Mark Priddy took over the duties of President of Gulf Winds Track Club on January 1. 2021 after winning an election. GWTC has not escaped the challenges of 2020. Mark has done just about every job possible for GWTC and is ready to lead the club in 2021.
These are interesting times, especially for GWTC a club that typically puts on 30 races and many more running related events. Of course, COVID-19 is at the top of the list. How has GWTC been affected by this virus?
Well, almost all running events were shut down. Our running group programs and youth running programs were not available. Our Springtime 10k/5k/1M races at the last minute, had to make the decision to go virtual. Shirts and medals had already been purchased but large gatherings of people were prohibited. The Palace Saloon 5k was postponed until fall, then postponed again until this spring. The Turkey Trot moved to a virtual race and had a respectable turnout. These three events alone typically have a combined 8,000 runners, and when you add in all our other events, including many of the 2021 spring events which have to limit registrations, then you can see the impact on the club and our charity partners. Remember, GWTC races donate half of the race proceeds to charity, so our community partners were also affected.
What are you expecting in 2021?
We want to restart some of our running and training programs along with our youth running programs. We are cautious, but optimistic. Fortunately, some of our early annual events are already scheduled to take place. As a cautionary measure, we are limiting the number of participants in our events. The club has implemented a very strict health screening, along with distancing requirements for those who participate. Large gatherings at the finish are prohibited. I understand that some people are not yet comfortable being in public. I think we must, however, make the effort to offer safe, outdoor activities to those who want to participate.
How long have you been a member of GWTC? What other duties, other than President have you assumed over the years?
I have been a club member for over 25 years. I have served on the board of directors both as an elected and appointed official, including vice president, and have served on most of the club’s committees. I am a race director and have been club membership director for 11 years.
What made you decide to run for President?
My other leadership roles within the track club prepared me to solve problems. Most of those problems were outside our control (COVID-19), but I think this club can add a lot more members and events this year if we can corral this virus. There is a pent-up demand for more outdoor activities, and I want to help the club give those people that opportunity to get out, get their exercise routines back, and move forward with their lives.
What are your top goals for the coming year?
Get back to running and racing on actual race courses, tracks, and trails.
Be better at what we do so the Tallahassee community will have confidence that we will safely return to our events.
Utilize our Diversity Committee and funds to reach out to underserved athletes.
Contribute financially to our non-profit community partners.