First Race Thru the Forest a Great Success

Monday, Feb 08, 2016

The first annual FAU Pine Jog Wild Orchid 5K Run had over 120 runners taking off through the forest on a cool 70-degree morning.

The trails were cleared by Pine Jog staff and students the week before.

The winner was Justin Longoria, age 30, with a finish time of 19:39. Since this is the first race, that’s the course record!

The top female finisher was Chelsea Gruber, age 23, with a time of 23:15.

The oldest runner was 85-year-old Ken Omer and the youngest was Luca Gray, age 5!

Luca finished the whole race in 37 minutes and 50 seconds! He was 8th in his age group 1-18, out of 11, and finished 72 out of the 127 runners. The kid’s going to be a star!

“We wanted the participants to have a fun time and be safe,” said Ray Coleman, Executive Director of the FAU Pine Jog Environmental Center. “Mission accomplished. Jasmine Coyle and the team did a fantastic job. Lots of happy faces today.”

Rick Stern, owner of Split Second Timing, during the pre-race announcements, encouraged runners to stay on the path through the forest. He said jokingly that there are 140 acres of tropical forest at Pine Jog and he didn’t want to lose anybody.

“This is a fundraiser. Proceeds go toward our Orchid Lab here at the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center and we achieved our goals,” said Jasmine Coyle, Event Director. “This course is one of the only fully cross-country races in the area. It’s challenging and unique and we’re proud to offer it for a good cause.”

Cynthia McIntosh runs a lot of races; but, always on the road, never on trails and she said about the course, “It was beautiful back there, just gorgeous – a great time.”

Some that participated are casual runners but some are serious. Nichole Bechamps and her friend Tara French have set a goal to run 2,016 miles this year. “It was cool to run through a forest instead of a street, a treadmill, or a track,” said Tara. They both are looking forward to coming back next year.

“It was different for me because it was my first trail run,” said Paul Tyson, a serious triathlete and marathoner. “It was another kind of animal for me but it was an outstanding event and when the word gets out it will grow and grow. I’ll be back.”

Meanwhile, 5-year-old Luca finished his first on-camera interview and was relaxing in the glory of completing his first 5K (when he’s 6 he’ll go for 6K). His mom got him the special treat he asked for if he completed the race – a bagel - and she said Luca is going to grow up with this race.

Thanks to Our Sponsors:

• Advocare • Audobon Society • The Boca Raton Orchid Society • Greenspoon Marder Law • Native Plant Society • Sports Authority • Park Avenue BBQ and Grille • Sublime Soil