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Popularity of F.I.S.H. 10K a boon for Sanibel Island

By Staff | Oct 29, 2013

The start line of the F.I.S.H. 10K. PHOTO PROVIDED.

As the popularity of the 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H. grows every year, so do the benefits for Sanibel Island.

On Oct. 19, the Friends In Service Here or F.I.S.H., registered 497 runners from all over the world, an increase from 380 in 2012. The runners completed a 10-kilometer circular route on Periwinkle Way, Casa Ybel Road, and Tarpon Bay Road, starting and finishing at the Sanibel Community House.

John Morse, president of F.I.S.H., said the increase in registration was partly due to more local teams registering staff and families. Some of the local teams included Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, Sanibel Air & Electric, the Sanibel Fire Department, and The Sanibel School.

And, every year, more runners from Florida and beyond are hearing about the race and registering.

“It’s becoming more and more popular every year,” said Morse. “We are very pleased. It was a little warmer and humid than last year, but it’s not raining so it’s still good.”

The 10K is one of the largest fundraising events for F.I.S.H. Last year they helped 1,158 people on the island with food, emergency financial assistance, transportation to medical appointments and even backpacks full of food for school children. Morse estimated that the 10K raised over $40,000 for F.I.S.H.

A majority of the runners were from Southwest Florida, while others who placed within the top 15 came from as far away as Bristol, R.I.; Chalfont, Pa.; and even Romanel-sur-Morges in Switzerland.

Cape Coral resident Oscar Corredor (37:16) and Fort Myers resident Rachel Lee (39:04) had the fastest times out of all the men and women. Sanibel residents Eric Maw (42:03) and Dana Crater (43:47) represented the island in the top 15 list.

Bonita Springs resident Bob Dietz, a stage four cancer survivor, finished the 10K barefoot. He ran 12 races in 12 months after his cancer diagnosis and decided that he wanted to run without shoes, which some runners say is safer for a runner’s feet in the long-term.

“I’ve always been a runner but I came back after that,” he said.

Dietz trained without any shoes for the F.I.S.H. 10K and said he activated muscles he hadn’t normally used.

“You feel a lot different when you run,” he said. “It’s a whole different experience. Took awhile for my muscles to get used to it.”

Local businesses, especially hotels, reported an increase in traffic from the 10K. Bob Kramm, general manager of the Sundial Beach Resort and Spa, said that between the race and a local convention, all of his rooms were sold out. Staff at Sundial even reached out to other hotels on the island to find rooms for visitors but with no luck.

“Other hotels were telling us they were sold out because of the race,” said Kramm.

The 10K was promoted by regional and national organizations drawing people from all over the world who needed a place to sleep, and if they were local runners they booked a room to avoid the early morning traffic onto the island.

“You add all of that up and these races are a lot more beneficial than only for the non-profit,” said Kramm.

The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company was this year’s premiere sponsor and other sponsors set up booths inside the Community House, including Bailey’s General Store which gave out free post-race refreshments. Race organizers also worked with the Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com) to calculate times and logistics.

Some runners weren’t able to stay for the awards ceremony, and can pick up their award at the F.I.S.H. Walk-in Center on 1630-B Periwinkle Way.

For more information on F.I.S.H., visit fishofsanibel.com.