30K returns to Natural Bridge RoadBy David Yon, December 15, 2001
A combination of warm weather, a new date, a new location and a Friday night Christmas party led to one of the smallest turnouts ever for this race. Tom Ratliffe (age 53) overcame the warm temperatures to win the 25th annual running of this event. A pack of 10-15 runners crossed the one mile mark in a Sunday morning training run pace of 7:30 before Felton Wright broke from the group and moved the pace down around 7:00. Tom quickly went with him and the two quickly built a lead they would not relinquish. Tom eventually put the hammer down to win in a time of 2:09:43. Like the Ten Mile Challenge the winning time appears to be the slowest in the races history.
Carrie Weyant used a strong finish to capture the women’s title, passing several runners in the last couple miles to claim 5th place overall. Carrie ran 2:22:57. The top ten finishers included – Tom Ratliffe (2:09:43), Felton Wright (2:13:42), Jeff Bowman (2:17:47), David Yon (2:18:54), Carrie Weyant (2:22:57), Robert Crouch (2:23:44), Mike Sims (2:24:41), David Cox (2:25:07), Tony Guillen (2:25:32) and Sam Higdon (2:26:44).
David and Judy Waters directed the race for somewhere around their seventh year. They decided to move the race to a date before the Tallahassee Marathon in hopes that it fit runners training schedules better. The last running of the event was in February of this year. The race also moved from the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge to Natural Bridge Park mostly because of the Wildlife Refuge determination that the event was “not consistent with park usage.” Some things did not change though as there was wonderful chili and other food after the race and the awards were unique lighthouse candles.