Annual Gulf Winds Track Club Races
David Yon, revised, in part March 16, 2017
If you have never directed a race, you just might not understand how much work and stress doing so creates. The somewhat nutty folks at GWTC direct a Summer Trail Race Series (4 mostly single track trail races), a Summer Track Series (8 track meets) and an Annual Club Race Series that consists of 16 races or more, including a track mile, a trail marathon, a paved marathon and a 50 Mile race. For the most current details about both GWTC and other race opportunities in the area, visit the GWTC race calendar under the "Races" tab. Just to give you a flavor:
- Swamp Forest Trail Marathon, Half Marathon and 6.5 Mile Run. Date: January 6, 2018. Location: Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, 4000 N. Meridian Rd. The brain child of Bobby York, this event winds through both single-track and multi-use trails in Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, including the Swamp Forest, Coon Bottom, and Oak Hammock Loops. Jim and Kristin Halley studied and then took over the director reigns in 2017 and did a great job.
- Billy Bowlegs 5K. Date: January 14, 2017. Location: FSU/FAMU Engineering Building, Innovation Park. Bill Hillison and Larry Giunipero direct this well-run race to benefit the FSU Faculty and Friends Scholarship Fund. The race became a club race in 2002, but has been around since Leitch Wright and Larry first directed it in 1985. The race that year started and finished near Tully Gym and Mike Long Track. Since 1994, the scholarship program has awarded more than 144 scholarships for students, averaging about $500 per award. The course is virtually traffic free as it winds its way through Innovation Park. It climbs a couple of hills, but nice long downhills give runners a chance to start the year with a good 5K time.
- GWTC 30K-15K. Date: January 20, 2018 Location: Old Centerville Road. Old Centerville Road makes this race a very special event. After 12 years of directing the 30K, race directors Jerry and Jackie McDaniel announced 2016 was to be their last year. Their reign has been superb. Among other great things they moved the race to the red clay hills of Old Centerville Road where it has been a big success. They also added a 15K their second year (2006) in charge. New directors have already stepped up; Zach Deveau and Jillian Heddaeus are preparing for 2017. The race begins in front of the Retreat at Bradley’s Pond which, in exchange for a little rent money, opens its doors for registration, awards, beer, chili and warmth. The hard-packed dirt road is hilly, but a special place to run with spectacular old oaks protecting much of the course. Of course rain falling on that red clay can turn it into a tough mudder course. Once known as the “Ides of March,” the race was first run in March of 1978 under the direction of Tim Simpkins, who also won the inaugural race. The 15K was added in 2006. The race's home was the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge for many years.
- Tallahassee Marathon/Half Marathon. Date: February 4, 2018. Location: Monroe Street, Town Center. 2016 was a year of big changes for the marathon and half. Ely Rosario and Eric Godin did a masterful job directing the 2016 edition of the race. A brand new course fufulled their goal of showing off all of Tallahassee. Jay Silvamima and Nancy Stedmen directed the race for many years and steadily built the Tallahassee Marathon and Half on the concept of running fast on a flat course. But the new course is built on the idea of showing off the community, including its "rolling hills." Regardless of flat or hilly, there is no better marathon experience than a “hometown” marathon, and this one proves the point. The crowds and the exitement in 2016 were great; the half set a record for participation, while the full dropped perhaps because of those hills. 2017 was Ely's solo show as director, although she had a great crew helping. The half grew again, but the full dropped again. The race raised a lot of money - for GWTC and for Hang Tough Foundation. .Ely stepped down as director after 2017 and GWTC has a very experience race committee taking charge with the idea of getting the next director ready. The committee promises you an exciting half and full marathon experience that will start and finish at the same place, but will be much fast. You will want to be a part of it. This race was first run in 1975 in the forest at Natural Bridge Road, and might just be the first “official” GWTC race. Two runners participated that first year - director Andy Burns and winner John Hargreaves. There is more information at http://www.tallahasseemarathon.com/.
- Flash 12K/6K. Date: February 18, 2017. Location: San Marcos de Apalache State Park, St. Marks. Mark Priddy completed his 6th year as director of this event. It has grown steadily since he took over in 2010. Good race directors rely heavily on great people like Keith Rowe to keep things running smoothly. The year before Mark's arrival, over 135 runners finished either the 6K or the 12K. His first year the numbers climbed to 229, crossed the 300 threshold in 2012 and set yet another record in 2014 with 348 (262/86) finishers. Stanley Linton's winning time of 39:39 in 2014 was the 6th fastest time ever run at the Flash. One reason for the growth in the race numbers just might be the great location for the race Mark discovered in 2011. The race start moved to San Marcos de Apalache State Park which lies at the end of the St. Marks Trail near the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers. The course runs through a St. Marks neighborhood before jumping on the St. Marks Rails to Trails path. Post race fun usually includes a gathering for lunch on the water at Riverside Cafe. The Flash 12K race was a Joe Dexter creation in 1989 and he directed every race until Mark took over in 2010; Nadine Dexter was there with Joe every year from 2000 until 2009. The 6K race debut was in 2009.
- Springtime 10K/5K/1M. Date: April 1, 2017. Location: Monroe Street and Jefferson. This is GWTC’s downtown springtime event, and you should never miss it. Sean and Mandy Hudson took over the race in 2014. They studied under the previous directors Judy Alexander and Brian Corbin in 2013 to learn the ins and outs of the event, and it showed as they did a great job in 2014. The hills and the community feeling along the race course in Myers Park will assure that you have wonderful stories to tell about this race. Cascades Park is open and don't be surprised if it becomes a spot for post race fun in 2015. The race was first run in 1976 as a 4 mile race under the direction of Andy Burns, and became a 10K the very next year. Check out the race web page athttp://www.springtime10k.com/.
- Palace Saloon 5K. Date: April 15, 2017. Location: Messer Field (start) to the Palace Saloon. One of GWTC’s first races, the Palace was first run in 1975. It is traditionally one of the fastest 5K fields in town. The 2016 edition will be the State RRCA 5K Championship. Mike Burns has made his mark on the Palace Saloon 5K since taking over as race director in 2013. He finished his third year directing the race in 2015, and for the third year in a row there were more than 1300 finishers, including a record 1389 in 2013. He has created a great buzz and excitement around the race with creative marketing, while protecting the traditions that make the race fun. With a big crowd and a great celebration at the end, this race is a lot of fun – well, other than the uphill near the end. You have to love that long downhill finish though and it's a great way to follow the Springtime 10K. The web page is at http://www.palacesaloon.com/.
- Great Potluck Bash 4-Mile and Open Mike Social. Date: June 2017. Location: Forestmeadows Tennis Facility. GWTC prides itself in supporting youth running, in part, through the Chenoweth Fund. This event, as much social as competitive, serves as a fund-raiser and opportunity to recognize the outstanding high school track-and-field and cross-country athletes in the area with scholarship awards. You cannot wear a watch during this prediction run and you can’t beat the low-country boil and pot luck dinner after the race. The off-road race was first held in 1998 and is under the direction of the Chenoweth Committee: Doug Bell, Myrna Hoover, Mary Register, Toma Wilkerson and David Yon. The trails of the Eleanor Klapps-Phipps park are beautiful and the perfect place to hold this race because in addition the beauty they offer, there are a lot of opportunities to change up a course. The Chenoweth Fund has now awarded more than $121,000 in scholarships to 203 recipients on behalf of GWTC.
- Breakfast on the Track Mile. Date: August 2017. Location: Maclay School Track. Talk about marathons being tough races if you want, but a well-run mile on the track requires as much courage as any other distance. Runners are seeded into 12-14 heats based on their projected finish times. GWTC picked the Wright family to direct this event and Felton, Bonnie and Jamie (until he left for college) put on a great show, including pancakes for breakfast. The first year for this race was 1998 and they have directed every race.
- Miller Landing Madness Date: August 2017. Location: Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. This event, which includes an 8K, a 5K and a 3K, has become the kickoff for the high-school cross-country season and the signal for GWTC members that it’s time to start racing again after a summer hiatus. After a few years on the Miccosukee Greenway (when it was known as the Miccosukee Madness (2004-2007), the race moved to the gorgeous Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park behind Forestmeadows in 2008. The race is a great chance for GWTC members and local high-school runners to mix it up together. Jeanne O'Kon, Tom Perkins and Bill Lott have teamed up as race directors to create a great event that gives you a real taste of Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, including a run through water hazard built for the Red Hills Horse Trials. The race began as a 5 mile event called the Tom Brown Bash in 1977 under the direction of Lee Cohee. (Yes, it ran through Tom Brown Park until 2003.)
- Women’s Distance Festival 5K/1 Mile Date: September 18, 2016. Location: Optimist Park. Lisa Unger is the director of this quality event that celebrates women in sports. The women often outnumber and out run the men in this race through Indian Head Acres. It has a unique twist in that the women start 5 minutes before the men. The 2012 women’s winner ran 17:05.88 for a new course record. Kayleigh Tyerman apparently did not think that was fast enough and in 2013, she ran with the men and smashed the 17:00 mark finishing in 16:51. The race began with Dot Skofronick and Shirley Bull as race directors in 1982.
- Prefontaine 5K. Date: September 24, 2016. Location: Silver Lake Recreation Area.Prefontaine 5K. Like the runner this event is named for, the course is always off road and challenging. The course has traversed a number of different trails through the Apalachicola National Forest around the Silver Lake Recreation Area, but they all seem to find more sand than a runner might like. Dave Rogers birthed this event on September 25, 1976 not long after the legendary Steve Prefontaine died. Dave was known for his colorful race starts (shooting an apple off of Carmen's (his wife) head and one year adding a 20k/10K Midnight Moonlight Run through the forest, marking the trail with candles in bags of sand. Mike Eakin and Jeff Doghtery followed as directors. Jeff Nielsen, Race Director for the last 13 years, always brought his own mark to this race finding an extra log, a bit of sand or a "push up" contest to keep "smiles" on the runners' faces. The race has also became a favorite place for local high-school teams to celebrate cross country running. After Doug Bell was a big help to Jeff in 2013, Jeff turned the event over to Doug in 2014. The result was "terrific."
- Pine Run 20K. Date: October 7, 2017. Location: Tall Timbers Research Station. (13093 Henry Beadel Dr.) Pine Run's "new" home at Tall Timbers Research Station has worked out great! The Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the distinctive, rural landscape of South Georgia and North Florida and its traditional land uses not just in Tall Timbers, but by developing good land conservation practices for all to use. The course through this beautiful property is tough, but beautiful. Gary and Peg Griffin are perfect directors for this race.
- Turkey Trot 1M/15K/10K/5K. Date: Thanksgiving Day. Location: State Office Complex in SouthWood. 2015 was the 40th running of this race. It has been the club’s largest race and has become an essential family meeting place for area runners and walkers on Thanksgiving Day. It has been around since 1976, and race directors David and Mary Jean Yon do their best to give you a caring way to burn calories before Thanksgiving dinner. Almost 6000 runners and walkers broke all attendance records again for Tallahassee racing in 2012. 2009 also saw the introduction of the Turkey Trot Heroes – runners who gave a little extra to the great causes the race supports – and that program took off in 2010 and helped the race set fund raising records for the Boys and Girls Clubs, The Shelter and the Refuge House.
- Tallahassee 10 and 5 Mile Challenge. Date: December 5, 2015. Location: Hawks Rise Elementary School (use parking lot entance off of Meridian Road). Eric and Lisa Johnson closed out their two year tenure as race directors in 2014 as they prepared for the birth of their first child. Reid Vannoy debuted, with much help from wife Linda, as race director of this event in 2010. For safety reasons, he moved the location of the race from Killearn Lakes to Ox Bottom Manor. The start is at Hawks Rise Elementary School, but the new course certainly preserved the "Challenge" in the race with a few hills that will sap runners' stregnth. The 5-mile race gives runners not wanting to go 10 miles an option. Eric and Lisa took over the race when Reid was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that took Reid's life in May of 2013. Vicky and Ana Verano are taking over and already the sister are planning next year's race. The race began as a 20K in 1977 under the direction of Leitch Wright and became a 10-miler in 1988.
- Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic. Date: December 12, 2015. Location: Wakulla Springs State Park. If plans move forward as currently scheduled, 2014 will be the year to say good bye to an old friend. Gary and Peg Griffin have brought their own special love of Ultra events to this Classic which includes both a 50K and a 50 Mile race. The First Family of Ultra Running (Gary has now run more than 100 ultras and Peg has attended almost as many) took over direction of the race in 2006 and have maintained a great experience for participants. Despite the threat of stormy weather the 2013 edition of the Ultra produced 80 finishers (66 in thr 50K and 14 in the 50M). After many years of a slightly longer than 2-mile loop, a new 10K loop course was used in 2012. The course leaves the beautiful grounds of Wakulla Springs State Park and includes a section along Highway 61, The Wakulla Springs Road. 2013 saw the greatest number of finishers in the event's history with a total of 84. And 2014 will mark the end of an era as Gary and Peg turn the event over to Nancy Stedman and Jay Silvanima. The duo has a lot of wonderful Ultra experience and no doubt they will produce a great event. The event was first run in 1980 and was directed by a committee of volunteers. Don’t let the distances scare you; this is a very doable event and a great experience! The web page with more detail is www.tallahasseeultra.com/.
- Tannenbaum 6K. Date: December 19, 2015. Location: Apalachee Regional Park. Herb Wills and Brian Corbin teamed up to create a brand new GWTC race in 2011. This race showcases “one of the finest cross country courses in the Southeast.” GWTC joined forces with Florida State University and Leon County to help plan and create this great venue.
2013 was the 3rd edition of this Race as Herb Wills took sole possession of the title "Race Director." It is an outstanding venue and a great way to wrap up the year's racing effort.