John Scimone founded the Lakeland Runners Club in 1974. He was an avid walker, like his dad, Chico, from Taormina, Sicily. Born in Medford, Mass. in 1935, John moved his family from Mobile, Ala. to Lakeland in 1967. He was a postman and got plenty of walking in on the job.

In November ’74, he measured the course and helped the Lakeland Recreation Department put on the first Civic Center Runs, a 2.5 and 5 miler. They were the first organized road races in Lakeland in recent history and one of the first races in all of Central Florida. From the beginning, John included a competitive walk event with the races and he participated in them with great vigor.

The start of the LRC is charted from that first Civic Center Race. Scimone was also responsible for the Lake Parker 20K, the Saddle Creek Park 4 mile, the Joker Marchant Stadium 4 mile (later named the Flag Day 4 mile), the Denison Stadium 1-hour run, the Lakeland High 10K, and, along with Harold Walker from the old Athletic Attic store and the former Lakeland Mall on Memorial Blvd., the Lake to Lake 10K. John was also a board member of the Polk County Youth Soccer League and he coached the Celtics Youth Soccer Team.

Scimone’s leadership of LRC ended in 1978, due to failing health, and he passed away a year later at the young age of 44.


LRC Past Presidents:

Lakeland Family YMCA Runners Club

John Scimone – 1974-1978

Rob Mason – 1979- 1987

Bob English – 1988

Don Roberts – 1989

Rich Mistretta – 1990

Lakeland Runners Club

Rich Mistretta – 1991

Bob Trimble – 1992

Dan Windley – 1993

Dianna Campbell – 1994


Bob English –1996

Lakeland Runners Club, Inc.

Richard Brown – 1997

Bob English 1998- 1999

Richard Fansler 2000

Matt Werd – 2001

Nick Sudzina – 2002


Bill Walsh – 2004

Sue Abrahsom – 2005 (a few months – transferred out of state)

Louis Irwin – 2005 -2007

Steven (Hank) Hankins – 2008

Rob Mason – 2009

Bryan Graydon – 2010-2014

Chuck McDanal – 2015

Gail Hardy – 2016-2018

Sarah Kozul – 2019