First in a Long Time

David Yon, December 09, 2011

It hasn’t happened since June of 1999. In 2002 an existing race was adopted. It happened in 1998. Before these examples you have to go all the way back to 1982 to find one. There was one in 1980 and all the others were born in the 70’s. GWTC races have a remarkable record for longevity. But with a slate of 15 quality events on the annual schedule new ones are rarely created. So next Saturday is a major event as the Tannenbaum Trail 6K becomes the first newly created GWTC race in 12 years. That is reason enough to show up for this event.

Of the 15 other races on the annual calendar 9 began in the 70’s and one got started in 1980. Breakfast on the Track (the mile race) came on the scene in 1998 and the Pot Luck Bash launched in 1999. Billy Bowlegs actually started in 1985, but did not become a club race until 2002. All are still annual events. It is a remarkable record. So there is good reason to believe this “once in a decade” occurrence will be special.

It is under the direction of one the elite guardians of the club’s history (Herb Wills, rivaled only by Rex and Mae Cleveland and Bill McGuire) and the visionary for the event, Brian Corbin. The beginnings for this event actually occurred in 2006 and 2007 as the guardians of the Miccosukee Greenway became increasingly unhappy about the running events being held on those trails. A great venue for college, high school and middle school cross country meets and for one big GWTC event large racing events were banished from these lands. Brian Corbin, an avid trail runner and a former high school cross country coach, was determined that if one great venue was going to be lost another one would have to be found or if necessary created to take its place. Brian had a good ally and friend in FSU track and cross country coach, Bob Braman. Somewhere along the way, they were introduced to the Apalachee Regional Park as a possible substitute. This is where the word “visionary” comes into play. Set in the shadow of the Leon County Landfill, the property was in fact beautiful, but nothing about the thick forest and swampland looked like any cross country course either of them had ever run on before. But there were a few trails and roads and that “vision thing” started to grow. Leon County was ready to support the idea and bring some resources to the table. But there would have to be more partners to make the vision reality. And it would also take a couple machetes and a lot of perseverance.

Brian tells the following story: “When we were first shown the facility, the grass was up to our chests and much of the trail didn’t exist. Bob Braman and I set out to blaze a course through the thick woods. After many hours of trying to work through thick vegetation with machetes, we finally made a complete loop. The county essentially built a causeway through a swampy area of the course, cleared minor trees to make room for our route and cut the fields to our dimensions.” GWTC also contributed $10,000 and many hours of volunteer labor. FSU gave financial support as well and part of the cross country teams’ training regimen became trail building work. It all came together in 2009 with the FSU Invitational, the 2A District Championships, and FACA All Star Cross Country Meet. It has taken a lot of work since, but it has truly become a great venue for cross country meets.

The course has grown to include new trails that will debut at the Tannenbaum Trail 6K. With any luck, FSU will have the opportunity to host a Regional Cross Country Championship there in 2012. All of that is a lot more likely to happen than getting the next chance to run in a first time GWTC event.