Tallahassee 2001: A Race Odyssey
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance . . .”
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verses 1 and 3 (and The Byrds in their 1960s hit, “Turn, Turn, Turn”).
And so it was, on a glorious Sunday morning in mid-January when David Yon and Carrie Weyant surged through the hills of northeast Tallahassee to capture the men’s and women’s titles in the 27th running of the Tallahassee Marathon. They overcame much more than what may very well be the most difficult marathon course in the southeast US-they helped all of us overcome, at least for a moment, the darkness brought on by the serious illness of our friend, fellow runner, and twice winner of this event, Tim Simpkins.
Carrie’s time of 3:36:01 enabled her to capture her second marathon win in three years, once again showing the strength and determination that ranks her among the top female distance runners in this area. When Carrie is “marathon ready,” as she was this past Sunday, there is not a course around that will intimidate her. And, it was a good thing that she was “marathon ready” on Sunday, for the equally strong and determined Julie Clark continued her meteoric rise on the local scene with a time of 3:37:30, and finished looking as if she could handle the course a second time. Shelley Tyler finished third, with a time of 3:47:25, while Kelly Tucker took the women’s Masters Division with a time of 3:48:09.
On the men’s side, David Yon prevailed with the only sub three hour marathon time of the day in 2:57:25. It was especially heartening to me as a race director to see David power up the final Tallahassee Nurseries hill and onto the finish, for it finally made it possible to applaud him, not only for what he means to GWTC as a leader, but now also a winner of the Tallahassee Marathon. His humility is such that we rarely get the chance to put him in the spotlight, but, for once, he could not escape it-there at the very top of the final results was the name “David Yon.” Before the start, it was clear that his thoughts were dominated by the news of Tim’s condition and the steep hills that he is now up against. It was further evident at the finish, where his first breathless words to me were “Those 30 [Grand Prix] points go to Tim.”
You have no doubt heard it said that the marathon is really made up of two races-the first 20 miles and the last 10K. That was apparent on Sunday. Robert Leach of Ontario, Canada, led the field or much of the first 20 miles, at times as much as three and a half minutes ahead of his pursuers. But, on the stretch of Shamrock North between McLaughlin Drive and Gardenview, David narrowed that deficit, and powered by his rival in A.J. Henry Park. The only remaining question was whether or not he could hold off the challenge of fellow distance ace Michael LaBossiere, running his second consecutive strong Tallahassee Marathon and finishing second with a time of 3:04:42. Third place went to Alfie Cronin with a time of 3:06:39. Felton Wright, a former two-time winner of the marathon, came in fourth overall, with a time of 3:12:18.
The field of 86 marathoners (46 from out of town) represented an increase of 65% over the year 2000, a trend that will hopefully continue as others discover that, if they can deal with the challenges of Tallahassee, they can handle most anything out there on the marathon circuit.
Although the marathon was the crown jewel event of this particular day, much can be said about the performances of the half marathoners as well. Absolutely stunning in her domination was Sarah Docter-Williams, who demolished the women’s field with a time of 1:27:47. The second place overall woman was Lisa Whitworth, finishing in 1:41:20, followed by Colleen Smith in 1:41:26. Mary Jean Yon won the women’s Masters Division in 1:44:47 (and would have been featured on the Yon highlight reel if not for what her husband did less than an hour and a half later). It was another solid performance by Mary Jean, as it was by the Grandmasters winner, Pam Shaw, with a time of 1:43:46.
In what hopefully marked the beginning of a long time partnership, the Big Bend Stand for Children joined in to stage the 2-mile event as a “Run Against Poverty,” a kickoff event of the Capital Area Community Action Agency’s campaign to raise awareness of poverty. Bill McGuire took home the adult winner’s purse of $75 in one of the better kept pre-race secrets (hey, Breeda, I asked you to join us and told you that “You really SHOULD run the 2-miler . . .”). Second overall and winner of the youth division award was James Dexter, who, in order to retain his amateur status, donated it back to the Big Bend Stand for Children. Good job, Bill and James, and to Dot Inman-Crews, who approached the club and planted the seed for this event.
As first time race directors, Peg and I want you to know that we are honored to be able to coordinate such an event as this. And, coordinate is what we did-because there were over 100 of your fellow GWTC members and their friends on the course (too numerous to list here), who tended aid stations, guarded and directed runners through a myriad of intersections, and once again showed us why this has been called “the best small town marathon in America.” Of equal importance were those dependable folks at the finish area who stepped forward to handle registration, timing and results, and post-race festivities. I feel like we have found a home for this event at Tallahassee Nurseries, and much of the thanks for that goes to Amanda Pace, a former employee who has begun her own landscape design business, Gardens, Inc. Gardens, Inc., joined Tallahassee Nurseries as a co-sponsor and the two worked together to make this day special for all of us in so many ways. Our sincere thanks goes out to all of the other sponsors-Tallahassee Sports Council; Core Institute School of Massage Therapy; Dessi Insurance Agency; Dunn Chiropractic; The Minno Law Firm; North Hampton Animal Hospital; Shaw’s Athletics; and Carlos A. Zapata, M.D. A special note of thanks also goes to Ernie and Alice Sims, directors of the co-beneficiaries of the race proceeds, the Capital City Christian Cruisers Track Club, who designed and constructed the mile marker signs that we hope to use for years to come; and to the ever-dependable “Mr. Exacto” (a/k/a Bill McGuire), who gave up many hours of his time to assure USTAF certification of what we hope will be our permanent marathon and half marathon courses. They are tough courses indeed, but so are those whose spirits permeated the event-those of Craig Hasty and Tim Simpkins, and the many other heroes that will grace it in the years to come.