Determination - 30K Worth
By David Yon, January 2007
Determination was the watchword for the 2007 GWTC 30K and most of the finishers seemed to have lots of it - enough to dig down and find the strength to finish this tough race and enjoy a great spread that included three kinds of chili. The weather cooperated to bring good road conditions and reasonable temperatures for the second trip down Old Centerville and Sunny Hill Roads, but nobody moved the hills. The hills were there to make sure runners had done the proper training or paid the price for not doing it.
Justin Dickieson was the first to climb the hills and make it back to the start. His time of 2:01:23 is the new course record. Mike Martinez had to use the very last bit of gas in his tank to hold off women's winner Sheryl Rosen for second place overall. While neither knew it at the time, later that night they would be named the 2006 Male and Female Runner of the Year for GWTC. For now, they were about to fight a battle for the ages and GWTC lore. Their finish times were identical - 2:04:21. Mike, who has become known for his "sit and kick strategy" thought he had lost Sheryl "long ago" when he started hearing the faint sound of steps in the background. Soon they grew loader and he could hear someone breathing as well. They were those awful sounds that meant "someone is catching me." Sure enough, Sheryl came rolling by after 17 plus miles of hill pounding running. As the finish line appeared in the distance around the bend Mike dug down and found enough to move past Sheryl. It is the last thing you want to do with 18 miles of running wearing your body and will down. "I don't think I could have done that if I could not have seen the finish chute through the trees", Mike said. Sheryl refused to give in though and every time Mike seemed ready to break her, she reeled him back in. They went down the last stretch stride for stride until Mike took second with a lean at the tape. Sheryl's time is the new women's course record as well.
The 15K was not quite as exciting, but Leon High School proved "home court" has its advantages as Matthew Mizereck and David Twitchell took the top two spots in 58:18 and 58:45. The top woman runner was Anna Busby in 1:13:40.
The 30K is the prettiest course on the GWTC circuit and it might be the toughest (at least right there with Pine Run). I really hope that doesn't scare runners away though, because experiencing it and finishing it have their own special rewards that a flat 5K doesn't provide. It is a "runners" race. The almost traffic free course runs through some of north Florida's prettiest plantation land and remarkable oaks and other vegetation makes the course a real delight. You can always get your "feet wet" with the 15K. It has its share of hills, but it does allow you to avoid the "mad monster" that greets runners right after they turn around at 9.3 mark of the 30K. Jackie and Jerry McDaniel put on a well organized event that is well worth a runner's time and determination.