Lined up underneath moss-draped live oaks — just a stone’s throw from the marsh’s edge — runners stretched and set timers ahead of the second annual Sunbury 5K on Saturday morning.
Race co-coordinator Robert Espinoza gave participants the go-ahead. “On your mark,” he said, “get set,” and, suddenly, the sharp blast of an air horn set the race in motion.
Last year, the race drew 150 runners, and this year’s crowd was just as large. Patrick Boyle, an avid runner and Sunbury resident, came up with the idea for the run as a way to give back to two charities he supports.
“I want to thank everyone for showing up,” Boyle said before the race. “All of our registration proceeds are going to go to the Wounded Warriors Project and the American Diabetes Association because we really want to make sure we recognize those two groups and what they do.”
Espinoza, owner of Fleet Feet Savannah, has been organizing 5K runs and other races for the past 25 years.
He said he especially likes coming out to help with the Sunbury event because it offers a fast course and beautiful surroundings.
“We came here last year for the first race and we drove up and thought, ‘Wow, this is a really cool place to be.’ It’s a fast course but you get to go into historic areas and see that and when you are done, you can hang out by the water and it’s just all really nice,” he said.
The course, which starts and ends at the Sunbury Crab Company, winds through historic Fort Morris State Park. As the runners rounded the halfway mark, Fort Morris staffers fired cannon rounds and cheered on the racers.
Espinoza said the fact that the event benefits the Wounded Warriors Project made Fleet Feet’s involvement a no-brainer.
“We support the troops in our store and in Savannah … and we will help with any charity, but when someone says, ‘It’s for the Wounded Warriors,’ or helping the military in any way, Fleet Feet is always there,” Espinoza said.
Boyle said several people took advantage of early online registration, but on-site registrations still need to be tallied before the checks are issued to the Wounded Warriors Project and the American Diabetes Association.
“This is a great turnout … and I want to thank Robert (Espinoza) and everyone here from Fleet Feet Savannah and the Savannah Striders for coming out,” Boyle said. “I also want to thank our presenting sponsor, Merritt & Grinstead, Attorneys at Law, and all the local sponsors that made this possible.”