The race kicked off 2021 as normal, albeit with some COVID-19 protocols.
The Andrew Monroe 5K ran for the eighth year on the morning of Jan. 10 on Siesta Beach for one of the first local live races since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Starter Dan Pollock warmed up the chilly morning with good-natured yells as the runners headed out on the beach.
"We're following county guidelines," he reminded. "So stay away from me!"
Of course, COVID-19 necessitated some changes to the race. Organizer Stacey Monroe had to draft a COVID-19 plan, including strategies of social distancing and mask-wearing. This 5K was the big welcome back to Sarasota County racing and opened the Manasota Track Series of races, and 335 runners showed up in total compared to last year's 385.
"It's good for COVID times," Monroe said.
Much of the field was made up of returning runners taking to the hard-packed sand of Siesta Beach. The top male finisher, 20-year-old Connor Wozniak, covered 3.1 miles in 18:03.3, while the top female finisher, 11-year-old Jasmine France, ran a 21:17.9.
The Andrew Monroe 5K is in memory of Monroe's son. An avid soccer player, Andrew died in a car crash in 2011. Stacey Monroe established the race in 2014 and all proceeds go toward a scholarship fund for senior soccer players at Riverview High School, track and JROTC members.
After the race, runners grabbed muffins and waited to hear the official results.