By David Yon
Is there something special about running or is it the unique group that makes up GWTC’s membership that brings folks of all ages together? Most likely it is a little bit of both. The 2003 Pot Luck Bash was a great opportunity for all ages to play in the rain together and then sit down for some first class food. Two year old Alex Bowman was at one end of the spectrum, while Robert Morris (71) and John Morris (70) brought the most experience to the table. In-between were the usual master’s participants like winner Tim Unger, high school stars like the Chenoweth Award winners, and FSU distance runners getting ready to go compete in the NCAA Championships.
Tim Unger won the race twice – he had the fastest time 25:08, and it was only nine seconds off the time he had predicted (25:17) so he won the prediction competition as well. Meredith Fraser was only one second behind Tim missing her predicted time of 32:30 by just ten seconds as she finished in 32:20. Sarah Docter-Williams was the top female finisher with a 25:36, but was just seventh in the prediction contest.
The winners of the 2003 Chenoweth Fund outstanding track and field and cross country athletes we announced as well. In addition to the four winners, seven other athletes were recognized. The winners were: Cross country: Alex Miletich (Chiles) and Jennifer Emo (Maclay); Track and Field: Nicole Marcus (Godby, 100/200) and Ross McMillan (Maclay, 400, 800 and 1600). The finalists were Herbie Thiele (Chiles High School), Michelle Jenije (North Florida Christian), Marcus Sims (North Florida Christian), Nakia Daniels (Leon High School), Chinelo Ubaka (Chiles High School), Simone Clark (Rickards High School) and Scott Crews (Leon High School). Look for more on their performances later. Coaches Scott Gowan, Allison Eagan and Chris Sumner were there to support their athletes. The top winners received a total of $2,000 in scholarship money. This brings to total amount of Chenoweth Fund awards to over $27,000.
Also in attendance at the ceremony were FSU Coach Bob Braman and a number of FSU’s top distance runners. They were all on their way to compete at the NCAA championships.
Over in Pensacola, Jack McDermott, Jeff Bryan (last year’s winner), Gary Griffin and Andrew Maury all finished the Pennar 40 miler and finished in the top ten. Hopefully, we will get more details from one or more of them. Iron Jack followed his recent marathon PR with a second place finish at Pennar, running around 5:26:30. Jack’s run is one of the most impressive running streaks I have ever witnessed. I remember when I used to think I was having a really bad race when I saw him. Now I think “I must finally be at the finish line, how nice of Jack to hang around while the rest of finish.” His run is impressive not just for the way his times keep dropping, but for the volume of racing he has done. It seems almost every other week it is a new PR. I still count myself in recovery from Boston, while he ran a 2:50 marathon for a huge PR and now a great effort in Pennar. Jeff Bryan took third in 5:40, while Gary Griffin was fourth in around 5:45 and Andrew Maury was sixth in 6:17.
And what goes around comes around. Each of the last two years the Chenoweth Fund has helped support the Kids Red HillsTriathlon with small contributions. Well the grown up triathletes responded by making a contribution of $1,000 to the Chenoweth Fund resulting from the 2003 Red Hills Triathlon. The presentation was made by Kathy McDaris who directed the event. GWTC has a large number of members who participate in triathlons, short and long. It has been good for the club, I believe, and this is just one great example. Kathy was the driving force behind adding the Triathlete of the Year award to the list of annual awards the club presents each year. Tony Guillen (another of those runners who keeps setting PR’s almost every time out) attends all the GWTC board meetings to make we all stay in the news on what’s up in the tri world.
On of my favorite running memories remains the 10,000 meter Olympic final in Atlanta in 1996. A diminutive Ethiopian named Haile Gebrselassie rocked the stadium that night in a ferocious battle for the gold medal. One of the things that made is so special was the electric atmosphere. Somehow the stadium that night seemed half filled with Ethiopian countrymen and women cheering Haile on – waiving flags and dancing in the isles. The love between one of the greatest distance runners and his countrymen was stirring to watch. He has never forgotten his home and constantly works to improve the lives of those in his country. In some ways he perhaps has done the job too well. A few weeks ago for the first time I can remember a healthy and fit Gebrselassie lost a 10,000 meter race. The two time Olympic Gold medalist watched one of his protégé from Ethiopia cross the line ahead of him. Bekele Kenenisa ran 26:53.70 to Gebrselassie’s 26:54.58. Bekele won both the short and long World Championship cross country titles this year and appears ready to claim the title of best distance runner in the world. I hope if that happens he can also wear the mantle of class that his mentor has worn so well for so many years. Of course 26:54.58 is not exactly washed up.