2014 Race Director of the YearPresented by Dave Anderson, written by Gary Griffin
Several years ago I had the pleasure of finding myself in the company of our Race Director of the Year at the Mountain Mist 50K up in Huntsville, AL. It wasn’t long after we began running together that day that he shared with me an idea – a vision, if you will – for something that ultimately had, I believe, a significant impact on the Tallahassee- area running community. You see, our Race Director of the Year, opened the eyes of many to the wonders of our amazing trail system.
So, how did he do that? How about with passion and whole-hearted commitment to making this vision a reality?
But let’s talk logistics here, because when I first heard about this “vision” all that I thought about were the obstacles to it becoming a reality. But our Race Director of the Year didn’t think that way. Obstacles were simply barriers to be overcome.
If you are thinking that our Race Director of the Year presided over a single race in the inaugural summer of 2013, you would be short-selling the extent of his vision, for over a 7 week period that year he directed races of 3.5M, 4M, 4.5M and 5.5M on 4 different classic southern trail running courses and as I recall, even threw in a 1M “fun run” or two. These races filled to capacity in short order. Six months later, in January of 2014, he must have figured that the sprint-length distances were not sufficient and welcomed 125 runners, many from out of town, to a marathon, half marathon and 6.5 mile race on the wonderful single-track orange hiking trails of the Phipps property. In those same races last Saturday, I believe that he had runners from 7 states, Canada and the UK. Those races filled to capacity, again, in a matter of weeks of opening for registration. His commitment to quality and running adventure seems to be spreading!
Fast forward to this past summer and again, a full field of 125 registered for the 4-race series in short order, and again, the runners were treated to distances of supposedly (and I will comment more on this in a moment) 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5.5M on such treacherous and glorious trail running venues at Cadillac, Magnolia, Redbug and Swamp Forest Trails.
I think it is appropriate at this time to add an editorial comment on behalf of all of us who have participated in the aforementioned events. Our Race Director of the Year needs a new Garmin. I won’t go into the details except to say that Charn McAllister, who can flat run and won 3 of the 4 series races this past summer, never broke a 7:30 per mile pace and in the 2 so-called marathon distance races, no one has broken 4 hours!
But, these races that our Race Director of the Year put together were never about who won or what pace they ran as much as about showcasing the amazing trail systems that we have in this city that has been called Trailahassee. His focus was about getting people off road, saying, “The fun begins where the pavement ends.”
In seeking to do that, he lured them to our hallowed trails through an amazing array of sponsors, including Trail and Ski, Mountain Hardware, Smartwool and Salomon. (How many races can you go to and be able to run in shoes that you simply turn back in at the end of the race? You could with the Salomon sponsorship that our Race Director of the Year lined up!)
Clearly, our Race Director of the Year had more than a vision of something that might be. He created something in the Summer Trail Series and the Swamp Forest Marathon races that further diversified the community of runners that GWTC strives to reach.
Please join me in congratulating out 2014 Race Director of the Year, Bobby York.