Female Runner of the Year - Kirsten Baggett

By Laura Howard

For those of you that attended the Gulf Winds Track Club Awards Banquet, you were probably wondering “who is the new girl presenting Female Runner of the Year?” If you had seen me before, it was probably right before a race, following Kirsten Baggett around like a lost puppy. I have only been running competitively for just over a year, and I have learned so much from this amazing runner. I usually get tips about the course, and how to start out, then the gun goes off and I don’t see her again until the finish line.

I nominated Kirsten for Female Runner of the Year for many reasons. The first one being that she is an amazing athlete. She has been running since she was only 14 years old. Her first race was a 10K that she finished in 50 minutes. Most recently she completed 26.2 miles during the Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic in 3 hours 50 minutes and 9 seconds, to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which she will run in 2007. She consistently places as one of the top runners in her age group at every race she enters, and even won the Female Runner of the Year for Broward County in 1981.

Not only is she a great runner, but she finds time to practice this sport while putting just as much effort into other areas of her life. She works part time as a math tutor, raises two children (and a husband!), and volunteers countless hours as a church Deacon at Faith Presbyterian Church.

I think the main attribute that sets Kirsten apart from other great runners is her true love of the sport. I really started to notice this during some of our longer runs. My first Half Marathon was this past November in Boston, Georgia. As many people know, it is really an “out and back” race. Kirsten offered to drive up there and run it with me to help get me across the finish line. Once we hit the turn, I noticed the she started yelling “Way to Go”, and “You’re doing a great job!” to almost everyone we passed in the opposite direction. While I think a lot of runners are concentrating on how far ahead they are of the slower runners, I saw that Kirsten was genuinely excited about others’ success as well as her own. That spoke volumes to me about what it really means to be a great runner. Not only do you have to be a great athlete, but you must also experience enjoyment for others’ achievements.

Kirsten truly embodies such amazing qualities in both her running life and personal life. She has taught me, as well as many others, what it really means to be a great athlete and it is for these reasons why I nominated, and was so pleased to present the Female Runner of the Year to my friend and mentor, Kirsten Baggett.