Times Remembered – Mr. Race Director, Joe Dexter

Mary Jean Yon,

A good race director who sticks with a race is a wonderful thing. Over the years in running history, there have been some excellent examples to point to. There’s Fred Lebow who founded the New York City Marathon and then directed it for 23 years. There’s Julia Emmons who directed the Peachtree Road Race for 22 years and there’s Harold and Louise Tinsley who founded the Rocket City Marathon and then directed it for 20 years.

Here in Tallahassee, we have our own race director to add to this distinguished list. And while he has many races on his resume, Joe Dexter should surely claim The Flash 12K as his legacy. This month’s running of The Flash on February 16th will mark the 20th anniversary of the race. The Flash 12K was founded by Joe after he was inspired by a combination of the Lilac Bloomsday 12K in Spokane, Washington (for its unique distance) and Bay-To-Breakers in San Francisco, California (for its large and zany crowd). As they were brainstorming this creation back in 1989, Joe and his son Chris found themselves enamored with the Flash, a superhero who billed himself as “the fastest man alive!”
Joe has always had a flair for unique ideas and catchy race themes and this race is certainly no exception.

In 2002, Joe added a sentimental twist and dedicated the race to the memory of Tim Simpkins, a long loved Gulf Winds member who died of cancer the previous year. Little did he know, at that time, that Joe himself would be diagnosed with colon cancer three years after the passing of Tim and would go on to fight his own battle. His long medical journey turned out to be something only Superman and the Flash would dare take on and only Joe Dexter could survive.

Never one to give up, in both his personal life and his running duties, Joe and The Flash 12K have also weathered a few logistical challenges over the years. The race venue changed from Chaires Cross Road, where traffic was nothing short of a nightmare, to the peace and quiet of the St. Marks Trail in Woodville. One unfortunate consequence of the move was the loss of homemade pies that were baked by the Chaires-Capitola Homeowners Association and presented as age group awards. I sure do miss those pies! But one thing remains constant with this race and that is the classy t-shirt that features no advertising and lots of Flash creativity. Runners who show up this year wearing a previous year’s shirt receive a $1 discount on their entry fee!

Another constant for Joe since 2000 is his co-race director. Some would argue the race took its best and most productive turn in 2000 when Nadine Dexter joined her husband in directing this race…and many others! The two of them together represent one of the greatest Gulf Winds synergistic effects of all times! And did I mention that this year’s Flash 12K is a Grand Prix race? Come join Joe & Nadine at J. Lewis Hall Park in Woodville on February 16th. There’s a lot to celebrate!

Gulf Winds is fortunate to have many star players in addition to the Dexters. For those that made it to last month’s Awards Ceremony, the evening was chocked full of quality people that either received awards or took part in the presentations. It truly was an inspiring night that is covered in more detail on the Awards page of this website. Check it out and offer up a hearty congratulations to our winners. These people are a large part of what makes this club so great!