By David Yon
The lines snaked all the way back to edge of the Dupree Street and then twisted around to the north in a manner that would have made Disney proud. It reminded me of a couple Thanksgiving Day Races I have been a part of. An explosion occurs and your race has taken off to a new level. The Registration Crew did an amazing job moving folks through and while the 2006 Palace Saloon got off a little late, it did so in grand style. Race directors Herb Wills and Reid Vannoy have worked hard for several years to build the crowds at one of GWTC’s premier races back to their “glory days.” Until this year, the progress was steady, but missing the big explosion. 2006 was the year the top blew off though as 456 finishers made this largest Palace Race in at least ten years.
The top three runners shared an unusual characteristic – they were all 21 years old or younger. Justin Cross just missed breaking the 16:00 minute barrier with his winning time of 16:04. His time edged out former Chiles teammate Alex Miletich who grabbed second place in 16:17. Trip Southerland finished in 17:04 completing the youth movement sweep of the top three spots. Michael Martinez proved he is back in great shape, grabbing the top master’s top spot and following up on his strong Springtime performance with another huge performance, finishing in 17:13.
On the women’s side, Stephanie Liles continued her very impressive march to fast times wining in 18:33 and breaking the 6:00 pace barrier. Seeley Lovett was not far behind in 19:13 another outstanding performance. Sheryl Rosen was seven seconds behind to complete the top three with a time of 19:20. Following up on the trend of fast women, the Palace saw six women break 20 minutes, including Jana Stolting listed as 14 years old. Julie Clark, at 21:12, was the top female master.
It was a near perfect day and hopefully the crowd enjoyed itself at the post race celebration at the Palace and will be back to keep the race growing.