Cleveland-Caldwell Award for Advancement of the Sport - Mike SchneiderPresented by Rex Cleveland
The person we honor tonight for Advancement of the Sport has been a steady and tough age-group competitor for over 30 years. Most of that time we’ve been in the same age group, so it was hard not to notice him. He rarely missed a local race and usually ran every Grand Prix race; this has had the sobering effect of keeping the rest of us constantly pushing ourselves to keep up with him. So, for a start, he certainly has motivated his competitors to keep training and racing.
It’s much more difficult though, selling someone on the idea of taking up running in the first place. I’m pretty sure I’ve never talked anyone into it. Yet numerous people have stepped up to report that the person we honor tonight got them started or restarted in running, gave encouragement and advice to keep them running and, of course, got them to join Gulf Winds Track Club. It turns out that this modest, unassuming man has been a sort of recruiting sergeant for running and Gulf Winds, even following up on the progress of his recruits, coaching and encouraging them in their pursuit of improvement and fitness.
With a partner to help, he became a volunteer running coach at two middle-schools, first Bellevue and later Cobb, and got some of our top runners and coaches to come and help him. Some children needed help to get running clothing and shoes and pay for race entry fees, which was done with help from the Chenoweth Fund and donations from Club members. Getting the children who had no transportation safely to and from weekend races was another challenge. They did all this for 8 years! Some of the children have continued running, most notably one who ran on the cross-country team when he graduated to Godby High School. Hanging around after school, with running probably the furthest thing from his mind, he had been spotted by our super-recruiter and gently induced to take up running.
For those still unsure who is getting this award, you may know him better for his 26 consecutive finishes of our Tallahassee Marathon on its many different courses, including the current one, which he designed and we hope to use for a long time.
If more of us could “be like Mike,” we might have a lot more local runners and members of Gulf Winds Track Club. Sadly, we don’t get to embarrass Mike Schneider by bringing him up on stage, nor do we get to see his smiling face when he accepts this Award, because he died this past September. Susan Cornwell, his partner in running and life, will be accepting this Award on his behalf. We are lucky to have run with him.