A Week or So of Summer


David Yon,

There is no debating that summertime in Tallahassee brings a smothering layer of humidity that combines with high enough temperatures to make people from cooler places wonder how we could live here.this time of year. Of course, air conditioning is critical. But beyond that, we learn how to adapt. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very serious conditions and should be treated that way.

But it certainly doesn’t mean runners have to retreat inside. Especially now, during the summer of 2018, when summer seems a little more moderate then usual. It seems as if we have a temporary break in the record setting heat we have battled the last few years. (I am certain that will change after this column and we will be back to 95 plus degrees.) Sunday’s paper predicted highs of 89, 90, 91, 90 and 89 degrees for this week matched by lows of 73 and 74 over those same days. And that has pretty much been the range over most of June and July so far. Yes, that is still hot, but bearable by Tallahassee standards.

It is also the year of the thunderstorm as there has been a steady parade of afternoon thunderstorms wreaking havoc. Often the storms are ferocious with black billowy clouds claiming control of the sky, followed by thunder’s deep rolling explosions rattling the sky. And before you can reach the safety of home, a downpour, seemingly freed from the sky by vicious bolts of lightning, has created lakes where parking lots once existed and torrents of water flooding down anything with a slope. I am reasonably sure these storms are a big part of what has moderated the temperatures this year.

The opportunities to run in organized events through the summer in Tallahassee are remarkable. The Thursday night Summer Track Series has been around for more than 40 years. (It has been at Maclay School almost 20 years. A big thank you to Gary Droze and the school for that.). Perry Shaw, Tom Perkins, Jeanne O’Kon, Lisa Unger and Bill Lott keep this event which is administered jointly by Gulf Winds Track Club (GWTC) and the City of Tallahassee, going. Lucas Williams with City Parks and Rec has been an active participant this year. It might be the GWTC event most subject to the weather. Lightening warnings stop the action more often than anyone would like.

Regardless of the weather challenges, this series of 7 or 8 track meets each summer has been a traditional way of introducing children to the sport of track and running. It has always been a family event. An oval track with a giant grass field in the middle is a near perfect playground. Competition events start with the 40-yard diaper dash and work up to a 5K. Weather permitting, grand prix competitors run 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, 1-mile, 2-mile and 5K races for points, while others run just for fun. The grand prix events have been run in a different order this year because of some technical issues with scoring the races, as well as the weather challenges. With 4 weeks down, I believe the remaining events are the 800-meter (up this week), the 2-mile (up the last week) and the 5K (next week) races. After 4 weeks Nicole Wilson has a 3-point lead over Lauren Heitmeyer in the women’s overall competition and Ryan Truchelut has comfortable lead over Tarik Noriea.

The GWTC Summer Trail Series has been terrific so far this year. Saturday, July 7, was the second trail race and the half way point of the series that has 2 races to go. Runners cruised the single-track trails of the Phipps Park this past Saturday. The course was 4.1 miles and very up and down, narrow, filled with roots, often covered by leaves. And it finished with a very tough three hill climb. Very different from the first race through Munson Hills. That race course was hard packed dirt or sand with good footing and not many hills. The third race, at Maclay Gardens State Park, is 5 miles long and will be run on July 21, 2018 (weather permitting) on the single-track trails and the last race of the series will start at Tom Brown Park and cover 4.5miles on August 4. The trail series is the creation of Bobby York but is now directed by Kristin and Jim Halley. They have put in a lot of work to make this series a “fun” opportunity for runners.

And the final “can’t miss” summer event was the Firecracker 5K and 1M Sparkler Run on July 4 at Cascades Park. There is just something good about running on the 4th of July. It is the second biggest day (behind Thanksgiving) for racing in the United States. The 2018 5K had 479 finishers while the Mile had 45 finishers. The total was down a little from last year, but still strong. Thanks to the Kiwanis Club for keeping this event going.
You can of course find a lot more information about all of these events and many more coming as summer continues to roll at www.gulfwinds.org.