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174 and Counting

Tom Kelly completing this year’s 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H.


For the third time in the 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H.’s history, a change was made to the event’s format.

In 2008, severe thunderstorms forced the cancellation of the first-ever race. Now, for the second continuous year, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the format from an in-person event to a virtual race. The virtual format, however, did not stop many from registering and running on their own time.

Long-time race participant Tom Kelly completed the virtual running of the race in mid-October. This year’s race marked his 174th; in 2020, the F.I.S.H. 10K was his 144th, and in 2018 it was his 100th.

“My 10K went well, it was a beautiful morning and so peaceful. I completed the race with a time of 1:29:52,” he said. “My Boston terrier, Dr. Watson — my pride and joy — brightens every day and is also my loudest cheerleader. It was great to have him and my granddaughter cheering me on.”

His children and grandchildren live close, and he enjoys sharing his race experiences with them.

Kelly began training and racing using a run-walk combination in 2011 as a teammate on a triathlon team, Geared Up, following the loss of his partner of 50 years, Barbara. He said he was lost and in desperate need to find something that would give his life purpose by helping him refocus his energy. Kelly stopped running about three years ago to “save” his knees and hips for tennis, he said. Now, Kelly powerwalks all of his races.

In addition to the F.I.S.H. 10K, he is in the process of completing a challenge for Florida Road Races. The challenge began on Jan. 1 and will end on Dec. 31. Between walking and cycling, Kelly’s goal is to complete 4,100 miles. As of recently, he was on schedule to do so, having reached over 3,000 miles.

“I have been proudly participating in the F.I.S.H. 10K since 2012, and when I race, I prefer choosing one that champions a good cause,” Kelly said. “F.I.S.H. has been supporting the people of Sanibel and Captiva for almost 40 years in various ways, but two programs stand out to me. The backpack program combats childhood hunger by supplying weekend food and snacks to children in need throughout the year. The second one is Smile Boxes because this program that was launched last year combats isolation, particularly among seniors.”

“The motto of F.I.S.H. is ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors,’ and those words say it all,” he added.

Thanks to our friends at the Island Reporter for the delightful article!

2 thoughts on “174 and Counting

  1. We are proud to call Tom not only our fun tennis partner but a friend.
    He is interesting, funny with a great sense of humor and just a real NICE GUY.
    There should be more of the ones like him.

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