A Gathering – The Run to Posey’s
It is difficult to characterize The Run to Posey’s which occurs each Christmas Eve. The route, the St. Marks Trail, effectively serves as a meeting place for runners to celebrate the holiday season with laughter and conversation. The event has some trappings of organization, but not many and it certainly is not a race. Races have clearly defined starting points and distances; this event has neither as participants pick starting points and times that fit their own Christmas Eve goals. There is a general idea that the “main” start is at 8:00 a.m. at the St. Marks Trail head near the corner of Woodville Highway (South Monroe) and Capital Circle and that the goal is to run the 15.6 miles of the St. Marks Trail that take runners to the town of St. Marks and the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers. But rest assured, runners will start before and after that time and from locations all along the trail. Nevertheless, like the migration of wildebeest in the Serengeti, they all make their way to the watering hole at the end. For many years, Posey’s was the stopping place, but since hurricane Dennis’s tidal surge closed Posey’s doors, the Riverside Café has taken its place.
As best as I can tell the railroad tracks connecting Tallahassee and St. Marks were built in the mid 1830’s. Around 1983 the Seaboard Railway filed to have the tracks designated as “abandoned” and in 1984 the Florida Department of Transportation bought the right of way making a future linear park between Tallahassee and St. Marks possible. The first tale of this run I could find came from GWTC member Tony Kronenburg who gives the following account of what he believed to be the “first” Run to Posey’s on Christmas Eve morning 1980.
As Christmas approached with no family to visit and no one to spend the holiday with I decided to run to St. Marks via the rail line to St. Marks on Christmas Eve day. As a long time railroad fan I recognized that yet another rail line was headed for extinction. I also enjoyed the countryside, and wanted to do something that would be memorable for Christmas. I enlisted Joe Blessing to join me, and Joe in turn invited two younger guys who were FSU physics majors.
Tony and friends parked at the corner of the Truck Route and Woodville Highway to start their trek. They found it easier to run on the shoulder of the highway than the railroad bed until just north of Woodville, where they turned off onto a dirt road that closely paralleled the railroad tracks. After running to the south side of Woodville they ran on the tracks until reaching Highway 98. At that point they returned to the highway and ran the remaining distance to the Fort at St. Marks. Of course they topped off the run with a visit to Posey’s before being picked up for the trip back to Tallahassee. 1980 was long before the abandoned railroad bed would become a paved trail owned by the park system, but a tradition was born. The Tallahassee Rails to Trails coalition was formed in 1985 and the Governor and Cabinet passed a resolution in 1986 to convert the right of way into Florida’s first “rails to trail.” A generous appropriation from the Florida legislature enabled the paving of the trail to be completed in 1987.
My first year participating in this event was 1984 and I noted in my running diary that there were “around 26 people” running the distance from the trail head to St. Marks. I have run the trail almost every year since and while I still can’t “characterize” this event, maybe some things are better off without a label. They just need to be shared with friends.