Cleveland - Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award

By Jeff Bryan

Friends and fellow Gulf Winds Track Club Members, I am honored and humbled to be here this evening to present the 2001 Cleveland-Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award. The Cleveland-Caldwell Award is presented annually by GWTC in recognition of those who make significant contributions to the advancement of the sport, whether through research, education, or some other area of expertise. Some past recipients of this award include none other than Rex Cleveland, Michael Caldwell, Fred Deckert, Gary Droze, Tim Simpkins, Herb Wills, and last year’s winner, David Yon.

Webster’s defines advancement as “promotion or elevation to a higher rank or position” or “progression to a higher stage of development”. These past recipients have accomplished this through many different talents that they have possessed. For example, last year’s winner, is very eloquent with words and is an outstanding writer. This year’s winner is not known for being an eloquent writer but he has shown a limited talent in photography. They always say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, in this year’s winner’s case, he can not only give you the picture, he can also give you the thousand words!!!

This is a running club and therefore most people think that a person’s running accomplishments would be the criteria used to pick someone to win an honor such as this award. Let’s do a quick review of these. Has he set a PR in the 5K this year? How about the 10K? Does he have any running accomplishments this year? No, he has not nor does not. But, he has probably measured the course at least 50 times on which you set your PR. And if you don’t believe me, he has pictures that he has taken for every 5 feet of the course.

In my opinion, this year’s winner thoroughly defines this award. He has been an active member of Gulf Winds Track Club since Moses was President and there doesn’t seem to be an aspect of this club’s history that he doesn’t know about or won’t tell you about. His contributions to the advancement of running in Tallahassee seem to be endless. He demonstrates a true passion and love for the sport and all the while he makes it a fun sport to be around. Some of his contributions include, but are not limited to the following:

· He runs his own web site dedicated to running in Tallahassee. His site includes blackmail, I mean pictures taken during GWTC races and events, trail runs, local high school competitions, maps of local running trails, and flyers of upcoming events, such as the Palace Saloon 5k on April 13th.
· He is actively involved with Tuesday Night Interval Sessions. Somehow he is able to be calling out splits, massaging runners, giving running advice to new runners, taking pictures, and is still able to get in cheap shots at McDermott and me.
· He sends out weekly e-mail messages listing the times and locations of the weekend trail running groups. It seems that he is always available for a trail run if you call him. Does he ever work???
· He has volunteered at numerous County and City workdays to improve local running and biking trails. In fact he has spent more time on these types of community projects than most work-release inmates.
· He serves as a volunteer Assistant Cross Country Coach at Maclay.

These are only some of the ways this year’s winner advances the sport of running, but none define this as well as his work with the high school runners. It is very obvious that he takes great pride in their success and long term health. They seek him out for advice on their running, their nagging injuries, and other questions. He shows great patience addressing their concerns. A lot of the kids have continued to maintain contact with him into their college careers. This alone speaks highly of the place that he holds in their lives. His idea of advancement is not necessarily improving something in its current place but by passing his love and passion for the sport on to the next generation. Running can only move forward and continue to exist as long as there are new people coming into the sport and sticking with it for their lifetimes.

It is truly amazing that these young runners understand him because a lot of the time I don’t. He tends to speak in a language of his own and he lives in a world rivaled only by the imagination of J.R.. Tolkien. His world contains such places named “Red Bug”, “Cadillac”, “Paper Cup”, and “Bob Deak Field”. When he gets going on this subject, you almost need a PH.D. in Geography to keep up with him.

To bring this to a close, I’d like to share one final thought. He likes to tell his “start of the running career” story about harassing the Fat Guy at work about his cigarette-smoking, beer swilling, slow pitch softball playing life. Well, the Fat Guy eventually asked him to step outside and proceeded to smoke him in a sprint. Well, some things never change, because he still harasses beer-swilling softball players. However, this beer swilling, softball player is not going to ask him to step outside. This one’s going to ask him to step up here. Ladies and gentleman, I am proud to present the winner of the 2001 Cleveland-Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award, Mr. John Kalin.