January Cat Bird Seat
By David Yon
Running 50 miles gives one a long time to think. As the quadriceps muscle tissue is ground from sinew to pulp by the thousands or millions of foot strikes on pavement, there is plenty of time to look around and observe just what a heroic effort it takes to stage the Ultra Distance Classic. Fred and Margarete deserve many thanks for their efforts as race directors, as do all of the volunteers who arrive at 6:00 a.m. and do not leave until long after noon. The last runner was still grinding out the miles almost 12 hours after the start gun went off. John Dunn and John Kalin worked into the night trying to bring relief to those battered bodies. There is a very special bond created between runner and volunteer in this race as the runners lap the course time after time and are greeted enthusiastically by lap counters, aid station workers, and a host of others each lap. While the event never attracts a huge crowd (there were around 50 participants this year), it is a unique, well-run event that the club should be very proud of sponsoring. In a day when so much of the world revolves around lookalike malls and new fads, it is fun to support and participate in an event that is truly unique and caters a little to the fringe.
This year’s Turkey Trot race saw the biggest crowd (485) since the race moved to Tram Road and Thanksgiving Day. It was great to watch two outstanding high school runners, Michael Joanos and Anne Johansen, win the 5K. As far as I know this is a first. Michael’s win was especially appropriate as his father, Manny, was very instrumental in our gaining access the fair grounds to stage the race. Michael runs for Leon and finished 13th in the class 5A state cross championship. Anne, who finished 13th in the class 3A championship, runs for Maclay’s state championship team. It demonstrates there is a strong base of young runners in the Big Bend Area.
This year’s Turkey Trot race featured the debut of the Kent Vann Partners in Excellence Awards. These awards were a serious of scholarship awards that recognized various levels of participation by local elementary and middle schools. Kent, of course, was a track club member who died of cancer several years ago. He was a steady source of pictures and of a never-ending fountain of laughs and warm feelings for those who shared his company. The winners of the Kent Vann awards were (1) Most food for food drive – North Florida Christian ($250), (2) Most participants for middle school – Cobb ($400), (3) Most participants for elementary school – DeSoto Trail ($400). Brian Corbin and Judy Alexander have agreed to oversee these awards next year and I expect participation to really take off as a result.
Welcome to Paul Hoover and Tom Perkins, our two new board members. As far as I know this is Paul’s first time on the board. Paul is an outstanding runner who usually turns around to greet the second fastest masters runner after he finishes a race. Tom Perkins has done time before and you have probably seen him directing or working a race somewhere during the year. His most famous project is The Cookie Run – a great way to support the girl scouts and to pick up a truck load of cookies. We will miss Fran McLean and Jere Moore and thank them for their contributions last year. I know they both will remain active contributors to the club.
The first Grand Prix event of 1999 is the Apalachicola River Bridge 10K. I really hope you made plans to make the trip to this race. Hobson Fulmer, the race director, has done a lot for running in the Apalachicola area and has begun building a strong high school program through the Tates Hell Track Club. I know it is a long drive, but a 1:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon start will let you sleep in and still get to the race in plenty of time. I believe it is important for our club to help support efforts like Hobson’s in nearby communities. So, hopefully no one will get too upset over the drive. In any event there is some beautiful coastline and great food along the way! A special thanks goes to the Tallahassee Democrat for its recent coverage of running events. We, like everyone else, believe our events do not get enough coverage. There were 4 or 5 articles on Turkey Trot (including almost complete results the day after), reasonable coverage of the state cross country season and more. The Tuesday column continues give Fred Deckert and others a forum once a week. St. Clair Murraine has been a good friend and spent a lot of time researching and writing stories. If you see things you like, let the paper know. Of course do not be shy about telling them what you want more of also.
GWTC’s support for area high school runners paid off nicely at the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Senior All-Star Cross Country Meet in early December. The six highest area finishers in the Pan Handle Championships were given support to participate, under the supervision of Gary Droze in this meet. Marianna standout Cedric Gillette was the overall boys winner, running the three mile course in 15:54. Elizabeth Wester was the 2nd overall girls finisher with a time of 19:03, good enough to lead the northern girls team to a 27 point win.
Charlie Yates did a very nice tribute to three GWTC friends. Hopefully, you will find his letter elsewhere in this edition. His contribution to the Chenoweth Fund was a great way to remember these people. The awards ceremony is February 1, so mark it on your calenders and join us. The Marathon is looking like a first class event again with a new enthusiastic sponsor in Tallahassee Nursery. If you do not want to go the full distance try the half or the 2 miler.
I hope you found some good things in 1998 and that your trails in 1999 take you somewhere special.