By David Yon
All the hurricane threats of 2004 triggered a hazy memory of some good writing from 1985. On November 22, 1985 Hurricane Kate made landfall on the gulf coast as a category two hurricane causing $300 million in damages. (Source: http://www.csc.noaa.gov/crs/cohab/hurricane/kate/kate.htm) Power in Tallahassee stayed out for much longer than a week in many areas. On November 23, 1985, the day after the storm, 341 runners finished the Dean Chenoweth 15K Classic (now known as Turkey Trot). Larry Greene was the men’s winner in 46:31, while Karen MacHarg won the women’s title in 56:49. Dot Skofronick was the race director who pulled it all together the day after the storm. I remember it well, because she had talked me into helping her with the race that year.
Who better to capture the moment than Rex Cleveland. Here is what he had to say about it in his “Point to Point” column published in the January 1986 Fleet Foot.
“With the city still in shock from the AFTERMATH OF THE HURRICANE, I felt surprised and a bit guilty as I was warming up for the Dean Chenoweth 15K. I kept expecting the police to come along and tell us we couldn’t run, and there they were helping us. But many people seemed to welcome the race as a sign that things were getting back to normal and as a way to get involved in something that could help put aside their concerns over the problems left by the storm. Many found they were sore from the unaccustomed lumberjack work they had done on Friday. I felt we were very lucky to be able to hold our race. HAROLD TINSLEY was not so lucky. The radio show the RRCA President was supposed to do on Friday evening didn’t happen. There was one station on the air and it was just reporting on the local disaster situation. Then a 7pm to 7am curfew was declared which wiped out the pre-race clinic and race packet pickup at the civic center. Harold was staying with the Skofronick family, which, like most of us, had no electric power. The few restaurants that were open were jammed and didn’t make for the kid of meeting place you wanted to spend much time in. Tallahassee wasn’t in good shape for visitors. Thanks for trying Harold. Maybe you can come back sometime when we’re not in the process of being declared a disaster area.”
(Some guy named Kent Vann ran 55:50 to beat me by six seconds and take the 30-34 age group trophy away from me that year. Some how I guess I got hooked on the race though despite it all. I believe I have been to everyone since.)