Bushwacker 5-K unites runners for charitable cause


By Julie B. Connerley

Reprinted Courtesy of The Islander


            Summer on Pensacola Beach really heats up when the Capt’n Fun Runners host their annual charity 5-K in conjunction with Jubilee’s Famous Bushwacker Music Festival.  More than 1200 registered for the 3.1-mile run last Saturday.

            Begun in 1987 (with a two-year hiatus), the event has become the largest volunteer 5-K run on the Island, and a successful fundraiser for Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  The final contribution total will be published in next week’s Islander.(4000.00)

            Glenn Windham (also known as Capt’n Fun) and more than 120 Capt’n Fun Runners and Jubilee Walkers work tirelessly to ensure that every detail of the run, which includes both Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties, is managed.

            Certifying the race course, arranging bus transportation from the Island to Gulf Breeze (where the race starts), aid stations, course safety workers, results timing, finish line announcers, awards, and last minute registrations and packet pick-up are just some of the aspects normally associated with an event of this kind.

            Afterwards, feeding 1200 tired, hot, and hungry runners and walkers is no small task.  Denice Hair and her team of 12 volunteers kept the food line moving with a veritable feast of sandwiches, fruits, cookies, brownies, chips, pizza and more, as the masses moved toward their final goal—beer and Bushwackers.

            Main Street Band, the official Capt’n Fun Runners band, played at the Quietwater Boardwalk band shell.  The band’s history with the runners includes performing the running club’s official dance song (with apologies to the original recording artists).

            But perhaps what makes the annual Bushwacker 5-K so special is the camaraderie of the runners themselves—like John Wall, of New Orleans.

            Wall, 42, first met the Capt’n Fun Runners when as a group, they visited New Orleans for a 10-K run.  “After a run,” began Wall, “everybody parties.

            “As the party wound down, a group of runners were still carrying on, so I decided I better go over and find out who they were.  It was Glenn Windham and his bunch.

            “After learning they were not from New Orleans, I gave them pointers on where to go and what to do while they were in town, and when the Capt’n Fun Runners returned to New Orleans a couple of months later, we all got together again.

            “Now whenever the Capt’n Fun Runners come to The Big Easy, they are provided with their own keg after the race” he laughed.
            Wall has participated in just about every Capt’n Fun annual 5-K since it began—because of the people he met years ago, standing around a beer keg.

Wall doesn’t just go to runs for the terrific parties, however, he has other goals too.

            “I decided to run a marathon in all 50 states,” Wall continued.  “Since completing that goal, I figured since there were only seven continents, I might as well go for a marathon on each as well.”  He has already completed three, and hopes to finish the rest by 2003.

            Runners like Brandy Stewart and Joshua Kennedy came from as far away as Mililani, Hawaii.  Youngsters Tate Illian, 7 and his 8-year-old brother Tanner, joined veteran runner, John Gray, 86, for special awards on the band stage.

Major sponsors included Albertson’s, Damian’s, Domino’s Pizza (Gulf Breeze), Hardee’s (Gulf Breeze), Key Sailing, Pensacola Beach, Krispy Kreme, Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge, and Walt Graham, a Birmingham food distributor who is passionate about his involvement with the Capt’n Fun charity run.

Everyone enjoyed beautiful weather, great music, food, beverages, and each other during the 13th annual Bushwacker 5-K, thanks to the Capt’n Fun Runners, volunteers, and sponsors.