Bushwacker 5K benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters and sets new records


By Julie B. Connerley


††††††††††† The Captí n Fun Runners, known for their well organized events and fun-loving antics, have set a new record for the number of entrants in their annual fundraiser 5K!

††††††††††† The 2003 Bushwacker 5K, to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters, attracted almost 1400 runners Ė at least 200 more than last yearís event which is held in conjunction with the Islandís Bushwacker Festival.Ages ranged from 8 to 79.

††††††††††† As hosts for Pensacola Beachís largest annual foot race, more than 200 Captín Fun volunteers provided logistical coordination, course workers, aid stations, handled registration and awards, and energized the crowds at the post-race party with their favorite band, Main Street.

††††††††††† Each volunteer also donates $5 to offset costs of their shirts associated with the fundraiser.

††††††††††† However, one of their most impressive accomplishments is providing complimentary refreshments after the race for competitors and their friends.

††††††††††† From fresh fruit and watermelons, to pizza, sandwiches, desserts and more, Captín Fun Runners are totally responsible for feeding more than 1,400 tired but happy competitors and volunteers.

Captín Fun food volunteers, headed up by Denice Hair, worked hard to ensure everyone had enough to eat after the race and before the party at the Quietwater Boardwalk band shell began.

ďWe were very pleased to have enough food left over to donate some to Loaves and Fishes,Ē smiled Hair Saturday afternoon.

††††††††††† Captín Fun himself, Island resident, Glenn Windham added, ďThe event has grown from a local run to one of the best on the Gulf Coast.We look forward to seeing our running friends from New Orleans, Dothan, Tallahassee and Birmingham who return year after year to help make the event the success that it is.Ē

††††††††††† The host volunteers always wear a Bushwacker 5K tank top that is a different color from the run shirts.They are complemented with Hawaiian attire, crazy hats, decorated shoes, grass skirts, and other novelty accessories, which adds to the festive atmosphere.

This year, some male runners got into the spirit by jogging in coconut bikini tops and grass skirts themselves!

††††††††††† Besides a record turnout, Jenny Ledford, 23, of Pensacola, turned in a new course record.Ledford an active duty Marine, the overall female winner, ran a 5:38 pace over the 3.1-mile course to better the old course record by 47 seconds.

††††††††††† Overall male winner was Michael Padilla, 18 of Pensacola, who ran the distance in 15:41 seconds.For complete race results, visit www.runresults.net.

††††††††††† Of special interest to the crowd gathered at the band shell for the awards, was the inspirational story of Mackey Tyndall, 47, of Panama City.

††††††††††† Married 26 years, Tyndall has been dealing with physical disabilities for the past 15 years.

††††††††††† Diagnosed 15 months ago with Avascular Necrosis and Osteo Arthritis, and Degenerative Disc Syndrome in the right wrist and hand, Tyndall began a self-determined rehabilitative program.

††††††††††† After several surgeries, Tyndall is fighting his way back and as the only wheelchair competitor in the Bushwacker 5K, did the entire distance in a standard wheelchair (as opposed to a racing chair)!

††††††††††† The running community was so impressed by his determination that the Captín Fun Runners have vowed to help raise monies to buy him the special chair he needs to continue entering running events. Along with the Captí n Fun Runners the Seville Quarter Milers are planning a fund raiser and the North West Fla Track Club has pledged $500.00 toward the cause.

††††††††††† The Captí n Fun Runners have scheduled a special Hallo-wheels Fun Run for Mackey , Wednesday, October 29, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Quietwater Beach Boardwalk.For more information, call the Captín Fun Runners at 934-1248, or Captnfun@att.net.

††††††††††† Last yearís Bushwacker 5K raised $3,700.00 for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and race organizers expects to set a new fundraising record as well.

††††††††††† Congratulations to all the winners, and everyone who supported this worthwhile event.