A Last Hurrah
It is a fabulous tradition – running from the front of the courthouse, through the streets of downtown Tallahassee, along Franklin Boulevard, and looping through Woodland Drives and Myers Park past houses like the Cochran house that were built in the 1920s and 1930s. And of course, when the weather timing is right the neighborhoods are filled with azaleas and other flowers. It has been that way, more or less, since the downtown version of Springtime 10K started in 1977. The race is truly a part of Tallahassee’s cultural fabric.
The setting for the Springtime road races has always (well except for some road construction detours) been spectacular, showcasing what is best about the city. But it takes more than a grand setting to make a race like Springtime special. It requires the hard work of some very dedicated race directors over many years, something Springtime has always been blessed with. This year will be the last hurrah for a husband and wife team that have guided the race to unmatched heights. Brian Corbin and Judy Alexander are leaving Tallahassee for Houston, Texas after directing the race seven times. They have left a huge mark on the race, keeping it a high quality event while expanding to more people than ever before. Fortunately, they have recruited Sean and Amanda Hudson to take over. Brian and Judy have done their duty by leaving the race in good hands.
Consider these facts. Prior to taking over as race directors in 2007, the largest crowd at a Springtime race was 916 runners in 1984. There were 818 in 2006. In their first year directing the race, Judy and Brian watched a record 1192 (867 in the 10K and 325 in the 1 mile) runners cross the finish line. The race has continued to grow ever since.
They added a 5K in 2008. It was a controversial decision as many longtime participants believed it was the Springtime 10K and there was no room for a 5K. I remember giving Judy my recommendation that she stay with the 10K and 1 mile and forget the 5K. She was determined however to open the race up to more people and believed the 5K would do that. And sure enough, the 5K was an immediate hit (423 finishers), even while the 10k numbers kept growing (820). Many runners, who had always been intimidated by the hilly 10K, said the 5K made it possible for them to believe they could be part of Springtime. In 2011 the 5K grew to 731 finishers, the 10K saw 934 finishers and the mile had 222 finishers for a record crowd of 1887. The numbers dipped just a little last year with much of the course under construction, but they were still strong with both the 5K and the 10K reporting a great number of finishers.
Growing a race is not much fun for the runners though if the race directors can’t keep up. That has not been a problem though as Brian and Judy have been more than up to the task. Of course all race directors know something always goes wrong, they just hope whatever goes wrong is not critical or that it can be overcome. Brian and Judy have done such a great job over their tenure it is hard to find something that went wrong, so I had to ask each of them to tell me their most embarrassing moment. Judy had the best – she reminded me that one year as she was passing out the awards, she realized they had the wrong date on them. She was happy to report though that not a single runner complained. But the real story of their tenure is what has gone right and how well they have produced the race each year. The best reward for each of them: Just seeing happy runners being part of something special.
They have made a fabulous tradition, something even better!