November Cat Bird Seat


By David Yon


I really can’t say when I joined GWTC, but the first Newsletter in my collection is for December, 1982, and my name is on the label, so apparently I was a member at the time. I did not start keeping a running diary until March, 1983, when I recorded a whopping total of 7 and 3/4 miles for the week. I probably had a few false starts and injuries during 1982, including a race or two. I remember finding it very difficult to train consistently during those days, mostly because every step seemed to bring some new ache or injury. Somewhere during late 1983 or early 1984 I moved into the ‘addiction’ phase and it became much more difficult to take a day off than to run.

That Newsletter contained 6 or 7 pages of text and its editor was Steve Griffin. The calendar listed a total of 11 races from December 11 until February 26. Mike Eakin was president and was marveling about the smooth running of the ‘Chenoweth Classic’ (now the Turkey Trot) in his column, thanks to 1,200 people. Mike is in the GWTC Hall of Fame and won a Race Director of the Year award. He seemed to be involved in everything when I first joined the club and always made people feel welcome. I definitely miss having him around.

Our Tom Brown Bash 2.5 Miler has become the ‘kick off’ race for the local schools’ cross-country season, and GWTC and its members actively participate in local school programs. Among the coaches I could identify quickly are Gary Droze at Maclay, Marilynn Wills at Leon, Steve Barraco at Deerlake and Donna Whitworth at Cobb. The Club has helped support events at Maclay, Gretchen Everhart and Holy Comforter and our Board recently voted to help send a group of outstanding high school runners to the Regional Cross Country Championship. Both FSU teams won the Seminole Invitational for the first time I can remember, hopefully indicating a real resurgence in Scott Irving’s program.

Supporting these programs is important because an enormous number of young people participate in them. If we can have better interaction with them now, it is more likely they will keep running and that we can pick up a few members from their ranks. We are collecting results and information on our web pages, and Rex always publishes what information he receives in the Newsletter. I would certainly encourage anyone with information or interest in these programs to send stories and results.

This is my 21st column. Unless someone gets smart and writes in another name for President, you will have to put up with my drivel for a few more issues. When I started, I wanted to give the column a name that reflected something special and a little different. This seems like a good time to explain the source of the title again.

One reason I have been a member of GWTC for so long is that I believe it serves an important role in building a sense of community in our area and making Tallahassee a better place to live. The Newsletter has evolved into sort of the living room or maybe the corner pub in our sub-community where we all stop by once a month to visit and catch up with what is going on, and I wanted a title that reflected that somehow. The ‘catbird seat’ was a phrase made famous by Red Barber while announcing baseball games. Red certainly had a very special impact on this community and an entire national listening audience. Any regular listener of NPR turned their radio on at 7:35 every Friday to listen to Bob Edwards and Red Barber banter. It almost always made you feel like the world was an ok place to be and you would be able to find your way through the jungle. Somehow Barber always seemed to open a window and show you something on the other side that gave perspective to life. Edwards described it best: “He taught us respect for the listener, respect for the language and respect for the truth. To Red, it was journalism, not just entertainment. He taught us when to speak and when to shut up, when to seize the microphone and when to let the game take over.” On October 22, just a few days after I finished this column, six years passed since the day he died. I still think about those broadcasts many Fridays and each time I write this column.

If you miss the Scratchankle Cross Country Invitational Relays & Social, on November 15, well you just ain’t thinking clearly or you got a real important conflict. Ms. Anne and crew have a way of cooking up fun and they live at a fantastic place to make it happen. It is well worth the drive and when folks go to cookin’ for these kind of things, you never go home hungry or disappointed.

Doug Gorton has put together the first GWTC “official” team racing effort. A men¹s and a women¹s team will be competing November 7 at the Vulcan 10k race in Birmingham. Doug has worked hard to put these teams together and deserves much thanks for his efforts.

The elections committee has done an outstanding job of suckering, I mean convincing, people to run for the board. Please do not forget to cast your vote.