By Gary Griffin,
Warning: the following story may contain an occasional historical inaccuracy; nonetheless, it is important enough to tell, even if the truth is slightly “manufactured” by the writer.
Tallahassee road-racing history was made yesterday (Saturday May 5), and it would be a gross oversight to let the event pass without recognition.
Jerry McDaniel, a long-time member of the Running Sloths, ran down Chuck Davis in the stretch at the Elder Care Services 5K to capture the first-ever win by a member of that illustrious group. Not being a historian, I cannot attest to the humble beginnings of the Sloths, but feel comfortable in saying that they are past their 20th anniversary. They came into being as a parody of “Running South,” and, I understand, at one time had shirts that matched those of the 70s-era speedsters. These days, they frequent the noontime sidewalks of the FSU campus and Myers Park, competing to determine who buys “the dogs” that week. As far as I can tell, there is but one female member of the Sloths, that being the unslothful Yvonne Gsteiger, who has kicked a multitude of male butts in her day…….
The single greatest effort that I personally ever witnessed in athletic competition involved two Sloths in an early 1990s Shamrock Scurry, a classic 5k, that was hosted by the Killearn Methodist Church, and which was followed by a wonderful pancake breakfast … which, of course, is what resulted in these two Sloths being present. Billy Perry and the aforementioned Jerry McDaniel had a “dog bet” on the line, and it was an important one. As I recall, in those days, the Scurry was the first big 5K of the year, and each was determined to assert their superiority amongst the other Sloths after a long, cold winter. I was working the finish line that day, and thought I had witnessed the absolute stone-cold death of Bill Perry at the finish line, as he fought with every ounce of his being to avoid having to buy a dog that week for Jerry McDaniel. Seeing as how he was being his usual slothful self and running a non-descript 10 miler at Overstreet on Saturday morning while McDaniel was etching himself a place in local running lore is attestation to the fact that he not only survived, but may be single-handedly responsible for the demise of “the Scurry,” since it became a financial liability for the good men at Killearn Methodist shortly thereafter.
The only other tid-bit of secrecy that has escaped from the Sloth camp over the years has been the story of their annual “banquet,” at which the highly-disdained “Sorriest Performance By A Sloth in Athletic Competition” is awarded. There have been (from what I’ve been told) some epic battles for this award, including the year that Perry walked his bike up the Mt. Mitchell Challenge, and the year that Vic Heller gained 30 lbs in a 2 week period before Pine Run. Such is that of which legends are made.
But yesterday, boys and girls, a Sloth rose to the top. Jerry McDaniel may have either anchored himself a position in the Sloth Hall-Of-Fame or he may have been banned for life from ever sharing another FSU sidewalk and a Student Union dog with them. Jerry – you were great! Hold your head high!
I enjoyed your fascinating piece on Jerry’s recent effort and the partially accurate Sloth history. I must point out that it was actually Jerry who walked his bike up a good portion of the Mt. Mitchell course. You may have confused that effort with Perry’s Worst Performance Award-winning effort of completing the last several miles of the New York City marathon in a cab.
I am, of course, saddened to hear that the oh-so-appropriately named Elder Care Services 5K has fallen on such hard times that it only had 6 participants.
John Stacklyn, Founder