By Gary Griffin
Jeff Bryan led a one-two Gulf Winds sweep June 1, by enduring intense heat and dive-bombing birds to capture the Pennar 40 Mile Run at Pensacola Beach in a time of 5:56 – 20 minutes ahead of this second place finisher (who was Gary Griffin). In a clear case of pupil hammering the teacher, Jeff demonstrated outstanding patience by settling into a strong but controlled early pace, thus avoiding the crash landing that he experienced last year after leading this race for 25 miles only to fade to fourth. This time he ran wonderfully, never faltered, and held onto the one and half to two mile lead that he had built by mile 22 at the Navarre Bridge all the way back to the finish at Pensacola Beach. Jeff was supported every step of the way by Herbie Wills, who managed to hold him in check and make him throttle back when he tried to run away from his pursuers too quickly. At mile 35, entering Pensacola Beach, as other runners were dropping like the “white rain” that fell from the sky courtesy of the nesting Least Terns, Jeff held his pace and cruised to victory. It was indeed an impressive performance.
Third place overall and first female went to Joy Watson of Boca Raton, who was the third place female in this year’s Tallahassee Marathon, and the winner of the Withlacoochee Rails-To-Trails 50K back in March.
GWTC’s other entrant, Dana Stetson, started very strong but was overcome by flu-like symptoms and had to drop out at mile 20. It very well could have been a 1-2-3 GWTC finish, as Dana was running very well, and thrives on the brutal heat that Pennar prides itself in.
So – hats off to Jeff who, in only his 5th ultra, became the first Tallahassee winner of Pennar since Dana won back in 1991. Now – if we can get Jeff to do a training run longer than 10 miles, we may really have an ultra runner in our midst!