Love that Shade in the Summer Time – Zack’s Korner

  When the temperatures start to rise Gulf Winds takes the racing circuit to the trails. While the trails generally offer a little more shade than the road, the footing can be a little more precarious after an afternoon shower has passed through town. Such was the case for this year’s annual Potluck 4-mile race. Taking place at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, the race started with ominous signs of rumbling thunder in the distance as the Race Director signaled the start of the race. Undeterred, or perhaps confident they would beat the rain, 156 runners headed into the woods, beginning the approximately 4-mile trek through some of Tallahassee’s most beautiful terrain.

For the first ¼ mile the course followed the heavily rutted dirt road from Meridian Park toward the Meadow’s Soccer complex. An abrupt left hand turn as you neared the soccer fields led runners to the newly minted Hoover Trail. With promises of hospitality and good sportsmanship the Trail’s mantra promised it was a place “Where people rune the extra mile for each other.”

While the thunder continued to rumble in the distance, based on the conditions of the trail it was clear that Tallahassee was no longer suffering from a lack of precipitation. As the runners careened down a steep descent toward the Coon Bottom Loop, the wet red clay made traction and foot placement important considerations for each stride. After successfully navigating the slippery down hill section runners were greeted with a windy, tree root gnarled, but slightly drier stretch of single track, where passing was an option. Thankfully, the single-track section was short lived and the terrain gave way to a more stable and wider mixed-use trail for the remainder of the race.

Despite the improved footing, the race didn’t seem to get any easier. From the low point on the course, runners were now left to navigate the winding turns and slow climb up to gate A. At least for me, the hills and heat won, and I succumbed to the urge to walk on more occasions than I am willing to admit. With the gate A outhouse in sight runners familiar with the trails at Elinor Klapp-Phipps breathed a sigh of relief as the majority of the climbing was over.
The race director had other ideas, sending the runners back into the woods rather than permitting them the pleasure going left and continuing on the gravel road would more quickly take them to their destination. Straight meant downhill, and the old saying “what goes down must always go up” (maybe this is just the runners’ version of this saying) proved true again. The heat and hills won again.

As I crested the final hill up to the Meadows Soccer complex, I optimistically thought to myself “at least I beat the rain.” Mother nature laughed. Of the 156 hopeful souls who dashed headlong into the woods with the hopes of beating the rain, 55 were successful. Unfortunately, I finished number 56 and received a free shower courtesy of mother nature.

If you missed Pot Luck, but want in on the fun described above, don’t fret, there are plenty more opportunities between now and Labor Day including:
June 23 – Summer Trail Series Race 1 – at Munson Hills. Race starts at 7:30 a.m.
June 30 – Paul Hoover Freedom Run 5k – at Wakulla Springs State Park. Race starts at 8:00 a.m.
July 7- Summer Trail Series Race 2 – at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. Race starts at 7:30 a.m.
July 21 – Summer Trail Series Race 3 – at Maclay Gardens State Park. Race starts at 7:30 a.m.
August 4 – Summer Trail Series Race 4 – at Tom Brown Park. Race starts at 7:30 a.m.
August 18 – Miller Landing Madness – at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park (Gate B). Race starts at 8:00 a.m.
August 25 – Cougar XC Challenge – at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park (Gate B). Race starts at 7:15 a.m.
September 3 – Bluebird Run for Brookie B – at JR Alford Greenway. Race starts at 8:00 a.m.

If #dirtpreferred describes you, Tallahassee and Gulf Winds Track Club has you covered this summer.