The Web page is interested in taking a look back at some of GWTC members’ special moments as one way of celebrating the club’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Mary Jean volunteered to go first and we will be trying to contact some others. If you have a special memory we would love to hear about it. The goal is to publish one story a week. Please contact David Yon if you are willing!
By Mary Jean Yon
What I like about running is the fact that we are all capable of having our own individual flashes of glory. I was recently reminded of one of mine one cool crisp Saturday morning as I ran down Shamrock Street in Killearn. Suddenly I was back in 1991, racing in the Echo 8K with a little over one mile to go. Now bear in mind, that was long before Sarah Docter-Williams and Jane Johnson and all the other super-fast women came to town so it wasn’t totally unheard of to win a race now and then, provided the right people showed up (or failed to show up!) and the planets aligned themselves properly. Such was the case for me that day but my oxygen deprived brain had yet to figure that out! Instead, I was struggling to understand why this guy on roller blades was accompanying me as I ran. From time to time he would skate ahead of me, take my picture, and then drop back and ask me how I was doing. After a round of clumsy thinking, I finally realized I must be winning the race and summoned my best effort to get me to the finish line. The finish was an exciting one as the #2 woman appeared and did her best to take the race. Those who know me well know I am not a kicker but you would have been proud of me that day. The race director had successfully lined up some rare newspaper coverage of the race and the next day the sports section ran a story titled, “Close and Yon Run To Echo 8K Wins.” And they weren’t talking about David! Me and Jessie Close? My head was big!
The guy on roller blades turned out to be named Peter and he was affiliated with a regional running magazine. He was covering the race because it was on the Florida Grand Prix series of The Athletics Congress (TAC.) The second place woman turned out to be a contender in that series who was hoping to put a lock on her standings by winning ECHO. I had spoiled her chances and Peter was quick to explain that because I was a TAC member, I was now eligible to participate in the last event of the series, which would be a 5K to be held in Miami. I didn’t bother telling him that it was pure coincidence that I had signed on with TAC only to run the Boston Marathon earlier that year. He went on to explain that a respectable finish in the upcoming 5K could guarantee me second place in the Grand Prix competition, worth $500. My head got bigger! I had just had the race of my life. Who’s to say I couldn’t do it again…on command!
Well, we all know where this story is going. David and I traveled to Miami two weeks later, spent twice the amount of money I stood to win, faced grueling temperatures and almost croaked but…I held on to get third overall in that race and my $500. Granted, it was a net loss financially but my ego was still in tact and my smile was still big.
I don’t win many races these days and I’ve noticed those offers to run out of town races for cash stopped coming in. But it’s those kinds of memories that keep me running and enjoying this sport. Who knows, another flash of glory could be just around the corner for any of us. How about you?