In the Blink of an Eye


David Yon,


 In the blink of an eye I went from dating my checks 2012 for the first time to realizing the next check will bear the year 2013. And while 2012 slipped by incredibly fast and had many good moments, it was also filled with speed bumps that made the year seem harder than most. I find myself most ready for a new year, optimistic that it will bring new experiences, good health and a better understanding of the world around me.

2013 brings a leadership change in the running community as Felton Wright takes over the Presidency of Gulf Winds Track Club. It seems also like just yesterday, I joined a running club known as Gulf Winds Track Club. Actually, it was the mid 1980s and much has changed since then, but then as now it seems the club remains the main support for running in our community. As outgoing President Judy Alexander can attest, it is a very demanding job.

Felton has deep roots in the Tallahassee running community. He was a very talented runner for Leon High School in the 1970s. He was one of the early members of GWTC, joining in 1976, by his account. He has been a huge part of the club since, – directing races (The Ultra and Breakfast on the Track), serving on the board previously (including most recently as Vice President), Runner of the Year in 1985, Race Director of the year (which he shared with his wife Bonnie and son Jamie) in 2001, and member of the Hall of Fame in 2004. I have had the pleasure of running more miles with him by my side than any other person.

GWTC has grown dramatically since its early days of a couple dozen members and a handful of races attended by a few hardcore runners. Felton noted in his first column in the Fleet Foot (GWTC’s Newsletter) as club President that there were 12,780 finishers in the 16 races the club produced in 2012. Those races and other activities produced more revenue for the club than ever before. There are just under 2000 members in the club. There were many more races that the club provided timing, equipment or volunteers to assist. Felton’s review of the 2012 race calendar revealed 170 races listed. Despite all of this, GWTC is a nonprofit volunteer organization. It has no paid staff or employees. It has an active board of directors that meets every month and participates in club activities. As a result, it has remained well run and very fiscally responsible. It has also looked for ways beyond just running to give back to the community. During 2012 that meant it was able to provide more than $50,000 to other nonprofit groups.

Judy Alexander turns the reigns over after serving for 4 years that were very good for the club. As Felton noted in his column when Judy took over as President in 2008, the club had just climbed to 1116 members. Judy, in addition to serving as President longer than anyone else, almost certainly has put in more volunteer hours than any other President. She has also worked tirelessly to get the club’s message out in the community. She has been a nonstop ambassador for the club and now passes the reigns to Felton with the club in great shape.

Hopefully, this all opens doors for GWTC to carry out its fundamental mission in better ways than ever. Regardless of its size, its mission has always been to promote running and fitness in the Big Bend community and it has done that both through a committed membership base and strong leadership, which includes the Board of Directors. GWTC has adapted to the times, without sacrificing its commitment to its core principles. The club starts 2013 with more resources than ever, more committed members and volunteers than ever and, once again, it has outstanding leadership.