Times Remembered – Identity Crises

Mary Jean Yon,

Gulf Winds Track Club. Many people are confused by that name. They wonder why we’re called a track club when they see us as a group of people that run (and direct) road races and when we’re not competing for Grand Prix points, we frolic on area trails. And while road and trail activities dominate, the early influence of Florida State University (FSU) track legends like Coach Dick Roberts helped shape the club and can still be seen today. If you don’t believe it check out the Breakfast on the Track Mile and the Summer Track series, both of which are held at the Maclay School track. And then there are Tuesday night intervals which FSU graciously allows us to run on the track at Mike Long Field. No doubt about it. The name still fits.

In addition to running on oval tracks, I like to think of our club as a supporter of track & field teams and track & field events. Such support comes in many forms ranging from the many donations that the Chenoweth Fund has made over the years to helping out with area athletes and facilities. You know where this is going, don’t you?

Somebody needs us! Coach Bob Braman and his men & women’s track & field teams are hosting the NCAA East Regional Championship meet in Tallahassee on May 30-31. I know that feels like ages from now but don’t tell that to Eric Smith. He’s the guy with the FSU Track & Field Officials Association that has asked for our help in staffing the meet and he would like nothing more than to know he has a sufficient number of people on hand to move hurdles, mark throws, rake sand pits, etc. To help set the stage, remember that FSU’s men’s team has won back-to-back NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and enters the 2008 season poised to take their third consecutive title. Coach Braman also thinks highly of the women’s team and hopes for a top ten finish, if not higher, for them. When you consider this level of talent, it’s hard to refuse an invitation to help them out. In addition, the track facilities are undergoing a major upgrade and Tallahassee will be in the spotlight that weekend. If you hear the call and would like to participate, please contact Tom Perkins at tomperkins51@yahoo.com and let him know. It’s guaranteed to be a good opportunity to hang around some really fast runners and see them in action.

If you want to watch a few FSU track meets to get the feel of things, there are plenty of opportunities beginning March 21st with the season opener Snowbird Invitational. All FSU track & field meets are listed at www.gulfwinds.org (2008 College and Prep Track & Field Schedule) along with the dates that high schools and middle schools have events scheduled.

And that reminds me…remember last year when your Board approved a program to offer grants of $300 to promote running in area schools? The idea was to reach out to kids that weren’t competing on sanctioned cross country or track teams but still wanted to run. Tony Brown at Cornerstone Learning Community took us up on the offer and created the Mighty Miler Marathon running program for his students. The grant money was used to buy t-shirts that the students earned by running a measured quarter-mile course on the school campus. Participants run either before or after school or at lunch and keep track of their runs on a wall chart. When they complete a mile, they get a brightly colored star after their name and after 26 stars they get a t-shirt! The shirts were designed by the students and are proudly labeled “Mighty Miler Marathon.” A success story like this is all it took to encourage the Board to continue funding this grant program and plenty of money has been appropriated in hopes of encouraging other schools to establish running clubs. Grants are still limited to $300 per school and will be administered and promoted by Mae Cleveland, who has graciously stepped forward to spearhead this effort. Check out Mae’s contribution to the web page (www.gulfwinds.org) for contact information and more details. Help create a running program at a school you know or just help spread the word. We’d love to have more heart-warming stories like Cornerstone’s to share!

In the meantime, enjoy the many races that will come your way now that the spring racing season is here. This month brings us a club favorite, the Springtime Tallahassee 10K, which is also a Tallahassee favorite. See you there!