Wesley Chapel Rotary’s ‘Honest Abe’ 5K

Honesty is a virtue, and, honestly, is there a better way to spend a Saturday than being outside and helping to raise money for a good cause by running a 5K?

The Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel Noon didn’t think so when they put on the third annual “Honest Abe” 5K on February 16 to benefit the Boy Scouts of America. Also sponsored by St. Leo University, just outside of nearby Dade City, the 3.1-mile run began at 8 a.m. in front of American Consulting Engineers, located on Cypress Ridge Blvd.. (near I-75 and S.R. 56), and attracted more than 60 runners. We had no word at our press time about how much money was raised to benefit the Boy Scouts.

However, there only could be one winner, and Mattera Tyler crossed the finish line first, clocking a speedy 16:24 for the 5K distance.


‘Wishes For Wharton’ 5K

That same day, runners who needed a little inspiration, despite the nice weather, to get out and run were able to meet one of the world’s fastest men — a former Olympic gold medalist — who served as the official starter of another local 5K race?

Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion in the 100 meters — and bronze medalist in 2012 — appeared at the “Wishes for Wharton” 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, an annual event also held on Feb. 16, on Wharton’s campus on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd.) in New Tampa. Gatlin also was promoting his affiliation with Track Nation, whose mission is to “bring the world of track & field together under one common goal that inspires us all to become one voice.”

Net proceeds from this year’s race will again be given to “Wishes for Wharton,” which provides the school’s teachers with grants to spend on various classroom materials and resources. Wharton principal Brad Woods estimates that this year’s nearly 150 runners and the race’s sponsors helped the event raise “between $4,000-$5,000 this year.”

Congratulations go out to Wharton track & cross country runners McKenna Graves — who was the overall race winner in a time of 17:50, 28 seconds better than his personal best — and women’s winner Mariah Henderson (20:31).

Graves said after that he, “really liked meeting Justin Gatlin and what he said about ‘going for it’ in whatever we do.”

Gatlin, who turned 31 less than a week before the Wharton race, says he is hoping to get a chance to compete for his second 100m gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After running 9.79 — the fastest 100 time ever by anyone over age 30, at the 2012 Games in London — and finishing an eyelash behind Jamaican teammates Usain Bolt (9.63) and Yohan Blake (9.69).

Gatlin said that he plans to run in the world championships in Russia later this year, with an eye towards Rio 2016.

“That’s probably my last real chance to win another Olympic medal,” he said. “That’ll be my last hurrah.” — GN

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