JACKSONVILLE - Keystone Heights High School’s most prolific track and cross country runner, Enoch Nadler, now 31 years old, returned to his specialty, very fast running, with an astounding and dominating win at the Run for the Pies 5K road race Saturday night in downtown Jacksonville.
“We came here to race each other and run fast and I guess it worked,” said Nadler, who was with Team FTC teammate Eduardo Garcia, a Mandarin High grad. “I am training runners in Gainesville to race again.”
Nadler and Garcia, both graduates and standout runners at the University of Florida, finished first and third in the annual elite 5K race staged by 1st Place Sports of Jacksonville with Nadler winning in 14 minutes, 37 seconds and Garcia in third at 14:54. Ray McCormack, an Atlanta-based runner, took second in 14:47.
Note: The NCAA track 5K championship race was won in 14:35.60 this week in Eugene, OR.
The Pies 5K race featured an Equalizer bonus, $100 above the male and female winner’s earnings of $250, to the first runner across the finish line with the women’s race starting a minute and a half ahead of the men’s race. Nadler chased down women’s champion Stephanie Pezzullo, who won in 17:29, and passed her near the mile to go mark after a final lap surge. Runners ran a four lap figure eight circuit that started at the Jacksonville Landing, looped around the Florida Times Union Center and CSX buildings and finished with a long straightaway finish in front of the Landing.
“We opened with a 4:38 mile and established a lead pack of about five runners and Eduardo and McCormack took the lead at first,” said Nadler. “After the second lap, I think we were near the third place female runner and I decided to take on the chase.”
Nadler separated from the pack with a final mile at 4:37 and stretched his lead on the men while passing Pezzullo on the long straightaway for a minute overall win as the first finisher and Equalizer bonus winner.
“I ran a 4:09 mile two weeks ago in a road mile festival here in Jacksonville,” said Nadler. “That’s about as fast as I ran in college. Things are going well.”
Nadler, an All-Southeastern Conference and NCAA South Regional runner as a Gator, was the team’s cross country captain and still holds top 10 time records at Florida for the 8K (4.97 miles) and steeplechase.
Recently, after a bid for a U.S. Olympic Trials marathon that Nadler ran a 1:03.55 half marathon to qualify, Nadler returned to Gainesville to start a new position as a coach for the newly-formed Team FTC.
“When I left Florida, I raced a bit, but went to Dallas for a career,” said Nadler. “My wife, Angela, and I decided to travel a bit from there around the world because we were young and able to before realizing that we missed home.”
Nadler returned, moved to Gainesville and started training runners at the long-time Florida Track Club team, established in 1965 by Gator head coach Jimmy Carnes and expanded in 1973 with such notables as Frank Shorter, Jeff Galloway, Jack Bacheler all past members.
“I talked with their directors and wanted to train the club members for racing,” said Nadler. “We agreed to partner with them at Team FTC and that become my full-time job.”
With Garcia, an SEC 10K track champion in 2015 with a 29:49.92 time, is now Nadler’s top pupil with an eye on an Olympic marathon bid. Garcia, who hails from the Virgin Islands and is the national record holder at 10K and the first NCAA champion from the tiny country, has high school bests in 2011 at Mandarin High of 4:16.65 for the 1600 and 9:31.86 for the 3200 and was third in the Class 4A cross country state meet with a 15:16.88 split.
Nadler, twice an All-State cross country selection, was fourth in the Class 2A cross country state race in 2004 and had four top five finishes in his career at Keystone Heights before going to Florida. Nadler has bests of 4:09.77 in 2007 for the indoor mile and 14:24.69 for the 5K.
Also in the 19 runner elite men’s race field were Justin Jacobs, an Orange Park High grad, now 34, in 11th in 16:08 and Andrew Miller, a senior at Fleming Island High, in 13th in 16:32.
For the women’s elite race, Svenja Meyer, 27, finished second in 17:33 with Jacksonville’s Julie Stackhouse, 38, third in 17:47.
In the Run for the Pies Open 5K, Orange Park High track standout John Bear, a junior, won the overall title in 17:25 with Orange Park runner Belissa Del Valle, 29, taking the female title in 19:50.