LAKEWOOD RANCH -- When you're a veteran runner like Alex Kreiling, and the watch you've been using as a pacer dies in the middle of a 10K race, you just soldier on.
Considering Alex is just 11, not being fazed by the sudden loss of a key timing mechanism in the 5th Annual Take Stock In Children 10K/5K/FunRun races on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch Sunday is pretty remarkable.
Then again, Alex is a member of The 100-Mile Club, a group of B.D. Gullett Elementary School students who run two times a week before school at in Lakewood Ranch and one day after school.
Alex, who has been running since age 5, along with fellow Gullett fifth-graders and 100-Mile Club members Lucas Hall, 10, and Tanner Toler, 12, ran the Take Stock 10K in roughly 48, 51 and 51 minutes, respectively, as part of an all-time record field of roughly 1,200 competitors Sunday.
More than a dozen 100-Mile Club members competed in Take Stock, said B.D. Gullett physical education teacher and 100-Mile Club director Rob Hetterich .
"The weather was great, I got into my own pace and it was fun," Alex said.
The overall 10K race winner was Bradenton's Canaan Kitterman, 18, who completed the course in 35 minutes, 28 seconds. The top 10K fe
male finisher was Christina Markakis, 29, of Monkton, Md., who ran 43:31.
The overall 5K winner was Bradenton's Gerardo Miron, 18, who ran 18:33. The overall female finisher was Bradenton's Laura Fulk, 43, who ran 21:15.
All proceeds from entrance fees go to Take Stock in Children, a nonprofit organization that helps children achieve success by providing mentoring programs and college scholarships, said race director Bethany Lynch.
"You could feel the energy and support out there today," Lynch said. "It's all about raising money for scholarships."
The Florida Pre-Paid College Foundation matches the money Take Stock raises dollar-for-dollar, thus creating opportunity for young people who have shown a desire and commitment to attend college by maintaining a 2.5 or higher grade-point average and remaining drug- and crime-free.
Lynch estimated Take Stock raised $75,000 Sunday although totals will not be finalized until all expenses have been compiled.
The largest cheer of the day came when Manatee County employee Kim Stroud and her daughter, Mallory, 9, reacted when it was announced Mallory's school, Wakeland Elementary, had the most entrants in the races.
"We battle with other schools to get the most registrations," said Kim Stroud, who confides her mother-daughter relationship with Mallory has been enhanced by running in Mill Creek together, along with their dogs, Chase and Friday.
"This means one of our Wakeland kids will be presented a scholarship," Kim Stroud added.
Hetterich , 56, ran a 41:18 10K Sunday to win the Grand Master Over 50-category.
Hetterich has qualified and intends to compete April 21 in the Boston Marathon.
"The 100-Mile Club is a national organization where students strive to walk or run 100 miles before the end of the school year," Hetterich said. "I had always done a runner's club at Gullett but got a $1,000 grant, which got us started with this special program. They have to run at school. We've had 350 kids come out for the program at different times but 100 to 125 is our normal number."
Ten students, including Lucas, Tanner and Alex, have already logged 100 miles halfway through the school year.
Tanner, Alex and Lucas and the others essentially run a 5K on a quarter-mile course behind the school three times a week at 12125 44th Ave. E. in Lakewood Ranch. Each time they do a lap, an adult volunteer hands them a popsicle stick, which are later counted and the distance logged.
"Rob is so motivating for the boys," said Tanner's mother, Missy Toler, herself a runner and the Gullett school nurse. "Tanner now has a goal, which he never had, to run a half-marathon. He's going to run in Sarasota in two weeks."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.