Bryant pulls upset at Pennar
By Dana Stetson
Pennar is an ultra race which starts at Pensacola Beach continues to Navarre and back to Pensacola Beach. Although it begins at 4:00 a.m. Central time, all runners end their run in the heat of the day. This course is entirely without shade and on the tar. This year the race was run in the searing heat.
Young Jeffrey Bryant, in a show of courage under fire (well at least under great heat) pulled off an upset win in 5:56 at this 40-miler held on June 1st. Bryant, under the tutelage of Jedi Master Herb Wills, a Tallahassee legend himself, showed his running strength by outlasting second place veteran ultrarunner Gary Griffin, who chased him throughout the race.
Jeff deviated from his usual racing strategy to go out at a controlled and even pace. In the later parts of this race, as the heat rose, he stayed strong and pushed through it to finish in his beautifully understated style. I’m happy to report that Jeff is just as modest and sincere after victory as he is after any other race. Afterward, many of the race workers were commenting on how nice he was throughout the race. If you think it’s tough to run 40 miles in the heat, think about how hard it is to smile doing it!
Another coming-up Tallahassee area runner is Mark Hiers of Crawfordville. He is a relatively new ultra runner, but he is showing some tough stuff. He has competed in the Tallahassee Marathon, the Croom Run and now in Pennar. All three are difficult runs.
These two runners will certainly make some waves in the ultra community as they start to take their fair share at the races. Congratulations to Jeff and all the Pennar finishers.