One hill of a run: Over 200 runners cover five miles of hills in annual run

Runners prepare for the start. The Hill Run drew 245 runners to the shell mounds of Marco's estates area Saturday for five miles of ups and downs. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Runners prepare for the start. The Hill Run drew 245 runners to the shell mounds of Marco's estates area Saturday for five miles of ups and downs. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— Last December, it was the Chill Run, with temps down in the 40s. On Saturday, it was 40 degrees warmer, making the heat a factor, along with the unaccustomed gradients, as 245 runners ran five miles in this year’s running of the Hill Run.

“We’ve actually added a hill for you,” Race Director Mark McGarrity told the runners assembled behind the starting line on Barfield Drive at Shops of Marco. The twisting, serpentine course was arranged to provide the maximum ups and downs from age nine to 76 huffed and puffed up the built-up shell mounds of Marco’s estates area. The “76ers” included both Craig Carlson of Marco Island and Phil Teders of Naples; Daemian Dascoulias from Naples was the lone nine-year-old.

Perhaps the extra hill to climb, along with the heat and humidity, accounted for the fastest times being well off the record pace of 21 minutes, 12 seconds for the course. Jesse Armbruster finished first, at 28:19.8, with Rebecca Murray of Bedfordshire, England topping all females with a time of 29:11.2. Long after the leaders had finished, had their electronic timing chips removed (from their shoelaces, not implanted below the skin yet) and drunk or doused themselves with water bottles handed to them by volunteers from Gulf Coast Runners, who organized the event, runners were still trickling in, with the last finish recorded at the one hour, 15 minute mark.

Lorraine Graefenstein stood along the course, calling out encouragement as the runners streamed past.

“You can do it! We flattened the hills out for you,” she said, over and over, her nose growing longer with each repetition. Each runner also received a “well done” from the volunteers at the finish line, along with their water bottle.

“This weather is beautiful if you’re not running,” said Ashley Hoffman, cooling herself off with a bottled water shower.

George Dascoulias of Naples ran at least a hundred yards of the course backwards, turning around to see how his son Daemian, that nine-year-old runner, was doing.

Local runner Maura Rose Poling, 14, finished first in her age group, at 37:05.7. Her brother Mickey accepted her prize goblet, as she was already off to a soccer game, leading to cries of “Hey! You’re not Rosie.” Bailey Greaves of Marco, 14, notched a 41:22.4.

Maria Lamb, in a more senior category, also finished first with a time of 44:0.9.

“I love this race. It’s great to have a chance to run in the hills,” said Susan Cone of Naples. “It’s a nice way to kick off Christmas.” A number of runners took that to heart, togged out in Santa hats or red and green stockings. Leah McCarthy took it a step further, running with decorations that gave her the look of a candy cane.

For complete race results, go online to www.gcrunner.org.

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