GWTC Special Award - Never Quit!

Ithel Jones, January 14, 2018

“Never Quit” or give up is a familiar mantra to most distance runners.  I’m sure that many of you in this room are all too familiar with those last few miles of the marathon or ultra, when your body is telling you to stop, and you have to dig deep and not quit.  Then, with each passing year and each nagging injury, we have to push a little harder to chase that elusive PR.  Yet, the sad reality is that there comes a point when PR’s are a distant memory, and our bodies tell us to take things easy.

Time, however, has not slowed down the recipient of this award.  In 2017 this person didn’t quite get a PR at the Breakfast on the Track mile, but posted a best mile time in more than a decade of competing at this event.  Then, at the 5K distance, 2017 saw this individual get ever closer to his PR, finishing in the best time in more than a decade of competing at this distance. In fact, 2017 was a remarkable year for this individual.  In 2017 this athlete ran more than 300 miles of races at every distance from the mile to the 50K; and in doing so managed to pick up several age group awards.  This included several out of town races including an age group win at the Apalachicola Run for the Bay Marathon and the grueling Torreya Park 25K.

Now I’ve only ever DNF’d one time in more than three decades of running.  That was at the Oak Mountain 50K in Birmingham, Alabama.  The recipient of this award persuaded me to run this race, and told me that it was a “little hilly.” Those of you who have run at Oak Mountain State Park know that this is no race for the timid or faint hearted.  Those “little” hills translated into running up a mountain, twice; and more than 4000 feet of climbing!  Yet, in 2017 this individual placed first in his age group at several Oak Mountain trail races including the Blood Rock 25K, the Hotter ‘n Hell Trail Run, and the Memorial Day 12 Miler. What’s even more remarkable is that he is doing this as a septuagenarian! 

They say that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and the recipient of this award certainly keeps going. He is a true example of a lifelong runner, except in this case he has not slowed down with age, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down in the future.  I’m honored to name Carlos Zapata as the recipient of the Never Quit Special Award.