Pine Run, Bainbridge, GA
By Lisa Unger
There are more rocks than in a stone quarry, ruts, roots, hills and red Georgia clay along a 12.4 mile course. That about sums up the 27 year tradition called the Pine Run. The 20k of tough terrain has been conquered by a few, but many come away saying maybe next year. The folks at International Paper and the Southlands Experimental Forest, however, have been getting it right for almost three decades. The staging area is a large pavilion that seemed very accommodating for Peg Griffin, Jo Lena Pace and the others working the registration table. A large overhead banner marked the starting line, while Bill Lott and Stacia Keller were an especially welcome sight at the finish. The course has permanent wooden post mile markers that are easy to see, even near then end when exhaustion starts to play games with runners’ minds. There were well stocked aid stations every 3 miles on the course that were very much appreciated by tired and dehydrated runners, especially near the ninth mile mark. This year the morning air felt crisp and almost cool with moderate humidity but luckily no rain. Fall wild flowers were blooming in hues of gold and purple and the serenity of wooded path made the trek at least beautiful to look at, even if the rising hills and loose rocks were beating runners’ feet and legs. And of course, the runners all knew when they finally reached the end of the trail they would be entertained by Bill McGuire playing his acoustic guitar and singing familiar songs.
The first runner to complete the course this year was Dave Guerra in 1:23:01, followed very closely by David Yon, who covered the course in 1:23:23. Jack McDermott and Reid Vannoy also covered the course in less 7 minute miles, which is quite impressive considering the intensely challenging terrain. Jane Johnson personified athletic excellence as the first female finisher in 1:31:55. Kate Remillard also awed the crowd with her amazing 1:35:24 finish. Of course, everyone who makes it to the end can be proud of their accomplishment, but there were a few notable stand outs this year. Myron Herring ran a very respectable 1:36:50 despite lingering effects of a recent bike crash that required many stitches. It was great to see Myron back on his game. Maria Vives made a very strong showing by completing in 1:51:22, which is almost four and a half minutes better than her time last year. Fran McLean shaved an amazing 24 minutes from her 2000 time by finishing in 1:47:56. Jo Lena Pace ran her inaugural Pine Run in a fine time of 2:02:11, after assisting at the registration table and before computing the complete results.
Runners were blessed with a beautiful sunny mid morning to relax after exerting such a strenuous effort. People gathered on blankets and beach towels that were grouped on a grassy hill as folks enjoyed the atmosphere and replaced nutrients and fluids. After awards were given to the top 10 males and 5 females as well as 2 deep in each age group, the event began to wind down. All that was left was the drive back to Tallahassee. I suspect more than a few of this year’s Pine Run finishers rewarded themselves with a well deserved afternoon nap and a day off from calorie counting. Pine Run 2004 was definitely a Rave Run.