Many names for great 5K


Dana Stetson


Brooksville, The Outback 50K, and The Croom Trail are all different names for the same run. This 50K trail is in the Withlacoochee Forest, an area with many interconnected trails, and has been run for eleven years. For ten of those years, a small running club, The Croom Runners, has managed to produce the race. Every year the race has been directed by one of the five members and every year it has remained great.

For the last couple of years, the race has been designated RRCA State 50K Trail Run Championship. This year it was the first race in an ultra series. The sponsors have varied greatly over the years and even the direction of the run has been changed. But, the main difference in doing this race each year is in yourself.

Tallahassee had four representatives in this race. Two of them certainly earned the right to be noted for their stellar performances. Paul Vecchio is relatively new to Tallahassee, but not to ultras. He has run many ultras, most notably a little number called The Western 100, which he finished in a little over 27 hours. This year at the Croom Run he had the unfortunate luck to end up in a seven man zoom pack that added two extra miles to this race by mile three (in a navigational faux pas of a major magnitude). Even with this added distance as a handicap, he pushed hard through an increasingly hot, technical, two lap tour of the Withlacoochee Forest. The course featured a single track through eve-level weeds, many roots, lots of sugar sand, two dry sinkholes, and as an added treat, three major hills in the last thirty minutes of a two hour loop. Paul finished 20th overall in a time of 5:25 for a 33-mile run.

Our other Tallahassean with a tale to tell, was Gary Griffin, who ran a very evenly paced, jet-lag assisted race. He avoided the misnavigation at the beginning of the race, and just ran his own pace. I saw Gary for the one and only time in this race about 200 meters from the finish. I had in my hand a 1/8-cup of water which I donated to him as he ran up this hilly, rooty, nasty finish climb. He looked at me as he poured the water over his head and said, “I think I’m going to die.” But, the truth was that he never looked so alive, attacking the last little distance and showing me, once again, what toughness is. He finished sixth overall with a time of 4: 21.

These two racers couldn’t be more different. Yet each has adapted a long-run routine that works for them. They show through their examples, that each person should run their own race, with their own specific strategies.