Team competition heats up as Fish Day benefit for Portal tops 1,100 entrant
Sweltering summer heat didnât prevent the 25th annual Fish Day Run/Walk from attracting a record crowd last Saturday in Port Washington.
The field of 1,108 runners and walkers included more than a dozen teams, whose run-with-the-pack approach reflects an increasingly popular trend in road racing.
For the most competitive teams, the focus was on the traditional 8-kilometer race, which was won by Andy Ashenden of Grafton.
Running as a member of the Falcon Fast team in the menâs field, Ashenden broke the tape in 25 minutes, 43 seconds. Placing second was Garick Hill of Wauwatosa in 27:19.
Leading the womenâs field was Holly Ochs of Milwaukee, who finished in 30:49.
Kaitlyn Verfuerth of Port Washington won the 8K wheelchair title in 27:46.
Falcon Fast took top honors in the team competition, which was based on the cumulative time of each squadâs five fastest runners. The team, which included students from Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, finished in 2:23:40.
Besides Ashenden, the team included Benjamin Pape, Danny Fecht, Kevin Gries and Daniel Kleinowski.
Falcon Fastâs victory snapped a streak of four straight Fish Day team titles for TROP, a Port Washington-based contingent. Taking second in this yearâs team competition was Instep in 2:24:42.
Headed by former Port High School standouts Jack Hackett, Evan Ross and Mark Allen, TROP finished third in 2:30:38. The team also included Port High cross-country and track coach Mark Pasten.
Although bragging rights eluded TROP this year, team members kept a firm grip on other priorities â camaraderie and shared pursuit of their favorite sport in a festive setting.
âItâs a challenging course, especially for the first mile, but the main reason we get together is to be with our friends and have fun,â said Hackett, who will be a junior this fall at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he runs on the track and cross-country teams.
âWe donât have a lot of strategy for running it because weâre not together that often. Everybody just goes out and runs their fastest.â
The pack mentality of TROP (PORT spelled backwards) isnât exclusionary, either. Although the team has 10 members, their group was joined by another 10 runners from throughout the Midwest, most of whom have excelled in college programs.
Proceeds from the Fish Day Walk/Run benefit Portal Industries, a nonprofit rehabilitation agency that serves adults with disabilities who live in Ozaukee County.
In addition to the 8K run, the event includes a 2-mile fun run and 2-mile walk.
The fun run was won by Dustin Dietz of Sheboygan in 11:58. The womenâs top finisher was Sue Miller of West Bend in 12:18. Both successfully defended their titles in the race.
Marlene Morgan, Portalâs development coordinator who oversees the walk/run, said this yearâs event had more than 760 advanced registrations and nearly 350 participants who signed up Saturday.
The field included runners and walkers from 20 states as well as one from the Czech Republic, she said.
âIt was a tremendous turnout,â she said. âWe blew away last yearâs record attendance of 940.â
The event is expected to raise more than $20,000 for Portal after expenses, Morgan said.
A RECORD 1,108 entrants took to the streets of Port Washington for the 25th annual Fish Day Run/Walk last Saturday. Below Middle, Andy Ashenden. Below bottom,Â Holly Ochs. Photos by Sam Arendt