By Doug Gorton
Thunderstorms and lightning greeted GWTC members at Eglin Air Force Base near Ft. Walton Beach on Memorial Day morning for the 14th Annual Gate to Gate Run. The running and walking events drew 19 participants from Tallahassee including seven men and seven women from GWTC who teamed up to defend the club’s two-year reign as champions in the team competition of the 4.4 mile run.
After a 30-minute delay to accommodate the weather and a larger-than-expected turnout of approximately 1,800 runners and walkers, the race began under light showers and cool conditions. With more elite runners entered than in recent years it was obvious from the start that the GWTC, missing some of its top dogs, was in for a tough day at the races. Except for Tim Unger, age 39, the entire men’s team was comprised of masters and grandmasters who mostly had to compete against teams with an average age of twenty-something. The top three men and top female scored for each team and being over 40 was no benefit.
The unrehearsed strategy for GWTC seemed to be to run as a group with the top three scoring males of Unger (24:41), Bill McGuire (24:51) and Doug Gorton (24:57) running most of the race in a pack to finish within 16 seconds of each other in overall places of 17th, 21st, and 23rd, respectively. Unger was 4th in the 35-39 age group while McGuire and Gorton were 2nd and 3rd Overall Masters. Sarah Docter-Williams defended her Open Women’s title from last year with a big win, individually and for the team, with a time of 25:49. Despite these performances, the elite field and number of teams kept GWTC out of the top spot this year. Even so, the team was pleased to bring back a 3rd place trophy to Tallahassee.
On an individual basis, Mary Jean Yon (30:20) and Janice Hochstein (30:40) were 2nd and 3rd Overall Female Masters, giving GWTC four out of the six Masters awards. Karl Hempel (25:35), David Yon (26:06) and Jane Cormier (32:33) won first place in their age groups. Jerry Ongley (27:12), Bob Keller (36:54) and Lamons Warren won second place in their age groups while Mackie Hempel (39:15) finished fifth in hers. Lisa Dapko fiished in 38:33 and Linda Ongley ran 49:59.
Gene Opheim was first Overall and Tisch Beach was first Overall Female Grandmaster in the race walk competition with times of 36:47 and 44:54, respectively. Amy Pla was Overall Female Winner in the 1-mile race. David Ogletree also ran the 4.4 mile race with a time of 24:34 for 5th place in the 20-24 age group, 14th Overall and 1st Tallahassee finisher.
The Overall, Masters and Team awards were sculpted metal eagles on large wooden bases while the age group awards were nicely painted ceramic mugs. The post-race party was great as usual, featuring live music and dancing, and making this the race to liven up your next Memorial Day weekend!
Docter-Williams revs up Post Race Party
By David Yon
Gate to Gate is a terrific race for a number of reasons, but one of the best is the post race party. Sarah Docter-Williams is an outstanding runner, winning her second straight Gate to Gate. But defending her title was not the most impressive accomplishment in this year’s race. The thunder and lightening that crashed around Eglin Air Force Base and delayed the start of the race, also pushed the post race party under a shelter. Now, Jones and Co (the band) was unfazed and blasted their usual quality tunes. But the runners were a little wet and slow to let the spirit move them. So, Sarah jumped into the breach, demonstrating why she is GWTC Social co-chair, and got the crowd going with a foot stompin’, hip jivin’ display of good old fashion fun. Within minutes the dance area was full! Next thing you know the Captain Fun Runners will be inviting her to join their group.