The Marathon is coming – Your Help is Needed
David Yon, January 26, 2023
The first weekend in February is almost here and more than 1130 runners are signed up to contest the Tallahassee Marathon, Half-Marathon and relay races. That number breaks down into 822 for the half-marathon, 192 for the marathon and 115 for the relay. The races will be run this weekend on Sunday, February 5. Registration is still open.
The command to start will be given at 7:30 a.m. and the runners will cross the starting line on Monroe Street and head north twisting around the city on roads and bike paths ultimately finishing in College Town. The course makes its way through many memorable places such as the walk way between Houser Stadium and Doak Campbell Stadium.
Generally, the half-marathon is the fastest growing race distance in the United States. There is a good reason for that. The half, which is 13.109 miles long, is long enough for most runners to find reasons to avoid it. It is also long enough, however, to celebrate the accomplishments of finishing one and requires dedication and training that is not necessary to finish a 5K. It does not extract the same toll on the body that a marathon does. Less rest and recovery are necessary to return to racing and training.
Directing a race that runs through the streets of a city is more like running a marathon than a half regardless of the distance. But when the race, in fact, is a marathon it is a huge challenge.
The Tallahassee Marathon has a long history. It was first run in 1975 and the start is best told by Bill McGuire.
“On March 8, (1975) the first annual “Apalachicola National Forest Marathon was held at Natural Bridge Road in Woodville. Unfortunately, a marathon in Tallahassee was an event whose time had not come yet come. Of the modest turnout that day at Natural Bridge chose to run the seven mile race which was held in conjunction with the marathon. This included Jeff Galloway, and a competitor who had travelled from Texas just to run a marathon with the former Olympian. Andy Burns entered the marathon so that the eventual winner John Hargreaves would have at least one person to run with. And that is the way it was. Complete results of the first marathon ever held in Tallahassee. First, John Hargreaves, second, Andy Burns. Obviously, the significance of this event did not lie in the number of participants, but in establishing a local marathon that has been staged every year since.” (Taken from GWTC History Part 1 written by Bill McGuire)
I recognize that is a pretty big ask of a volunteer, but it is the kind dedication that keeps the Tallahassee Marathon going year after year. This year’s heroes are Felton and Bonnie Wright who chair the race committee that puts on the marathon. There are so many moving parts someone could easily make this a full time position. The club relies on dedicated volunteers. Felton and Bonnie did not realize the description chair of the race committee was a euphemism for “Race Director.”
And by the way, in addition to registration still being open, there are still some opportunities to volunteer. Just go to https://signup.com/go/NfLsqxy. Look through the options that don’t say “Full” and chose the time and place where you can help.
There is something very special about running a marathon and running a half. There is also something special about the relationship between a place to live and its marathon. College Town may never reach the star power of Boylston Street in Boston, but I do think it is a pretty good place to finish a Tallahassee Marathon and Half.