Located at the Avenue at Viera, Pizza Gallery & Grill will have pizza, iced tea and water for all attendees.
The top series award – overall champion – goes to Melbourne’s Chris Cacciapaglia. The 24-year-old Florida Tech graduate student and running coach not only kept a field of top competitors at bay throughout the season but also recorded a perfect score in winning all six races he entered.
Cacciapaglia was one of five runners to record a perfect score, the others being Dr. Tina Kraver, 48, of Merritt Island, the Female Masters champion; Shane Streufert, who was third in the overall male category; Abe Oros, 62, of Palm Bay, the male 60-64 champion and David Grant, 68 of Viera, the male 65-69 champion.
Streufert, 42, of Viera, accumulated his perfect score in winning all six races scored in the Masters category but since he competed in overall male the Masters crown went to Joel Fenlason, 40, of Patrick Air Force Base. Fenlason’s season was highlighted by one victory and three third-place finishes.
The overall female laurels went to Kim Hunger, 33, of Palm Bay. The Health First Pharmacist scored 51 points in six events to the 40 of 2014 champion Kaitlin Donner, 25, of Melbourne who won the four races she entered.
Hunger had one victory, a second and four thirds. Melissa Taylor, 37, of Indian Harbour Beach, was third overall with 38 points including two runner-up finishes.
Michael Fisher, 22, of West Melbourne, was second to Cacciapaglia with 34 points including two runner-up finishes.
Cacciapaglia entered the series with no specific goals.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect the first race, I was just going out to run it with some friends to see how it went,” he said. “I found that the races were a great opportunity to meet some awesome people and other runners that were enthusiastic about being active and improving themselves.
“As the season went on I had to accommodate for other races I had planned throughout the year, between triathlons, marathons, and shorter races my approach was really just dependent on how I felt race day. For 2015-2016 I plan to keep training, racing, and having fun while doing so.”
“I actually didn’t even realize that it was possible until Kaitlin Donner texted me before she left for Australia, telling me she wouldn’t be home for the Pirate Plunder and that I would be the first female for the series,” Hunger said. “She had already missed the August run. At that point (in March/April), I was having some difficulty as I recovered from my sinus surgery in January. The breathing is just different and is still taking some getting used to.
“My goal for the season was to run sub 19 again. I hadn’t done it since having (daughter) Aliyah in 2012 and was pretty determined to make it happen. I ran the July 4th race about as expected and then taking Kaitlin’s suggestions on training was able to tie my PR of 18:40 in the August run. Somehow I always manage to PR in August. After that for me, it was just about staying consistent and seeing my son run and complete some of the shorter races.
“I was definitely happy and thankful I was able to run strong in the first half of the season as I had to run the February and April races after sinus surgery and had some frustration due to the recovery longer then I had anticipated.”
“I think having great training partners (Beth Mihlebach and Jess Wiedenbauer), and Kaitlin to help encourage me is what helped me to remain consistent throughout the series,” she said. “These girls really keep me going on my running goals throughout the season. My son, Lucas, also keeps me on my toes because he is expecting me to get an ‘award’ for him at each race.
“Working, parenting, racing, and training can definitely be exhausting. I have a love for training. I usually run, bike, or swim, at 5 a.m. before everyone wakes up and before work. I just don’t have enough energy to do it at the end of the workday. Thankfully I have a very supportive husband who stays with the kids on Sunday mornings so I am able to go run with Beth and Jess instead of running alone. I definitely couldn’t do any of it without my family’s support and encouragement.”
As for 2015-2016 Hunger is keeping her options open.
The I Run for Pizza Football Kickoff 5K follows n Aug. 8, returning to The Avenue at Viera. The Ghostly Gecko 5K is set for Oct. 24 at the Eau Gallie Civic Center in Melbourne.
The Jingle Bell 2 Miler concludes the 2015 portion of the schedule on Dec. 19 at the Satellite Beach Public Library.
The Brevard Zoo Sloth Skeddadle – can a sloth skedaddle? – is set for Feb. 13 at the zoo. It will be followed by the April 9 Pirate Plunder 2 Miler at Meg O’Malley’s in downtown Melbourne. The May 7 Run for the Gecko 5K at Eastern Florida State College’s Melbourne Campus concludes things.
For complete information visit www.runningzone.com/calendar2
For 2014-2015 overall participation in the series’ seven races was up by 300 over 2013-2014 said race director Denise Piercy.
“The series is fun for entire family, great for fast runners and anyone coming out to have fun,” Piercy said. “There are fun themed events (costume contests, holiday themes), and the series is organized well.”
“The biggest change is the medal participants will receive if they finish all seven events,” Piercy said. “Also new is the no shirt option for very affordable pricing.”
As for the overall champions: “Chris is an amazing runner,” Piercy said. “We love having him at our events. Kim is a great runner who always performs well and is very consistent. We are lucky to have her on our team (Team Running Zone).”
Team Running Zone won the series team title outpointing Set Goals Not Limits and Health First.
Indian Harbour Montessori won the school participation award over the Divine Mercy Chargers and Holland Elementary.