Marathon History – Dave Rogers Style
If you don’t know Dave Rogers, you have missed a real treat. One of the first members of GWTC (23th to be exact), he is best know for his blazing 100 meter speed, entertaining race starts and bare feet. Like the time he put on a race to raise money for the Miccosukee Volunteer Fire Department. The race was to start when the watermelon he dropped from an ultra light aircraft hit the lake next to the race start area. (Ok so he missed the pond and the race actually started when he radioed a friend to fire a canon.) Or when the Prefontaine 5K started after he burst a balloon on his wife Carmen’s head with an arrow. (Ok, maybe there was a little trickery involved in there somewhere, Dave would never put Carmen in real danger). Or like when he announced “you have to turn and kiss the person standing next to you before starting the race.” He is definitely one of those folks that make me proud to be a member of GWTC, but he can sure go his way at times. These days he has put much work and effort in to making the summer grand prix a top-notch event. Saturday’s breakfast on the track will feature the first annual (or is the ever?) Hamstring Hundred Invitational. Dave has not always been a 100 meter specialist though (Dave ran a 4:36 mile) and below is Dave’s wonderful tale of the Tallahassee Marathon. He gave me permission to share it with our web readers.
The first Apalachicola Forest Marathon was run off Silver Lake Road. To this day it was my fastest of six Forest runs. The next year it was moved to another location in the forest south of town. When I finished that race it was 92 degrees and for the first time I was getting chills during the last 10K. I’m sure I was dehydrated and I should have stopped, but I didn’t. That was it for the directors. They moved the race to a cooler month and chose to pound the pavement of Killearn. I lobbied hard to keep the race in the woods but lost. I actually ran in the first Killearn marathon. I borrowed a pair of Sears sneakers from a girl with big feet and took off in the rain with the other runners. By 19 miles the blue dye from the shoes had bled into my soggy socks and I was leaving blue tracks down the road. Those shoes and socks must have weighed five pounds each. The blisters and blood finally took their toll and I registered my only career DNF.
The following year I was determined to return to the forest run I so loved. As an added twist I would run alone, at night, under a bright full moon. Carmen (his wife) met me at various points with orange slices, water and encouragement. At about 17 miles a deer ran out of the woods in my direction. In our mutual surprise, we ended up running down the road nearly side-by-side for fifty yards or so. For just a moment, the deer looked over his left shoulder and seemed to have a fearless curiosity about his new running partner. It was a great experience. As my award for winning the Forest Marathon I took a pine seedling and planted it in my yard.
Today I have six pine tree awards growing in my yard. They are about 35 feet tall now. Some evenings I go out and sit in my tree stand that is propped up against award #4 and recall those wonderful runs. I still can’t imagine preferring to run that race in town. I guess my official marathon days are over. The girl with the big feet and blue shoes from Sears moved away.