No place to hide – Breakfast on the Track
By David Yon
I am a fan of having the mile and the Ultra on the grand prix every year or at least every so often. (Aren’t you glad I never have more than one vote in that decision?) Which do you think people fear the most? Not so long ago, I would have said the mile. When the Wrights first put this race on in 1998, I saw more terrified faces than I could ever remember seeing down at Wakulla Springs. It is an event that is contrary to most of what we learn as distance runners. Aside from being on a “track” where every step can easily be viewed; to run it well, you have to turn off all of those instincts that say “that is too much oxygen debt” and go for it. You have to cross that red line and then see how long you can run on the other side. But you can’t go too far, or you will still pay a terrible price.
Having said that, eight years of quality productions by the Wrights have given more and more runners the courage to step on the track and give the four lap event a go. In fact, two hundred and two finishers, more than 90 of them under the age of 20, made for a record crowd this year at the Maclay track. I guess numbers like that shoot holes in my theory about which distance is the scariest. But working the finish line, I still heard lots of stories of anguish. And I also saw lots of pretty big smiles.
North Florida Christian runner Whitney Strickland had the right octane level to win the first heat and post the fastest time of the day, 4:47.58. The fifteen year-old led five runners to a time of 5:00 or faster while pulling away them all for a convincing win. Michael Martinez represented the geriatric group with a fast closing final 400 to move into second place with a finish of 4:53.07. It was the sixth fastest masters time ever run in this race. Jay Wallace also broke the 5:00 barrier at the age of 42. Seven of the top ten were 20 years old or younger. Of course, I am just as happy to report seven runners in the 70 plus (three 80+) group. Among the most impressive performances of the meet had to be Rex Cleveland’s 6:48.49 and John Rakestraw (6:59.37), not bad for a couple of 67 and 69 year old youngsters. John, we will be looking for a sub 7:00 after your 70th!
On the women’s side Sarah Docter-Williams ran 5:09.85 to win her seventh Breakfast on the Track. She now has broken 5:10 five times in this event and has the top seven fastest miles for women. Cheryl Rosen was the second women with a time of 5:19.22, good enough for the ninth fastest time ever in the event.
There were of course a ton of pancakes and great awards after the race. It took nine heats to give everyone their fair shot of getting their best time, but Felton, Bonnie and Jamie pulled it off again.