The Rundown
PRA photo
From the Top

PRA President, Laura Harris President


Season's greeting to all my fellow runners! During the hustle and bustle of this time of year, I hope that each of you take a moment to appreciate all those things for which we can be thankful. Personally, I am thankful for the ability to run and to be physically active after going through significant cardiac problems a while back. It was for this reason that I was awarded the Jim Harrington Award by the Pensacola Runners Association in 2011. The Jim Harrington Award is given to a PRA runner, who doesn't not have to be a PRA member, who has used running and physical activity to overcome adversity or to recognize persons who returned to the sport of running after overcoming serious injury or physical illness. We are now taking nominations for this year's Award, which will be handed out at the Pensacola Beach Run after-party on January 12th. Please take a moment to reflect on your own health and also those around you. If you feel you know a good candidate for the Jim Harrington Award, please e-mail me your nomination at by December 31st! Please have a safe and happy holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you all at the Pensacola Beach Half Marathon/10K/5K in January!


Happy running!


Laura Harris 

PRA Cross Country 5k 

Post Report 

Fifty-seven runners completed the 3.1 mile trek thru the cross country trails on the UWF Campus Saturday morning under ideal racing weather.  The course is entirely trails except for the 100 meters at the start and 150 meters thru the finish chute.  The trails offered hairpin turns, steep uphills and twisting downhills in several locations.  The course is not a PR course, but rather a test vs. nature and the others in the event.  This was the fourth year running on the current course, and the course record was set in 2009 by Tallahassee native Jared Black, a former UWF Cross country runner, and current employee at Running Wild.  Black blazed the course in 17:34, which was 2 minutes and 4 seconds ahead of his closest competitor in that year's event.  This year's champion was 17 year old Spencer Simpson, who covered the course in the 19:57.


Meanwhile, Brewton, Alabama native Karisa Nelson set a new course record for a female with a 21:15 time, which was good for 4th overall in the race, and better the previous female best by 54 seconds.  Beatriz Labrada of Sandy Springs, GA set the mark with a 22:09 in 2009.  The 2009 race had the most finishers with 61 completing the course, while the 2010 course was the toughest conditions with high water conditions providing several muddy areas, and a temperature in the low 40's.


The Masters division winners on Saturday were James Dillard of Cantonment in 21:51, while Lisa Fairbanks (24:42) and Andrea Moore (26:08) were the top females.  Fairbanks holds the masters division female record with a 24:27 time recorded in 2011.


The most experienced runners by age this year were 81 year old Al Ambrosi of Pensacola, while Gay Ambrosi (79) was the most experienced female participant.  The youngest runner this year was 12 year old Seth Fell, who impressively finished third overall with a time of 20:28.  Allie Nelson of Brewton, Alabama, was the youngest female at age 13, and she finished second of all the females with an impressive 24:05 performance.  The youngest finisher on record for the course was 6 year old Connor Daland, who recorded a 46:41 time in the 2011 race.


The current course is run on the practice course for the University of West Florida Men's and Women's Cross Country teams.  The UWF athletes prepare the trail, mark the course, and station themselves in the trail for the event.  In 2009, the team, along with the UWF grounds crew, cleared the center trsil of the course, which had been  overgrown with fallen trees from hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The top five times on the course:

Jared Black (2009) 17:34

Nicholas Mascardo (2010) 18:43

Mark Millika (2011) 18:48

Steve Harris (2011) 18:59

Steve Harris (2010) 19:25


Top Five Females Times:

Karisa Nelson (2012) 21:15

Beatriz Labrada (2009) 22:09

Elizabeth Wiese (2009) 22:57

Nina Kamp (2011) 23:22

Monica Malavassi (2011) 23:33


Top Five times Masters Division:

Michael Kohler (2011) 20:02

Benjamin Bogan (2010) 21:10

Bruce Barillas (2011) 21:30

Gary Lambert (2010) 21:33

James Dillard (2012) 21:51


Top Five times Masters Division Female

Lisa Fairbanks (2011) 24:27

Lisa Fairbanks (2010) 24:29

Lisa Fairbanks (2012) 24:42

Andrea Moore (2012) 26:08

Andrea Moore (2011) 26:10

Runner's Profile


by Erika Smith


For Michael Leclair, "running saved my life, both physically and spiritually." Just a few years ago, after retiring from 24 years of naval service here in Pensacola as a Navy Seabee Chief, he found himself "in the ER with high blood pressure, anxiety issues, and way too much extra baggage I was carrying around with me." He credits a Naval Admiral at the hospital who explained to him that he was "too young to die tonight, read me the riot act and told me to lose the weight, get my life in order and run because my life depended on it" as the person who helped him to take his first steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Michael took those words to heart and ran with them, literally.

Fast forward to today. Michael is "off the medicines and off the couch and running like I love it!" In fact, he just completed his first half marathon (the Pensacola half), cherishing every moment of it. He enjoys being active, frequenting our running clubs, and cooking. He has also discovered The End of the Line Caf´┐Ż, a local vegan restaurant, where he can be found savoring a delicious meal and glass of Cabernet.

When he's not running or working out, Michael loves to volunteer his time at Nemours Children's Clinic, a local clinic offering highly specialized pediatric care. He explains that he receives a dose of inspiration every day that he spends with the young patients there. He is also inspired by his volunteer work with the PRA. He enjoys sharing in the excitement of being surrounded by other runners, particularly those who are coming out for their first race. He began working with the PRA after completing a few races and "observing all those runners who give up their own race schedules to help others achieve their PR's and dreams" and deciding that he wanted to give something similar back to our running community. Michael also contributes to our sport through sharing his enthusiasm, which is definitely contagious. Furthermore, he's known for helping others in any way that he can. For example, I observed Michael slow down towards the finish line of the 2012 Membership Run in order to encourage and run in a teenage runner who began dropping back. He can also be found spending as much time as possible with his six month old granddaughter.

Michael is "originally a down-easter from Maine, part Indian and part French Canadian". However, he definitely considers his home to be here in Pensacola and the runners who he has met over the past few years to be new members of his family. 

Board Member Profile -  Lisa Fairbanks

Lisa Fairbanks grew up in "balmy" southern Michigan. She has been running races since freshman year High School in 1975.   Lisa is a graduate of Michigan State University, a Certified Public Accountant, and is a Senior Tax Manager at Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund P.A. . Due her husband Ron's job, she has lived in 8 states and is happy to call the Pensacola area home since 2001.

What running means to you:
As seasoned runner, Lisa has run countless races and running has been huge part of her life. The reasons for running are many including the great people you meet, stress relief, runner's high, competition to push you to run your best, and the fun running with groups such as Captain Fun Runners, McGuire's, and Running Wild. Some favorite local races include the Pensacola Beach Run, McGuire's and the Double Bridge Run. An out of the country race favorite race was the half marathon in Soll Austria this past October with the Captain Fun Runners. Over the years, Lisa has gained much from the sport and, as such, volunteers at races and is the PRA treasurer to give back to the sport.

Outlook on the future:
The plan is to make running a life time sport.   Future races include the Surrey International World Music Half Marathon in British Columbia next September. Possibly a PR is still in the future. (Most people don't know Lisa has never run a marathon.)

May the wind be at your back and the sun on your face. Lisa hopes to see you out running on the roads and wishes you many happy years of running and the priceless things that come with that including friends, fun, and good health.

 Pensacola Beach Run
Half Marathon/5K/10K
January 12, 2013

Looking for the best way to kick off your 2013 running calendar? No better way than the Pensacola Beach Run. This is the original Half Marathon on Pensacola Beach put on by your local Pensacola Runners Association. We are already way ahead of last years registrations for this race so don't wait to register. We will not cut off registration, but we will run out of long sleeve technical shirts, those are guaranteed to the 1st 1000 registered. The expo will be at the Grand Marlin in larger space this year and we have also rented extra tents to make one big area to socialize during the after party and awards ceremony at the Sandshaker. Not feeling up to the Half Marathon challenge? That's okay you can still kick off your running year with our unique pick-your-distance 10k/5k run/walk. Everyone that completes the Half Marathon will receive a one of a kind finishers medal. Make it a vacation or stay-cation weekend, our local Beach hotels are offering some great rates for the runners that weekend. The Holiday Inn Resort has rooms starting as low as $99 and the Hampton at $89. Just ask for the PBR rate when you make your reservation. Register today and we will see you on the Beach in January!





Issue Number 24

December 2012

In This Issue
Runner's Profile
Board Member Bio
Pensacola Beach Half
Select Physical Therapy
Tri Gulf Coast

Mission of the PRA

The Mission of the Pensacola Runners Association is to promote, support and develop running and racing along the northern Gulf Coast. Our objective is to provide information, education, training, social and sporting events for competitive and non- competitive runners and walkers of all ages, races, genders and abilities.

Quick Links

We Want to Publish Your Pictures!

Please send us your photos from running and racing in the area for inclusion in upcoming editions of the Rundown.  Send comments, suggestions or articles to:

Promotional Rates

To have an event promoted in The Rundown, contact us at for our rates.  We can add a link to your on-line registration, a link to your race application download, an article or simply a mention in "Upcoming Races".
Select Physical Therapy Offers FREE Sports Injury Hotline
Melissa McShan


On behalf of the team at Select Physical Therapy, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the PRA members who have given Select the opportunity to provide healthcare and physical therapy services to you this year. I hope the service and care you received was outstanding. We know you have many choices for physical therapy and we appreciate the opportunity to serve you.


I would also like to take this opportunity to give a gift exclusive to all PRA members. Beginning in January 2013, you may call the Select Injury Hotline to schedule an appointment with an athletic trainer FREE OF CHARGE. Don't worry- there is a Select Physical Therapy clinic near you, and our athletic trainers are available to evaluate and discuss your musculoskeletal injuries with you most days of the week. Elite athletes have their own athletic trainers to help them heal from an injury so why shouldn't you???


Please do not hesitate to take advantage of this FREE service- we can work with your schedule to set an appointment time that works for you. A typical injury evaluation only takes about 20 minutes. You won't have to wait in line or pay costly insurance copays or deductibles. We can help you better understand your injury, explain ways to help you heal, and give you tips for treatment at home as well as recommendations for future prevention.


If you would like more information or to set up an appointment please call 850-619-2862. Please leave a detailed message and your call will be returned as soon as possible.


We wish you a happy holiday and wonderful New Year!



Tri Gulf Coast News


Looking Ahead... (by Mindi Straw)


Pursuing multisport events as a hobby (and a lifestyle) is something I have become passionate about over the last couple years, but I started as a "runner." It used to be very easy to "select" which events I would participate in every season: Double Bridge Run, Fiesta Run, McGuire's Prediction Run, Great Pumpkin Run, Bushwacker Run, Seville Wild Turkey Trot, Pensacola Beach Run, etc... Heck, looking at it now, the events "selected" me in that I had no trouble picking an event to participate in as the events are so plentiful and convenient. We Pensacola "runners" truly are blessed. Any given month a runner can simply sign up for an event mid-week and toe the starting line on Saturday morning with the understanding that the end-point would be a great after-party (i.e. keg beer, Bagelheads bagels, fresh fruit) accompanied with accurate (and rapid) results postings and a jovial atmosphere with fellow runners.


With my plunge into the world of multisport I learned that it is not so simple. In fact, some triathletes claim that finding the "perfect" race is nearly as elusive as the next "PR." So many moving parts and variables: Gulf swim, ocean swim, Bay swim, wetsuit legal, long-sleeve wetsuit, sleeveless wettie, hurricane season, windy bike course, huge elevation gain on the bike, location (Pensacola has MANY 5k's but a relative dearth of triathlons so travel is almost assumed), expensive accommodations (yes, triathlons require packet pick-up the day prior to the event), USAT sanctioned (or not), race distance, bike drop-off (yep, we multisporters sometime need to drop off our steeds the day BEFORE the event), and sometimes race entry caps (yes, many triathlons have an entry "cap" and often fill in a matter of minutes). You get the idea? I was so used to simply pay my $20-25, sign a waiver, collect my cotton t-shirt, do a short 1-2 mile warmup, then compete and hope I might be heading home to start on the yardwork with some hardware by mid-day.


As a Pensacola "runner" I have come to find a healthy balance between the roadraces and triathlons -- the roadrace events I enjoy are the Fall/Winter events and this season dovetails nicely into my "multisport" alterego (triathlon season begins in late-March and extends through late-October in NW Florida). So, I find myself taking advantage of the top-notch events we are lucky to have in our area as a means of leading into my upcoming triathlon season. I generally try to select a 13.1 or 26.2 event to target in the Fall/Winter and then leverage the build to that goal race by incorporating the other well-directed local events into my training plan, which is exactly what I am doing for January/February 2013.


That said, as I enjoy my training for my "off-season" roadraces I am already planning which of the many multisport events I will participate in for my 2013 triathlon season. Again, referring to the many variables listed above, this is no small undertaking. I share with you some of the issues to consider in building a triathlon season, but I believe these same points should also be pondered when considering a "roadtrip" to a roadrace (otherwise known as a "destination event").


My checklist of items I click through as I plan my season:


- location and travel -- fly vs. drive vs. Interstate drive vs. backroad drive


- expense -- entry fees, on-line "convenience" fees, fuel, accommodations, gear transport (flying with a bike is NOT cheap)


- density of race schedule -- I like to "reward" myself with one race per month so stringing together events across four consecutive weekends is not my ideal situation


- goal race -- I think doing one "A" race per season is healthy and the other events can be used as training events or dress rehearsals for the "big day"


- calendar conflicts -- KIDS!!! (yes, I actually planned a race while my daughter was at Homecoming and it did not go over well)


- venue/course -- we live at sea-level and we have wind, make sure to consider the "lay of the land" and how to prepare for the event (i.e. I probably would never select Colorado as a location for my "A" race)


- established event vs. first-year event -- this goes hand-in-hand with a safe and secure event, many times a community which is not accustomed to having athletes on the road on a Saturday or Sunday morning will revolt (I have shared the road with 18-wheelers before, not fun)


- friends and training partners -- always a positive to have fellow athletes to travel with, share expenses with, and cheer on somewhere on the race course


- word-of-mouth from other athletes -- honest feedback from fellow athletes and club members can be VERY candid especially when paying $250+ for an event


So, as we near the end of 2012 take a moment to consider some of these points while looking forward to your 2013 season. See you at the races!