BRADENTON -- Approximately 50 children lined up on a starting line on Old Main Street on Saturday afternoon and sprinted about 60 yards to the very official-looking finish line at the corner of Third Avenue West and Old Main.
When it was over, Anthony Monetti of Holmes Beach was declared by race officials "Manatee County's Fastest Kid," a laurel set upon his 9-year-old shoulders after he came in first in the overall sprint and first in the age 7-9 bracket during the second annual Kids Leprechaun Races.
To top off his day, Anthony also finished second in the age 9 and under class of the Shamrock 5K, clocking 30 minutes, 59 seconds.
The kids races were part of the festive St. Patrick's Day downtown Bradenton celebration that includes the Shamrock 5K and a post-race party Pub Crawl.
All the events, which were smoothly directed by Fit2Run -- The Runner's Superstore, 8249 Cooper Creek Blvd. in University Park, supported Foundation for Dreams and Women's Resource Center.
When asked what was his secret for being so fast, Anthony, a student in Dr. Laura Redeker's third-grade class at Anna Maria Elementary, said, "My mom is Brazilian and my dad is half-Italian."
Who knew that those exact DNA combinations yield sprint success?
But it is true that Anthony's dad, John Monetti, darts around as the general manager of the Columbia Restaurant on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota and his stay-home mother, Rejane, is like a spinning dervish at their house, said family friend Jayne Christenson.
Christen's son, Evan, is Anthony's best friend and schoolmate and finished fourth in the age 7-9 bracket Leprechaun Races.
Anthony said his diet for speed includes broccoli and hot dogs, and before Saturday's race he did a carb load up using Rice Krispies treats.
Two girls knock off boys in races in their age bracket
Alexis Hutter, 4, and Lana Grunlund, 10, both sponsored by Manatee Veterinary Clinic, 3607 Manatee Ave. W., and its vet, Dr. David Doyens, were both as fast as whippets Saturday.
Alexis, running in a little green leprechaun hat, beat a group of boys in the age 3-4 Leprechaun Race class. Lana, who attends Jessie P. Miller Elementary School, also blew by a group of boys in the age 10-12 Leprechaun Race class.
"We run together," said Alexis' mom, Tracy Hutter, explaining her daughter's speed. Tracy Hutter is a vet tech at Manatee Veterinary Clinic.
"It's mind over matter," Victoria Grunlund, Dr. David Doyens' wife, said of why Lana won her bracket over boys Saturday. "She excels at everything she does."
Son of Freedom educator wins Leprechaun race
Caden Campbell , 6, whose mom is Laura Campbell, the assistant principal at Freedom Elementary School, looked like a stallion as he galloped across the finish line in the age 5-6 Leprechaun class.
"He plays baseball and soccer," Laura Campbell said, regarding her son's swiftness. "Caden came today to support Foundation for Dreams."
Sanchez, Neal top Shamrock 5K male, female finishers
Marcel Sanchez was the overall and top male finisher in the Shamrock 5K, turning in a 17-minute, 42-second performance.
Anna Neal of Palmetto was the fastest woman in 19:52.
As the day wore on, the crowd swelled into the thousands, including many out-of-towners.
Kaylan Brugh and her friend, Jamilyn Ellis, traveled from St. Petersburg so their children, Trevor Oakman, 10, and Aubrey Brugh, 5, and Courtney Ellis, 8, and Peyton Ellis, 5, could race.
"We saw the race listed on the national website active.com," Jamilyn Ellis said.
Ashley Brown, Executive Director of the Women's Resource Center, and Elena Cassella, Director of Development for Foundation for Dreams, both said they were thrilled with the turnout.
"We raised $30,000 last year, and our goal this year is to meet or beat that," Brown said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.