A little more than a year ago, Cisco Ferre began long distance running on a mission to improve his fitness for soccer. As fortune would have it, the 16-year-old proved Sunday that his aptitude for goal lines is nothing compared to his tenacity for finish lines.
Running his first 10K race, the Hilton Head Island High School junior posted a time of 34:54 to capture the men's overall division in the 22nd Hargray Hilton Head Island Bridge Run. It was just the second victory for the running novice who is taking full advantage of his unexpected and recently discovered talent for the sport.
"I'm surprised a little bit because I've only ever run in 5Ks competitively," Ferre said following the race, which began and finished at the Crossings Park on Hilton Head and traversed over the Broad Creek Bridge. "But obviously I'm thrilled with the results."
Ferre, who previously won the 5K Duel at the Horn as a member of the Seahawks cross country team, was nearly two minutes better than his closest competitor, John Tolerton of Bluffton. More importantly, the victory is a resume builder for the teenager who hopes to take his budding running career to a college campus in a couple years.
"I realized if I wanted to take the next step and be able to run competitively in college that I needed to begin running in 10K events," said Ferre, who is looking at the College of Charleston among other schools. "I found running by accident and just ended up falling in love with it."
Tolerton's time of 36:30 was good enough for second place overall, followed closely by Bluffton's Jeff Ford, who finished in 36:52.
While youth was served on the men's side, experience won the morning in the women's competition. Twenty-nine-year-old Caitlin Judd captured the women's 10K race with a time of 37:41, which was a personal best and more than three minutes better than anyone else in the female field.
The Charleston resident has been competing for more than eight years, but was making her first-ever run on Hilton Head.
"I've won races in the Charleston area but haven't competed down here," Judd said. "I had a friend running in this race and just decided to come down. I'm glad I did."
Truth be told, Judd had a little extra motivation for taking on the Bridge Run for the first time Sunday. Not only did it make for a great weekend getaway, but the event served as a significant tune up for the Dec. 14 Kiawah Marathon, her fourth start in a 26-mile event.
"I'm looking to break the state record," said Judd, who will need to better a time of two hours and 49 minutes to make that happen. "This was a good race for me and I'm really pleased with my time."
Okatie's Terri-Marie Mahoney finished second with a time of 41:01 and Krista Dunton of Hilton Head Island placed third at 43:52.
In the women's 5K event, it was a runner 19 years Judd's junior who managed to steal the show. Ten-year-old Sarah Cooke won with a time of 21:06, backing up her first-place finish in the 13-under category a year ago.
The Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts student has only been running for a couple years, but if Sunday is any indication the sky is the limit for the talented youngster.
"I just enjoy running a lot and I love the competition," Cooke said. "It's a lot of fun for me."
Cooke wasn't the only youthful star of the women's 5K. Fifteen-year-old Maren Czura of Hilton Head Prep placed second with a time of 22:15, and was followed by 12-year-old islander Courtney Doyle, who crossed in 23:12.
Ironically, the men's 5K run was captured by Irv Batten, who is the friend that coaxed Judd to the island race. The Mount Pleasant resident posted a time of 17:36 that put him just ahead of Bluffton's Wesley Lang who came in at 18:30. Hilton Head's Ben Gilman finished a strong third at 18:39.
In all, 375 runners competed in the annual event, which was run by Bear Foot Sports.