The Times-Union rounds up top stories from Sunday’s Donna Marathon.
Duval County runners brought home a sweep in the men’s half marathon, where Chris McCaffrey earned first place ahead of Christian Skaret and Jordan Garmon. Skaret lives in Jacksonville Beach, while the first and third finishers represent Jacksonville.
“I had a game plan in mind to start the first three miles pretty slow, and then kind of roll into it,” said McCaffrey, who finished in 1:13:51. He took third in the half marathon last year.
In the women’s half marathon, Alli Gregg of Jacksonville captured the closest title of the day in 1:22:41. That placed her 45 seconds ahead of runner-up Kristen Dixon of Jacksonville Beach, while longtime St. Augustine distance contender Kim Pawelek-Brantly finished third.
Town Center move boosts Beaches business
For some businesses at the beach, the Donna Marathon meant an earlier setting on the alarm clocks for workers.
At Jax Surf and Paddle in Neptune Beach, workers opened the doors at 6 a.m. to welcome runners as they made their way to the starting line.
Up the road about a block, Joseph’s Pizza in Atlantic Beach started serving food and drinks at 8 a.m, two hours before usual.
For multiple businesses around the commercial district at the eastern tip of Atlantic Boulevard, the marathon’s move to the Beaches Town Center proved a race-day boon.
Emilie Christenson, president of the Beaches Town Center Merchants Association, estimated that roughly 80 percent of the businesses in the area held some form of promotion for the race, and several are donating portions of the proceeds from this week’s sales to breast cancer support.
She acknowledged that the event did produce some inconvenience for customers, particularly early in the weekend when access to the center was restricted. In the big picture, though, she said the opportunity more than compensates.
“We’re just happy to support such a great cause, and show off our special little beach community,” Christenson said. “It’s a super-cool place, it’s really laid back and understated, and a lot of people don’t know about it. But the cat’s out of the bag now.”
Dog scare disrupts finish
Though much of Sunday’s race went off without trouble, veteran Jacksonville runner Julie Stackhouse was injured in a frightening incident along the route.
Stackhouse, a past winner of both the Donna Marathon and half marathon, crossed the finish line with visible injuries. The cause, she said: An attack from a pit bull in Neptune Beach, about one mile from the end of the run.
After a stop at the medical tent, Stackhouse said she received stitches and shots at a nearby emergency room.
Despite several cuts, she continued on to finish fourth in 1:25:54.
Former Jag Posluszny runs Donna 5K
Wondering what former Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny is doing after hanging up the shoulder pads?
Running, without a blocker in sight.
The Jags fan favorite ran the Donna 5K Saturday in a time of 28:29, good for 204th place out of 1,450 overall listed results.
Posluszny, now 34, retired after the 2017 season to end his 11-year NFL career, the last seven of those years with the Jaguars.
Burget repeats ultramarathon title
Going by the numbers, Marc Burget doesn’t believe in fatigue.
How else to explain his repeat title in the Ultra 110, the draining competition that stretches over the better part of two days?
After running more than 80 miles yesterday in the opening of the ultramarathon, he returned go the road Sunday for the final 26.2-mile leg. His time — 2:59:18 — didn’t just wrap up a second consecutive title in the race, but would have placed fourth in the regular marathon.
Around the race
Providence freshman Steven Cartwright, 14, won Saturday’s Donna 5K race with a time of 16:39. Longtime Beaches runner Carley Glasser captured the women’s race in 18:51. … The move to a centralized start and finish at Atlantic and Neptune Beach paid off in participation numbers. In all, 741 runners were listed as marathon finishers, while 3,286 finished the half marathon, representing gains of about 3 percent and 21 percent, respectively. … Using more than $175,000 from the Donna Foundation, the Mayo Clinic recently acquired NanoString Digital Spatial Profiling equipment, a new and highly specialized technological system designed to identify immune cells within a tumor to better target immunotherapy procedures. The new equipment is one of only four such systems in the world, three of them in the United States. … Jacksonville Armada head coach Aaron Pitchkolan placed 11th in the men’s half marathon (1:24:20), shaving nearly a minute off his 2018 time. … American distance legend Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic women’s marathon champion, placed ninth in the women’s half marathon (1:31:31) at age 61. … More than 300 participants from the Marathon High youth distance program, as well as about 100 volunteer coaches, raced in the half marathon. … The Neptune Beach Police Department presented the Donna Foundation with a check for $2,060 before the race, raised through the sales of commemorative pink badges.