About 200 runners participated in the fifth annual Sunbury 5K on Saturday.
Participants enjoyed a bright, sunny morning with temperatures in the mid-70s as they ran, walked, pushed strollers and jogged alongside their dogs.
The crowd lined up with the serious runners toward the front of the pack. Soon, the buzzer sounded and everyone took off at their own paces.
While some participants were only halfway through the first 1 ½ miles, Mohamed Sankoh already was headed back to the finish line behind Boyle’s pace bike. Sankoh was the overall winner with a time of 18 minutes, 27 seconds.
The Sierra Leone, West Africa, native said this was his first time running the Sunbury 5K. The U.S. Army soldier, who is stationed at Fort Stewart, heard the race supported the Wounded Warriors project, so he signed up. Despite a strong finish, he said his time was slower than his usual 5K performance.
“The route was a little flat, but I love running on flat surfaces,” he said.
Amy Upshaw was the female-division winner in a time of 23:22.
“I ran it and won it last year, too,” she said, adding if they are still living in Liberty County next year she will try for a three-peat. Her husband is stationed at Fort Stewart.
The complete list of winners will be posted at coastalcourier.com.
The event benefitted the Wounded Warrior Project and the American Diabetes Association. According to event organizer Patrick Boyle, funds still were trickling in, but it appears each charity will receive checks totaling $2,250. The Sunbury 5K now has surpassed $20,000 in donations since its inception.
“We couldn’t do this without all of our sponsors,” Boyle said before the race. “We want to thank Bubba Grinstead and Merritt and Grinstead, Attorneys at Law, for being our presenting sponsors again this year. We definitely couldn’t do it without all of you coming out, and the Crab Company, who let us take over, so thanks to Barney (Maley).”
Kathryn Hoard and her running partner wore matching shirts that read Support our Survivors. Hoard, who is in the Air Force, said the shirt had the names of those she served with in Afghanistan. The front of the shirt had the names of wounded survivors, while the back had the names of those who died in battle. She said she lives in Virginia, but was visiting the area and heard about the event and how it supports the Wounded Warrior Project. She said she immediately signed up, put on her shirt and came out to honor her fellow military comrades.
Tara Maxwell and B.J. Comer wore matching T-shirts bearing the name of a friend who is battling breast cancer.
“So we are running for her,” Comer said.
Both Liberty County residents said it was their first 5K. They said their friend wished them good luck via text.