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  • Patti Sponsler

FIrecracker 5K Hot to Trot!


Melbourne's Ella Grace Helton leads more than 1,300 competitors in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner at the Firecracker 5K on July 4 in Eau Gallie, FL. The multitalented 11-year-old actress just wrapped season four of Sweet Magnolias, Netflix release date tbd. KEITH SNODGRASS photo.

The Firecracker 5K (3.1 miles) kicked off the Running Zone Foundation’s 2024-25 Run Brevard Race Series in downtown Eau Gallie on July 4.


And, dang, was it hot!


While all races are challenging, the 7 a.m. start stats offered 79 degrees, 88% humidity, a dew point of 75 and zero breeze to help sweep the sweat on the out-and-back broiler over the Eau Gallie causeway.


"Just a totally sadistic course design for a 4th of July race," Melbourne run coach Doug Nichols quipped wryly on his Facebook page post-race.


No one wanted to push the pace early during the hot, humid Firecracker 5K on July 4 in Eau Gallie, FL. The leaders in the initial foray up the causeway included (left to right) 975: Drew Wahlgren, 18, Princeton, IL; 175: Logan Chapman, 19, Port St. John; 245: Simon DeVoss, 21, Mims; 1224: Woody Snoberger, 39, Ridgeley, WV; 486: Skyler Jensen, 17, Melbourne;, 1107: Luke Thomas, 16, Melbourne. Photo courtesy KEITH SNODGRASS.

An unusually large pack of seven guys cruised through the first mile in five minutes, twenty seconds.


"Everyone knew that it was hot and humid," said eventual race winner Simon DeVoss. " No one wanted to go hard early - the more people up front, the better."


DeVoss decided to go when four men were still together at the two-mile mark in 10:41.


“I was going to wait until we were back across the bridge and then kick at the end,” said DeVoss, who had won the 2022 race in 15:59 with his sprint during the last 100 yards.  “Everyone was starting to fade up the bridge. I made a little surge halfway up and grabbed the lead by about five seconds. Once you get it, you don’t want anyone back with you, especially David (McCollam)!”

 


Simon DeVoss celebrates his second Firecracker 5K victory with Running Zone's Zippy the Gecko. Photo: KEITH SNODGRASS (huge kudos to whoever was wearing that hot costume during the awards!)

Five seconds turned into nine as the 21-year-old rising Florida Southern senior from Mims grabbed another Firecracker 5K victory in 16:20, followed by Titusville’s David McCollam, 45, in 16:29. The two often train together in north Brevard.

 

Woody Snoberger, 39, of Ridgely, West Virginia, whom McCollam had invited to race, placed third in 16:46.

 

The combined times of both DeVoss and McCollam, together with Logan Chapman, Sam Jubb and Kaitlin Donner, gave the New Wave Racing Team the win in team competition, 1:14 faster than second place team Rip Tide.


Women's champ, Kaitlin Donner, encourages her almost two-year-old son, Mikey, across the finish line in one of the many kids' races offered at the Firecracker 5K. Her other son, Chris, 5, also finished his tot trot event. Watching her kids have fun running and sharing red, white and blue popsicles afterward are two of Donner''s favorite things about this family-friendly hometown 5K. Photo: KEITH SNODGRASS (Mikey, we know how you feel at the end of a race! :))

Indian Harbour Beaches Kaitlin Donner, 34, dominated the women’s race from the start. The running/triathlon coach and owner of New Wave PT had a 2:14 cushion as she took the top spot in 17:49.

 

“The race was warm, humid and hard as expected but it was really fun to kick the series off with all of the amazing people in our running community,” said Donner, champion of both the Run Brevard and Space Coast Runners' Runner of the Year Series last season.  “It was also fun winning with Simon before he leaves for school since he is an incredible athlete and more importantly, just an incredible human who has become a friend.”

 

Fellow New Wave team member Danielle Aran, 33, of West Melbourne, followed for second in 20:03 and Palm Bay’s Kim Hunger, 43, was thrilled to place third in 20:09.

 

Palm Bay's Kim Hunger, 43, was hoping for the Master's win and was thrilled to take third OA instead. The mother of two was especially proud of her 11-year-old daughter, Aliyah, who also ran the 5K and then did the older kids' run afterward. Photo courtesy Kim Hunger.

“I was aiming for Masters’ (40+) as my goal but was so happy to get third overall,” said Hunger, a Pharmacy Manager and mother of Aliyah and Luke, who has been fighting a hamstring/ischial tube issue since completing the Boston Marathon in April. “I was happy with today’s results with minimal training. I’ve really been focusing on PT, strength and recovery.”

 

Hunger is hoping to overcome both physical and mental hurdles to win this season's Series female Master's title.

 

“I get anxiety really bad about racing, which is so stupid, but I hate it so much,” she said of the feeling many of us experience at different times and levels. “I’m trying to make myself comfortable with being uncomfortable and see what happens.”

 

Hunger has an MRI scheduled for her hamstring area on 7/16 to find a definitive answer to the continual pain and weakness she experiences.

 

“The ischial tube issue is so annoying because my heart is in great shape but when my leg starts to shut down, I have trouble picking it up,” she said. “I am looking forward to trying to get some speed back and do some shorter stuff and maybe eventually run Chicago 2025 with my Boston time from this past year.”

 

We wish Kim the very best with her comeback and offer HUGE congrats to the heat-hearty 1,374 peeps who completed this year’s Firecracker 5K. Complete race results and Keith Snodgrass photos here.


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