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In 1974, John F. Scimone founded the Lakeland Runners Club when he helped the Lakeland Parks and Recreation Department hold the Civic Center Runs. The Civic Center Runs were the first organized road races in Lakeland and one of the first in Central Florida.
John F. was born in Medford, MA and ran on the cross-country team at prep school in Cambridge. He ran a 4:52 mile and was captain of his cross country team. In 1966, he brought his family to Lakeland, settling near Dobbins Park where John did his running. He was a mail carrier, and as walking was a big part of his day, he often competed in events as a race walker.
In October 1978, Scimone was diagnosed with cancer, and he died at age 44 in December 1978.
1974 – John Scimone
1975 – John Scimone
1976 – John Scimone
1978 – Norman Strand and Rob Mason
1979 – Rob Mason
1st Civic Center 2.5 and 5 Mile Run.
The Civic Center runs were a Lakeland Parks and Recreation run that started at Lime Street and ran around Lake Hunter.
1st Lake to Lake 10k
There were 315 runners in the first Lake to Lake 10k, held on October 15, 1977. The first race was won by Steve Foster, who then held the American record in the mile, and former Olympian Barry Brown – they finished together in 30:21 (4:53 per mile).
1st Lake Morton 5k (morphed into the Mayfaire 5k in 1980)
1st Lake Paker 20k
1st Saddle Creek 4 mile cross country race
1st One Hour run at Dennison Memorial Stadium
John Scimone worked with Harold Walker of the Athletic Attic to create the Lake to Lake 10k. Even though the Civic Center runs were older, they ended in 19XX making the Lake to Lake 10k the oldest continuous race in Polk County.
The pedestrian path encircling Lake Hollingsworth was completed.
As of January 15, there were 17 paid members of the LRC.
1st Mayfaire 5k
The initial course for the Mayfaire 5k was three loops around Lake Morton at 8:00 AM. There were 64 entries. The winner was Mike Wachholz of Jacksonville, with a time of 14:00. The overall female was Jaci Roberts of Winter Haven with a time of 21:42.
The Mayfaire 5k course is modified to include parts of downtown and Success Ave in addition to Lake Morton.
1st Christina 5k
Track speed workouts were offered at Lakeland Highlands Middle School
1st Last Chance 50-Miler at Lake Hollingsworth
The 50-Miler was a 1.748 mile out and back, followed by 17 full laps of Lake Hollingsworth. It was a runner’s last chance to submit a documented time with entry for the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run.
In the middle of the year, the Lakeland Runners Club became a custody account of the Lakeland Family YMCA and changed its name to Lakeland YMCA Runners Club.
1st Summer Sunrise Watermelon Series
from the race brochure “All three races will be held at Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland. The series will provide runners with incentive to improve and stay motivated during those tough, hot summer months. The entry fee for the series is $8. Each race is $3. Only those who run all three races will be eligible for the series awards to be presented following the August 31 race. This is a no frills race. There will be no T-shirts and no individual race trophies. However, there will be watermelon after each race.”
The Summer Sunrise Watermelon Series expanded to four races. In 2017, the series was shortened to the original three race format.
The 10th and final Last Chance 50-Miler.
At the November meeting, an amendment to our current by-laws was presented that called for the Club to sever ties with the Lakeland Family YMCA effective December 31, 1990. Motion carried by overwhelming majority of the ballot.
It was moved to authorize the club officers to start proceedings to form a new club. Motion carried.
The statement of activity from December 1990 indicates that the club paid $402 for RRCA membership & insurance (134 members).
In February, the LRC requested federal tax-exempt status as a subordinate 501(c)(3) nonprofit and was issued EIN 59-3045942.
In April, a new LRC logo was adopted. The artwork was created by Harry “Preston” Stafford, a runner and art teacher (LHMS & GJHS).
In February, the club filed Articles of Incorporation as a not-for-profit corporation in Florida.
2010 – Bryan Graydon
2011 – Bryan Graydon
2012 – Bryan Graydon
2013 – Bryan Graydon
2014 – Bryan Graydon
2015 – Chuck McDanal
2016 – Gail Hardy
2017 – Gail Hardy
2018 – Gail Hardy
2019 – Sarah Kozul
1st Go Green 5k at Circle B Bar Preserve
3rd and final Go Green 5k.
The LRC offers the first middle school cross country development program and cross country team, the LRC Lightning, competes at meets at Holloway Park and Disney.
33rd and final Christina 5k
1st Double Down 5k at Lake Bonny Park
The Double Down 5k relocates to Peterson Park
3rd and final Double Down 5k
The LRC was host to the Road Runners Club of American annual convention.
The first scholarship was awarded from the proceeds of the Summer Sunrise Watermelon Series.
Holloway Park, a private park with cross-country trails, opened.
The LRC website lakelandrunnersclub.org launched.
Construction of Phase I of the Three Parks Trail connecting Peterson Park, Woodlake Park, and Common Ground Park begins.
Grace Owen was recognized as the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Outstanding Youth Program Director of the Year.
Lakeland receives the RRCA Runner Friendly Community designation.
The LRC logo was refreshed due to the loss of vector (print ready) art.
2020 – Sarah Kozul
2021 – Sarah Kozul
2022 – Michelle Hoffert
2023 – Chris Baker
2024 – Chris Baker
1st Mean & Green 5-mile trail race at Holloway Park
3rd and final Mean & Green trail race at Holloway Park
17th and final Aching Quad Challenge, Four Races in 24 Hours
The club started its 50th year with a Running Festival at George Jenkins High School track. The festival featured a 50-minute run, kids races, a t-rex inflatable costume race, and one-mile time trials.
The club partnered with Bonnet Springs Park to hold the first Bonnet Springs Park 5k benefitting the Carol Jenkins Barnett Endowment for Bonnet Springs Park.
The Bonnet Springs Park 5k expanded to include a kids fun run.
Mayfaire 5k is named a RRCA Florida State Championship Event.
The club renewed its application for the Runner Friendly Community designation for the City of Lakeland. The Lakeland Runners Club, City of Lakeland, Bonnet Springs Park, Galloway Lakeland, Fleet Feet, and Black & Brew Bistro wrote letters of support.
In January, the club released a new logo. Limitations in printability and adaptability across digital platforms prompted the decision to reimagine the logo.
Created in collaboration with the creative team at The Lakelander, the logo is anchored by a forward-facing swan that reminds us to keep moving forward. Swans are the iconic symbol of Lakeland, connecting our logo to our community.
Our club’s five focus areas are represented in the five wing sections:
• Fitness – enrich lives through running events and fellowship
• Community – create a culture where everyone belongs
• Stability – ensure long term success through leadership planning
• Viability – safeguard our financial health
• Relationships – strengthen bonds with community groups and organizations
Our color palette is a vibrant reflection of Lakeland’s many lakes and sunny days.