Mary Jean Yon,
By the time you read this column, it will most likely be too late to get so inspired by my writing that you suddenly find you simply MUST run the Tallahassee Marathon…despite your lack of training and preparation. And that’s o.k. More to the point, when February 4, 2007 rolls around, it will mark the 32nd running of the Tallahassee Marathon which is rumored to be the first “official” Gulf Winds Track Club (GWTC) race! It also presents a wonderful opportunity for me to elaborate a bit more on the title and theme of this column, “Times Remembered.”
As T.S. Eliot taught us last month, “what might have been and what has been; point to one end, which is always present.” When Race Director Jay Silvanima gathers his runners at the starting line on February 4th, it should never be portrayed as just another marathon. To know that this race began back in 1975 is to appreciate it that much more. To watch the race directors who, over time, may have tried different courses but always had the same desire to make this a well known, if not famous, race…is to want to jump in and help achieve that goal.
Perhaps I speak out of guilt. Considering that I’ve been running for over 20 years and have run many a marathon; it’s rather embarrassing to admit that I’ve only run my home town marathon once. That was back in 1989 when the race was staged at Wacissa Springs and the course covered much of Tram Road. I’ve always been one to seek the crowds and hustle-bustle of the larger marathons in big cities and I might have even groused a bit about the loneliness of Tram Road. Despite my negativity, the Wacissa course served the club well and the race was run there for 12 years, from 1986 until1997.
When a decision was made to return the race to within the city limits of Tallahassee in 1998, there was also a renewed energy to promote the race and attract a larger field. After all, Tallahassee is the capital of Florida, right? Shouldn’t the capital city have a marathon that can take on the Disney marathon, Jacksonville, Miami, etc.? You would think so! To make that happen is another thing entirely, but I’m here to tell you…the race directors that have come forward in the last ten years, like Gary & Peg Griffin, Dana Stetson, Fred Deckert, Jack McDermott and Toma Wilkerson are well on the way to making that happen. This year Jay Silvanima has taken over control of the race and is working very hard to push the marathon to the next level. This year’s race registrations have already passed last year’s finish numbers!
The other key to success for our marathon is its excellent organization. It should be no secret that 26.2 miles calls for a lot of volunteers to make everything run smoothly. As we learned at the GWTC Ultra recently, when runners are out on a course for long periods of time, they take great comfort in whatever a volunteer may have to offer, even if it’s as simple as a smile.
So think about joining us on February 4th. If you don’t want to run the marathon or the half-marathon, rest assured there’s ALWAYS a need for volunteers. Or just come cheer on the runners. The more we, as residents of Tallahassee, get out and support this event, the more we help Jay and all his predecessors achieve the goal of making this one of Florida’s best marathons.
Who knows, maybe one day the Tallahassee marathon can be like the Boston marathon in that spectators line the entire length of the course and cheer so loudly your head hurts by the time you cross the finish line. It could very well be “the end we point to.” And it won’t be for lack of trying!
If you’re reading this article and it’s well past February 4th…well here’s hoping a little seed of inspiration got planted and we’ll see you next year!