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Annual Gulf Winds Track Club Races

David Yon, revised, in part September 19, 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:

  • 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 decided to pass the baton after 2016. 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 in 2006. New directors, Zach Deveau and Jillian Heddaeus, put on a flawless performance in 2017 and are preparing for 2018. 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 race. 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 experienced race committee taking charge. The committee promises you an exciting half and full marathon experience that will start and finish at the same place, but will be more scenic and much faster. 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 17, 2018. Location: San Marcos de Apalache State Park, St. Marks. After seven years as director, Mark Priddy is turning the job over to Keith Rowe. It has grown steadily since he took over as director in 2010, and Keith has been a big factor in making the event such a big success. In 2011, the race start moved to San Marcos de Apalache State Park, located at the end of the St. Marks Trail near the confluence of the 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 same year the 6K race made its debut..
  • Springtime 10K/5K/1M. Date: April 7, 2018. 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 from 2014 - 2016. 2017 was another transition year as the Hudsons passed the responsibility to the Scharlepps, Rhys, Rachel and Zack (also club president). They more than met the challenge in their debut and many more good things will follow. 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. The post-race party gives everyone a chance to say hello to folks they have not seen since Springtime 2017. The race was first run in 1976 as a 4-mile race under the direction of Andy Burns, and became a 10K race the very next year. The 5K was added in 2008. Check out the race web page at http://www.springtime10k.com/.
  • Palace Saloon 5K. Date: April 21, 2018. Location: Messer Field (start) to the Palace Saloon. One of GWTC's first races, the Palace Saloon 5K was first run in 1975 and has kept a reputation of a fast and fun event. The 2018 race will be under the direction of Mark Priddy, who has a lot of good experience directing the Flash. Of course this year, the final stats showed 1043 finishers including top finisher Stan Linton in a time of 15:16 (fastest time since 1994) and top female finisher, 12 year old Ani Veltcheva winning her second Palace title, this time in 17:58. The Palace Saloon 5K is traditionally one of the fastest 5K fields in town. The 2016 edition was the State RRCA 5K Championship. Mike Burns made his mark on the Palace Saloon 5K after taking over as race director in 2013. The race exceeded 1300 finishers his first three years, including a record 1389 in 2013, before dipping to just over 1000 last year. With a big crowd and a great celebration at the end, this race is a lot of fun – well, other than the uphill from just past the 2-mile mark to 2.5 miles or so. You have to love that long downhill finish though and it's a great way to follow the Springtime 10K.
  • Great Potluck Bash 4-Mile and Open Mike Social. Date: June 2, 2018. Location: Forest Meadows Park & Athletic Center. GWTC prides itself in supporting youth running through the Chenoweth Endowment Fund and many other ways. This event, as much social as competitive, serves as a fund-raiser and an 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 Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park are beautiful, and the perfect place to hold this race because in addition to the beauty they offer, there are a lot of opportunities to change up a course. The Chenoweth Endowment Fund has now awarded more than $121,000 in scholarships to 203 recipients on behalf of GWTC.
  • Breakfast on the Track Mile. Date: August 18, 2018. 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 distance. Still, even this is fun. Runners are seeded into 12-14 heats based on their projected finish times. Felton, Bonnie and Jamie Wright have put on a great show each year as race directors, including serving pancakes for breakfast. The first year for this race was 1998 (Jamie was 4) and the Wrights have directed every race.
  • Miller Landing Madness Date: August 25, 2018Location: 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 (2004-2007), when it was known as the Miccosukee Madness, the race moved to the gorgeous Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park behind Forest Meadows 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 a 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.)
  • Run for Sickle Cell 6K & Tim Simpkins 1 Mile Date: September 2018. Location: Jake Gaither Community Center. In 2017, GWTC and the Sickle Cell Foundation decided to join forces and take the Sickle Cell 5K and Tim Simpson 1 mile run to a new level.  For one thing, the course is very fast and provides participants with a great chance to run personal bests.  The volunteers have historically been great.  So, the new partnership rattled the planet in 2017 and Hurricane Irma was sent to see what was going on.   Fortunately, she got a good enough view from far away to spare the city, but she was close enough to keep some folks away on race day. The Sickle Cell 5K has been around for more than 35 years and most of us have some great memories of running through the Jake Gaither neighborhood, but its best days await in the future.  Jeff Rollins, Paul Guyas, Velma Stevens and David Yon worked to lay the foundation to make those days happen.  Proceeds from the race go to help families dealing with Sickle Cell Anemia. In 2018, the race will be on the GWTC Grand Prix circuit and hopefully hurricane-free. 
  • Prefontaine 5K. Date: September 22, 2018LocationSilver Lake Recreation Area. Doug Bell will direct this race for the 4th time this year. 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 would like. Dave Rogers birthed this event on September 25, 1976, shortly 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 Doherty followed as directors. Jeff Nielsen, Race Director for 13 years, always brought his own mark to this race by finding an extra loga bit of sand or a "push up" contest to keep "smiles" on the runners' faces. The race has also become a favorite venue 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 him in 2014. The result was "terrific."
  • Women’s Distance Festival 5K/1 Mile Date: September 23, 2017Location: Optimist Park 1800 E Indian Head Drive. 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 (the women’s 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.
  • Pine Run 20K. Date: October 6, 2018Location: 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/5KDate: Thanksgiving DayLocation: State Office Complex in SouthWood.
  • 2016 was the 41th running of this race and had the largest number of finishers, with more than 6000 crossing a finish line. It is GWTC’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. 2009 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 to help the race set fund raising records for the Boys and Girls Clubs, The Shelter and the Refuge House.
  • Tallahassee 10 and 5 Mile ChallengeDate: December 2, 2017. Location: Hawks Rise Elementary School (use parking lot entrance off of Meridian Road).  For many years this race was an annual event in Killearn Lakes on a tough out and back route along Deer Lake. For safety reasons, Reid Vannoy moved the race from Killearn Lakes to Ox Bottom Manor. The start is at Hawks Rise Elementary School, but the current course certainly preserved the "Challenge" in the race with a few hills that will sap runners' strength. The 5-mile race gives runners not wanting to go 10 miles an option. Vicky Verano and Ana Sutherland have a couple of years under their belts as race directors and are doing an excellent job. The race began as a 20K in 1977 under the direction of Leitch Wright and became a 10-mile run in 1988. The 5 mile event was added in 2004.
  • Tallahassee Ultra Distance ClassicDateDecember 9, 2017. Location: Wakulla Springs State Park. 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. In 2014, Nancy Stedman and Jay Silvanima took over as directors of this 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 16, 2017. 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" in 2013.  It is an outstanding venue for racing and a great way to wrap up the year's racing.