The beam of the Oak Island Lighthouse was the only bright thing in the sky Saturday morning as participants ran, walked and strolled along 5K, 10K and half-marathon routes, but the real shining moment came when the 1,217th person crossed the finish line.
“We had an amazing event this year,” Lighthouse Run chairman Seth Robbins declared afterwards. “To go from 700 to 1,400 (registered) runners is unheard of.”
Winner of the half-marathon was Tim Nichols, 33, of Wilmington, who completed the 13.1-mile course in 1:21:48 to lead a field of 459 runners in that event. Agustin Loma Martinez, 30, of Sunset Beach won the 10K race among 268 competitors, finishing in a time of 40:22.0. Luke Bennett, 16, of Durham posted a winning time of 16:41.3 to win the 5K, but Oak Island runners placed second, third and fifth.
Brothers Jack Palagruto, 17, and Cameron Palagruto, 14, were second and third with respective 5K times of 17:55.9 and 19:21.1. Suzanne Tulsey, 40, fifth overall among 490 finishers, was the top female in a time of 19:42.3.
Count among the winners the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the annual run as a fund-raising and business-building endeavor. The record participation provided a substantial boost.
“People could have just been ready to get out and run since we had such a harsh winter,” Robbins observed. “But no matter what reason, our number of registrants doubled in one year. There are so many races being offered now that most organizations are glad just to not have a decrease in participants.
“It just shows what a good show all of our volunteers put on,” he said.
Brooke Rudd, co-chairman of the 2015 Lighthouse Run, concurred.
“During packet pick-up, a mother and her two sons smiled as they talked about how they do this every year together,” said Rudd, whose took time enough to win her age group and place 34th overall on the 5K. And she gave full credit to the dozens of chamber volunteers who contributed time and energy on a damp Saturday morning.
“As with all events, volunteers are always behind the scenes helping in every capacity. Arriving on-site at 5:45 a.m. I was met with smiling faces, and breaking down the site six hours later—wet, tired and cold—everyone was still smiling,” she recalled with a smile of her own.
“I feel that people setting goals, challenging themselves, accomplishing milestones and seeing a community come together and welcome visitors makes our event memorable.”
Robbins extended his and the chamber’s appreciation to the host communities.
“With the huge increase (in registration), the towns of Caswell Beach and Oak Island did an amazing job with their first-responders, and we couldn’t have done it without them.
“Special thanks goes out to the N.C. Baptist Assembly for letting us use their amazing facility; clearly, without them we couldn’t do it.”
The top tens
Rounding out the half-marathon top 10 behind Nichols were Max Bergstrom, 22, of Greenboro, 1:25:38; Richard Simpson, 47, of Clayton, 1:26:29; Mark Manz, 29, of Durham, 1:30:16; Michael Lucas, 30, of Charleston, South Carolina, 1:31:01; Daniel Whiteley, 23, of Hampstead, 1:33:21; Duane Cargain, 46, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 1:33:24; Alex Chmiel, 36, of Carolina Beach, 1:33:53; Robert Lloyd, 33, of Stanfield, 1:34:02; Jeffery Porter, 43, of Apex, 1:34:17.
The top female finisher—11th overall—in the half-marathon was Robin Stanley of Cary. The 34-year-old posted a time of 1:35:20.
The top local male was Brian Wood, 28, of Southport, who finished 35th in a time of 1:42:43; the top local female was Jo Revelle Murray, 25, of Oak Island, whose time of 1:53:30 was good for 91st place.
In the 10K race, trailing Martinez were Brett Thomas, 14, of Greenboro, 41:16.7; Mason Schettig, 26, of Wilmington, 41:16.9; David Southerland, 44, of Wilmington, 42:09.6; Catherine Hollister—the top female runner—45, of Mt. pleasant, South Carolina, 42:21.7; Kyle Swanney, 25, of Boca Raton, Florida, 42:42.1; Thom Porter, 52, of Wilmington, 42:46.2; Christina Demers, 28, of Wilmington, 43:57.3; Andy Snead, 45, of Raleigh, 44:21.2; David Hardy, 54, of Carrboro, 45:08.3.
Top local finisher in the 10K was 15-year-old William Howard of Oak Island, who completed the 6.2-mile route in 46:22.2 to finish in 15th place. Top local female was Kris Krupp, 61, of Southport, who came in 42nd in a time of 52:31.0.
Rounding out the 5K top five behind Bennett and the Palagruto teens were Cameron Credle, 28, of Durham, 19:25.4 and Tulsey. Sixth through 10th places were Aaron Kidd, 20, 20:20.5; Luke Scacheri, 13, of Leland, 20:56.9; Robert Verzaal, 44, of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, 21:11.4; Robert Stauffer, 43, of St. Joseph, Michigan, 21:32.6.
And the 1,217th to cross the finish line was Jennifer Mott, 43, of Wilmington, who completed the half-marathon in a time of 3:44.49.9. She set the record perhaps hardest to beat, but Robbins and Rudd said the goal for 2016 has been etched clearly in the Oak Island sand.