Hall of Fame: Felton WrightPresented by David Yon
I have run more miles with this person than any other, almost 20 years of running together. So, yes I am a bit biased and extremely pleased about this presentation. When you run that many miles with someone, you get to know a lot about them. What I have learned about this person shows he is a most deserving inductee into the GWTC Hall of Fame. For example:
1. He is extremely loyal to family, to his son and his wife;
2. He is extremely loyal to his friends, always willing to lend a hand;
3. He is silent about himself – you would never know what a rock he has been for the club. So let me tell you about a few things:
In 1974 he ran the first community road race ever held in Tallahassee and placed in his age group (16-17);
In 1975, the year GWTC was born, he finished sixth in the Natural Bridge 7 mile run – one of the first club races. He has been running, directing and winning club races ever since, covering all distances. Among his best was a 1:46:58 30K in 1985. He has been under 16:00 minutes in the 5K and 2:40 in the marathon. He once held the under 18 national age group record for the marathon based on his performance at the New Orleans Marathon.
He has twice overcome prolonged and serious illness or injury to return to an outstanding level of running.
He helped established and directed the Tallahassee Ultra – turning it into a national class event in the early 80’s. His wise directorship included an outdoor hot tub for the runners.
When the club was struggling with its identity and organization he stepped forward to serve on its first Board of Directors in 1981 and then became Treasurer in 1982.
In 1985 he was GWTC’s Runner of the Year. The opening lines that year of Rod Anderson’s presentation stated that “In many ways the male runner of the year has grown up with Gulf Winds Track Club.” If that was true then, it is also true that he has matured with the club. While research time ran out for me to confirm it for sure, I feel confident he has run in as many club races and scored in as many grand prix races as any other member. No doubt he has placed in nearly every grand prix year it has been held.
He has been a long time supporter and sponsor of the Newsletter.
In 1989 when the club was in serious financial trouble, he was one of the first people then club president, Ray Hanlon, turned to for help in developing a plan to put the club back on solid footing.
He has continued to direct and help put on numerous events, but in 1998 he went to the opposite extreme from the Ultra and created the unique “Breakfast on the Track Mile” – and along with the rest of his family has directed it ever since. The emphasis has been heavy on kids’ participation.
He has been an integral part of the club’s growth into triathlon events. Among other efforts he and Bonnie stepped forward to direct the Red Hills Kids Tri.
He was always there as a confident and friend when I served as president, ready to help or give sage advice.
He has NEVER asked to be in the limelight.
So remember what those criteria for Hall of Fame are: Individuals who have brought respect to the Gulf Winds Track Club through their contributions, activities, and running accomplishments, and who have played a major role in shaping the ideals of the club…So while I could go on for much longer, it is pretty clear cut that this year’s inductee is more than deserving.
I started by talking about the importance of family to this year’s inductee and I would like to close that way. If you look at the first volunteer of the year award winner in your program, you will see our inductee’s mother’s name, Beth Wright. In addition, one of our inductee’s joys has been to pull out his father’s running diaries and compare his times to his father’s times at various ages as our inductee arrived at each age. His respect for what his father accomplished has certainly grown with each new year. Those times, and many other wonderful qualities, were good enough to get Leitch Wright into the GWTC Hall of Fame and now I am honored to introduce to you the first son of a member of the GWTC Hall of Fame for induction, Felton Wright. Thanks, Felton for all you have done for me as a friend and for GWTC.