MANATEE -- A record entry field of 2,000 runners in the 2014 Robinson Preserve Twilight 5K helped one woman with cancer have one of the best moments of her life.
Dana Pounds, 41, co-founder of the Bradenton not-for-profit Nature's Academy, which takes school children on science field trips, had been waiting until she was cancer free to run in her first distance race.
But after competing and finishing the Twilight 5K under rain-free, cool skies Friday night, Pounds, who lost a leg to desmoid cancer in 2008 and now has it in her hip, came away with a different perspective.
"The perfect moment to do something in your life is now," Pounds said after briskly walking the course
in 52 minutes. "Don't wait. Go for it."
The Herald profiled Pounds earlier this week and revealed that she was no longer going to wait for her cancer to go away to do the things she wanted to do and that if people just put themselves out there and are not afraid to fall or fail, they have already won.
"I had a woman come up to me and said that she was 63 and had never been in a race, and I had inspired her to do the Robinson 5K," Pounds said. "We shared a great hug."
Pounds said her stump was sore after the walk, but she never got tired.
"The Pointer Sisters song, 'I'm So Excited,' kept going through my head as I was competing," Pounds said.
"I'm euphoric. After marrying my husband, Jim, and starting Nature's Academy, this is the best moment of my life."
Bill Robinson -- who, in the mid-2000s donated 500 acres from his 700-acre tree farm surrounding the western tip of 17th Avenue Northwest to Manatee County for the purpose of creating Robinson Preserve -- after the race donated $1,000 from his business, Fit2Run, The Runner's Superstore, to Pounds' Nature Academy.
"Dana's story inspires us," Robinson said.
Following the race, the competitors got to partake of a feast of penne pasta, turkey meatballs, roasted veggies, salad, homemade rolls and Grandma's goodie cookies, all prepared by the executive chefs Joe Stoddard and David Meador of Meals on Wheels Plus, this year's 5K beneficiary charity.
But before they could eat, the runners all had to do the course, and John Mott, 27, of Babson Park, did that swiftest of all, turning in a blazing 15-minute, 33-second performance on the Preserve's nature-filled, hard-packed shell surface to earn top overall finisher.
The second-place finisher, Ryan Stafford, 21, of Fort Myers, was almost a minute behind Mott, coming in at 16:30.
The first local finisher was Marcel Sanchez, 15, of Bradenton, who came in seventh, clocking 17:53.
The first female to cross the finish line was Kristen Tenaglia, 29, of Seminole, coming in eighth place in 17:54.
The first local female to finish was Jennifer Black, 22, of Bradenton, who came in 31st in 20:39.
Sanchez was the youngest runner to get under 22 minutes, but Parrish's Adam Lester, 17, was among top 50, coming in 43rd at 21:34.
The oldest local finisher among the top 50 was 51-year-old Tom Eisenhauer of Ellenton, who came in 23rd at 20:09. Froylan Miron of Bradenton, 47, came in 20th, clocking 19:47.
Pounds wasn't the only person doing their first race and inspired by music.
Cheryl Berger of Lakewood Ranch had her iPod filled with Neil Sedaka, Frankie Valli and Elvis for her first race.
"I have always wanted to do this, and I decided two weeks ago to go for it," said Berger, who walked a bit and jogged a bit.
The Twilight 5K is a family event and hundreds of children participated.
In fact, many children ran in the kid's race and then 5K along with their parents as was the case with Veronik and Rafael Garofalo and their jet fast daughters, Lalita, who will be 11 on Tuesday and Lakshmi, 7.
Lalita was the to finishing girl in her age group and Lakshmi finished second in her age group.
"This is a family tradition for us," Veroni Garofalo said. "We love it. We all have a good time in a beautiful location. It's wonderful."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.