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Islanders running for their neighbors at 5th Annual 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H.

By Staff | Oct 8, 2013

The 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H. is on Oct 19. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Hundreds of runners will circle the streets of Sanibel Island for the annual 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H.

F.I.S.H., or Friends in Service Here, partners with the Fort Myers Track Club each year to organize the 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run from the Sanibel Community House on Periwinkle Way to Casa Ybel Road and back up from Tarpon Bay Road at 7:30 a.m.

John Pryor, vice-president of F.I.S.H., said an average of 395 people complete the 10K each year. He co-chaired the event with Ed Ridlehoover on the FISH 10K Committee.

He explained that the money from the 10K helps F.I.S.H. serve those in need on the island.

“The money we raised for the various events, like the 10K race, go to underwrite our services to our clients,” said Pryor.

In 2012, F.I.S.H. Helped 1,158 people (813 households) on the island with food assistance, transportation to medical-related appointments, and medical equipment loans, to name a few. Pryor said 74,500 pounds of food was distributed from their Food Pantry to 223 needy families last year.

A portion of the funds raised from the 10K go to purchasing nutritional food for children who utilize the Food Pantry or School Backpack Program. Although F.I.S.H. distributes food donated directly from the public, sometimes they have to supplement the pantry by buying food with a higher nutritional value.

The amount of food provided by the F.I.S.H. Food Pantry has swelled in the last four years. In 2008, they distributed only 16,500 pounds of food and the need has grown in each subsequent year. But, as the need has grown, so has participation in the 10K to raise money for the organization.

“We built it up each year with the number of runners, sponsors, and volunteers,” said Pryor, explaining how the first year was a wash out because lightning forced the police to shut it down. “It’s a major effort for us. We have a wonderful committee and we work hard to make it come together.”

On race day, 135 volunteers will clear the path and cheer on the runners, but Pryor said the public shouldn’t expect any road closures or traffic issues. The race officially leaves from the Sanibel Community House, but the start line was moved closer to The Sanibel Bean to provide more time for lead runners to channel over to the bike path.

Many of the runners create teams with friends or co-workers. Todd Hayes, vice president and owner of Sanibel Air and Electric, started a team of 10 people made up of his wife, employees, and friends. His wife is the only member of the team who previously ran the 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H., saying the weather was perfect and it was one of the best runs she ever completed.

“I’ve never run it before and we thought it was for a good cause,” said Hayes. “I’m going to pay for everyone’s entry fee, and it’s a good thing to get together and run a good six miles.”

Hayes said teammates who haven’t run before are preparing for the race by doing Cross Training Boot Camp a couple of days a week, while others have experience in major events like the Galloway Captiva Triathlon and Hooters Half Marathon.

Each of the runners on his team are shooting for 8.5-10 minute miles, which would ensure they finish the 10K right under an hour.

Registration for the race is still open. In fact, Pryor said that approximately 10 percent of the runners register on race day.

Entry forms are available at fortmyerstrackclub.com or fishofsanibel.com. Awards, medallions, t-shirts, and refreshments are provided. This year’s premier sponsor is The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company.