Female Runner of the Year

Presented by Paula O'Neill

We all run for a variety of reasons.  Some of us run for our health, some of us run to preserve our sanity, and if you’re me you run for the glory.  Most of us, though, would probably agree that we run to overcome something.  The GWTC 2014 Female Runner of the Year is an incredible runner.  She’s fast but she’s also inspiring because of all that she’s overcome to become such a speedster.

But first I’ll give you some of the bona fides of this phenomenal runner.  By my count, this woman has won five races in 2014 and finished second in 12 more races.  I didn’t even attempt to count her top one and two finishes in 2013.  Her second place finish helped the track club win as top team at the Gate to Gate 4.4 Mile race in May 2014.  She finished the year in third place in the 2014 GWTC Grand Prix standings.

That’s all really impressive.  Her rise to being a formidable runner is more impressive, however, when you realize where she was not so long ago.  Six years ago, the 2014 Female Runner of the Year checked into a center to address an addiction.  She made the decision to be sober and has been so now for several years.  In 2012 she found herself pregnant and unsure what to do.  She did something I think is powerful and beautiful—she placed her child in an open adoption.  I was told that when she was about three months along, she looked through an adoption agency’s book of potential parents and selected one couple and wrote their names down.  As her pregnancy continued, however, she became less and less sure that she wanted to go through with the adoption.  Finally, seven months into it, she looked again at 12 potential families.  She chose the same couple all over again, even though she had forgotten she chose them in the first place.  It was meant to be.  She’s maintained a great relationship with her son and his adoptive family, and her son even watched her kick butt at the Gate to Gate race. 

However, I’m not sure you’d ever know that the Female Runner of the Year has had, what at times, must have been a difficult life.  She’s a bright and energetic person who is always cheerful, sunny, and friendly.  Like it is for many of us, running was a source of strength and helped her channel an addictive personality into something healthy and positive.  Watching such an incredible runner arise out of some dark and difficult circumstances is truly inspiring, and I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this award. 

I am so happy to honor a brave young woman, a speedy squirrel, and a fellow Tallafastie, Renee Cox.  Renee, come up and be recognized as Gulf Winds Track Club’s 2014 Female Runner of the Year.