Another Storey-Beck Ending
Jackson Storey is becoming the James Holzhauer of the Beck 5K Capes & Cakes Run … even as Holzhauer’s run as “Jeopardy!” champion came to an end Monday night after 32 consecutive wins.
Storey won his fourth straight Beck 5K race title Saturday in Palatka, coming across the finish line in 17:10 under conditions that were far better than last year’s unforgiving heat.
While Storey continued his unstoppable run of Beck 5K championships, a new women’s champion was crowned as 28-year-old Anna Elise Wester of Florahome crossed in 19:24, which was fourth overall for the race.
Storey, a St. Johns resident who graduated in 2017 from Creekside High School and is a runner at New York’s Columbia University, said he enjoys making the trip to Palatka for this event in his four years he’s competed in it.
“Downtown Palatka is pretty nice with all those houses in the back that’s shaded and the brick roads back there,” Storey said. “It’s honestly a great race. It’s a lot of fun out here. It was a little hot, but it’s a good environment.”
Normally an 800-meter runner at Columbia, where he said he is deciding on majoring in psychology or economics, Storey said he likes the relaxed atmosphere.
“I just go out and try to hang with the pack,” Storey said. “The object is having fun. I just go out there and if I’m having fun doing it, I’ll race a lot staying relaxed and that’s the secret.”
Storey outlasted the man he beat in last year’s race, Rich Smith of Gainesville. Storey outlasted Smith by 55 seconds last year and improved on that in Saturday’s race, beating Smith by over a minute as the 39-year-old finished in 18:12. Jacksonville teenager Aldren Biala, a former Bishop Snyder High runner, was third overall, coming across in 19:40.
“I went down that back hill and it was a little hot,” Storey said. “It’s in that second mile. I started cruising down the hill, building momentum. You use a little energy going up the hill, but coming back down, you get it back and you start rolling. Thee first mile it was a little there was definitely a wind, but it’s been cooler than it has been the previous years with some cloud cover.”
This was Wester’s first time in the Beck 5K, and like last year’s female winner, Ormond Beach’s Stefanie Braun, Wester also finished fourth overall.
“It was hot and humid, but fortunately, the start was a headwind and after a mile one, it was a tailwind,” Wester said. “It cooled you off, but that last stretch (along the river front) which normally I would have thought would be breezy was muggy by the river. But considering it’s been a heat wave (leading up to the race with temperatures at 100 degrees most of the week), it was pretty good conditions.”
Wester said she got involved after starting a new group in the county called Palatka Running. Five other members of this new group also competed in Saturday’s race with the women’s second-place finisher, Talisa Fletcher, who came in at 21:12 for 10th overall, also a member of the group.
“We meet every Wednesday at Young Outfitters at 5:45 and start our runs at 6 p.m.,” said Wester, who finished April’s Boston Marathon in 2:59:00. “We go two or four miles around the river or up the bridge and it’s very accommodating to walkers and joggers as well as competitive runners. We’d really love to have more people join us. We have about 15-20 people that come regularly or irregularly.
“Our club wanted to make a big showing at this race just to get the name out and the word out,” Wester continued. “We literally started in January. We are now ordering T-shirts and make it a really fun, welcoming, open, large club in Palatka because there hasn’t been anything like that in years. So we’re excited about it. We had four runners come in around 20 minutes.”
Well, close enough – Winston Fletcher, Talisa’s husband, was 12th in 21:22, while John Wisker was behind him in 13th in 21:24. Satsuma’s Kevin Mouyard was 22nd in 24:03, while one other running club member, Dave Smith of Palatka, was 44th in 27:48.
Melody Diehl of High Springs was the third female overall finisher in 23:02.
Overall, 240 finishers came across the line, according to the race’s Website. That was down from 303 who finished the race a year ago.