ll see.
Records for Mass Relays,
of the Record Attempt,
Florida Striders Track Club,
Back to the World Record Homepage