Friday, July 17, 2015
2015 KEYS100 Ultramarathon Race Report
RD Bob Becker
The competition was excellent and the views spectacular--as always! The 8th Annual KEYS100 race across the islands of the Florida Keys was held on May 16-17. For the first time, a 50 kilometer competition from Big Pine Key to Key West was added to the event menu: 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West, 50 miles from Marathon to Key West and our unique six runner 100 mile team relay from Key Largo to Key West. Nearly 1,200 competitors insured that the post-race action at the finish line on Higgs Beach kept rockin’! From 3:00pm on Saturday until 3:00pm Sunday, runners crossed the finish line as 2,000 burgers, 7 kegs of beer, countless pizzas and more began to disappear! And, a race tradition continued as 700 pieces of Dion’s fried chicken were enjoyed, too. At the awards program under the huge tent on the beach at noon on Sunday, over 200 awards were presented, each hand-made in the Keys. Picture the awards presentation stopping each time someone yelled, “Runner coming”, and hundreds of people stood and turned to cheer-in the last few of the 100-milers. With Gary Hempsey’s band playing “Buffett” on the beach, or the post-race party at “Smokin’ Tuna” or sunset at Mallory Square, the celebration was vintage Key West, and a great complement to the stellar athletic performances along the point-to-point Overseas Highway course. More than 75% of the race is run on the bike paths, pedestrian bridges and service roads that make-up the “Florida Overseas Heritage Trail” which parallels the roadway for most of that 100 miles. The balance is run on the road shoulder, including historic Seven Mile Bridge.
Christy Johnson in the Lower Keys
170 people were registered for the 100 miler. 144 actually toed the starting line and 97 finished—a better than expected 67% finishing rate in the sub-tropical heat of the islands in mid-May. Vanderley Pereira of Brazil beat last year’s men’s champion, Grant Maughan of Australia, for the overall win in 16:17 flat. Women’s winner, Tammy Walther, of Little Rock, Arkansas, returning to KEYS100 for the 6th time, finished 7th overall with a time of 20:16:18. There were exciting competitions throughout, including 5th place Zandy Mangold beating 6th place Will Glover by 17.8 seconds to take the Male Masters win. And Jason Romero, who won the 45-49 male age range award and finished in 9th place overall. Jason’s time was 20:31:18; he is legally blind.
The 50 mile race saw Chris Van Smith of Weston FL cross the finish line in 7:51:45 for 1st place. Top spot among the women was Caryn Lubetsky, last year’s 2nd place finisher. Caryn was 4th overall in 8:19:41. Tom Drummond of Chalfont PA, Male Masters winner in 8:52:44, was crewed by last year’s 100 mile overall winner, Alyson Venti, who reciprocated for Tom’s crew support of her 2014 record-smashing win at KEYS100, and then again in July 2014 at Badwater 135..
The inaugural 50 kilometer race was added after a chorus of requests to do so, and a consensus to make the heat a factor at that distance, too. (No “easy” ultramarathon “introductory-distance” race, this one!) The first 50 kilometer competition began at 1:00 PM on Saturday. David Kilgore of Palm Bay, FL, a KEYS100 rookie at age 23 and winner of this year’s 50 mile EVERGLADES ULTRAS trail race, broke the tape in 4:19:17 for the win. Women’s winner and 2nd overall was Fabiola Morales of Miami, FL. Fabiola’s time of 5:39:55 was only 17.4 seconds ahead of 2nd place female Caitlin Lopez of West Palm Beach.
The 100 mile team relay race produced a spectacular example of athleticism with the record-breaking performance of Space Coast Runners. The team of Shane Streufert, John Davis, Steve Chin, William Vanos, Dan Burnett and Chris Cacciapaglia completed 100 miles in 9:07:27, beating the old record by 9 minutes in significantly hotter conditions. This was one of those records that most thought would never be broken. But, Team BT’s Road Warriors “unbreakable” record stood for just one year. This was an exciting race as Space Coast Runners and BT’s Road Warriors competed head-to-head; “Road Warriors” finished 2nd. Overall, 136 teams, including 30 military teams, raced simultaneously with the individual ultramarathoners. Many teams offered individual runners their support, encouragement and camaraderie along the way while being inspired by the individual effort they witnessed under a cloudless, hot and humid South Florida sky. Our unique 100-mile relay race remains an important tradition and integral part of the KEYS100 race experience.
More than 30 states and 7 countries other than the U.S. were represented this year. The 9th Annual KEYS100 returns to the islands on May 21, 2016. Visit www.keys100.com for all the details, and check out the official race video from 2014 (http://youtu.be/einciyU4Ric) for an excellent overview of the KEYS100 race experience.