C/G Todd Washington (left) helped cheer on Draft Day Dash runners, including Rich McKay and women's winner Vicki Stum, as they crossed the finish line
Captain Fear or General Manager Rich McKay? Who owns the better combination of speed and endurance? That question has long been the subject of debate for Bay area residents.
On Saturday, April 20, the question was finally answered, as McKay and Captain Fear squared off during Buccaneers 2nd Annual Draft Day Dash sponsored by TECO Energy. In addition to the anticipated Fear-McKay subplot, the Draft Day Dash featured 1,400 other Bay area residents vying for 5K glory.
The race, signaled to a beginning by McKay at 9:00 a.m. outside of Raymond James Stadium, began with a long straightaway down Himes Avenue to Al Lopez Park. At the park, the midway point of the race, the runners were able to grab water from Buccaneers Student Advisory Board members and TECO Energy volunteers.
"The water stop was very important today," said Water Stop Director Alan Singer. "It was really humid and the temperature was probably around 80 degrees. We needed to hydrate about 1,000 people in a three to four minute window. We appreciate all of our volunteers and so do our runners."
At the halfway point, McKay held approximately a two-minute lead over Captain Fear, but the Buccaneers mascot trudged onward.
After hitting the water stop, the racers headed through Al Lopez Park and back towards Himes for the stretch run, with the final sprint leading the racers onto the Raymond James Stadium field and across the 50-yard line.
The first man across the finish line was 23-year-old University of Tampa runner Eric Hall, in a time of 16:04.
"I finished third last year, so this shows that I've improved a lot over the past year," said Hall. "I'm excited that I won and just hope I can do it again next year."
Following Hall across the finish line was the winner of the women's portion, Vicki Stum, who finished in 18:04.
"This is my first Draft Day Dash," said Stum, holding up the blown glass pirate ship she received as a trophy. "I just started running again last May. I ran in college and high school, but before last May I hadn't ran in about nine years. I'm really happy I got to be on the field. It was awesome. I'll definitely run it again next year."
Buccaneer John Howell, who cheered the competitors on as they entered the final stadium stretch run, may run hard on the football field but didn't believe he could compete with Hall and Stum.
"Anything more than a 100 yards and I'm done, " said the second-year safety. "Those are great times. Hat's off to them."
Though Hall and Stum had set the pace, the race within the race was still awaiting an outcome, as neither Captain Fear nor McKay had crossed the finish line.
Then, at the 23-minute mark, McKay ended the suspense. "I wasn't going to lose to Captain Fear, under any circumstances," he said. "If I saw him ahead of me and knew that he was going to beat me, I'd trip him."
McKay didn't have to worry about maiming the mascot, as he easily out-paced the plodding pirate. When asked about his loss to McKay, Captain Fear just shook his head in disbelief.
The race may have been on McKay's mind during the first morning, but after his decisive victory over Captain Fear he turned his focus back to the draft.
"If we were picking in the Top 10 of the first round, I don't know if I'd be here," said the Buccaneers GM. "Last year we were picking in the twenties and this year we're not in it, so it fits in pretty good."
The Draft Day Dash was more than just fun and games, as all of the proceeds went to benefit the Glazer Family Foundation, the Tampa Firefighters Museum, the Gold Shield Foundation and the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association.
Center Todd Washington, who along with Howell cheered the runners on as they crossed the finish line, commented on the race-day festivities. "It was fun," said Washington. "It was good to see the people come out and have a good time, even if it was a lot of running. This is for a good cause and we came out to cheer the runners on."
Howell agreed with Washington's assessment of the morning.
"It was great to see the turnout we had today," said Howell. "A lot of people are excited about the upcoming season. Any time you can have fun and create money for some great charities it's always worthwhile."