Times Remembered – Beginnings

Mary Jean Yon,


The first time I ever tried running as my sport, it just didn’t work. It might have had something to do with my technique. I’d wait until the evening twilight hours, wolf down dinner and then bolt out the door and around the block as fast as I could go. I doubt I even made it one full week as a runner back then! Years later, I crossed paths with David Yon and started seeing there was more to this sport than I ever imagined. I still remember the night I went out and slowly ran one mile in the neighborhood before dinner and then called David to tell him what I had accomplished. Whoosh! In the blink of an eye, he took me to the mall to buy the right pair of shoes and a running watch to match. It was truly the beginning of a long and wonderful journey!

The importance of guidance and instruction for beginning runners cannot be overestimated. We have many good examples of Gulf Winds Track Club (GWTC) members (and others) coaching our youth through the school system. But let us not overlook the wonders that occur when members like Julie Clark and Nadine Dexter take it upon themselves to teach and train those adults who find themselves drawn to our sport. Julie traditionally teaches two beginning runner classes each year that train for a 10K in the spring and a longer distance in the fall. Nadine, joined by her husband Joe, started by enticing people to do a class and run her FSU Cares 5K and then blossomed into a Boot Camp Queen when her students requested a spring activity to keep the fun going.

Both Julie and Nadine have marvelous stories to tell for how they got involved and it’s interesting to note the connections that emerge. Julie is a former student of long time GWTC member and Past-President (1985) Dot Skofronick who spent many a year teaching beginning runner classes. As Julie came to realize what a great sport running was, she too turned to teaching and spreading the word, one might say. Nadine will tell you she got pulled in when Julie issued an invitation to acquaint others with the joys of teaching. Nadine wandered into this invitation and never looked back.

Now both Nadine and Julie teach classes that can number anywhere from 50 to 100 participants and you know darn well they are leaving their mark on people who will one day credit them with teaching them to run and for being their inspiration. The stories of pounds being shed and miles being covered are memorable in their own right but nothing surpasses recognizing an individual that you feel helped you into this sport.

If you look at the GWTC Constitution you’ll find the official purpose of the club to read as follows: “The purpose of this club shall be to encourage participation in jogging and running, whether for competition, physical fitness, or pleasure; to stimulate the exchange of information about running and to disseminate such information; to encourage individuals to pursue opportunities to compete in races and to provide organized events in which interested individuals may participate.”

Your current Board of Directors has truly taken that message to heart and has been trying to find ways to reach out to people, be they young or old and invite them into the club. The idea that each of us could be that certain somebody to encourage others to run is more than a little appealing. You might have noticed the Dexter’s setting up a membership table at the various races this spring. They’re out there distributing our newly updated membership flier and hoping to entice new runners to come join us. At last month’s Board meeting, a motion was approved to give all GWTC members a discount when they pre-register at a GWTC race. We also decided to order a new crop of bumper stickers and distribute them to new members and existing members in need of replacements. Now hey! If that doesn’t bring more people in, what does?

Another discussion we had was the need for more club socials. You can’t always guarantee that people stick around after a road race so the idea is to see if there are other opportunities for mixing and mingling that don’t necessarily involve running a race. If you’ve got ideas, feel free to whisper them to Kathy Lindsay, our Social Coordinator or any Board member you see. The more ideas we have to work with, the better. And who knows, maybe we can keep that chain of instructors and inspiration going!