President's Column -November 2023

Jennifer Hay, Vice President

I grew up going to church. As a teenager, I spent many Wednesdays at confirmation classes and choir practice, and as a kid, Sunday mornings were for bible lessons and playing twenty questions with my friends in the very back pews. I loved our church people. I rarely saw them any other time, but it never crossed my mind they may not be there on Sunday because they always were. We all just showed up. The Sunday school teachers were the same parents year after year, even after their kids headed off to college and other adventures. I now know they had whole other lives as chemical engineers, veterinarians, nurses, dentists, science teachers, lawyers, and community volunteers and leaders. They were avid tennis players, cyclists, gardeners, cooks, and yes, runners. But to me, they were always just the reliable, fun, smart, hardworking church people. I had a flashback to leaving church on Sundays as my husband and co-race director Carter and I were pulling up the last mile markers and the final cones and pink flags at the Pine Run 20K. It’s impossible not to feel some sort of spiritual connection to the nature of Tall Timbers, but in that moment, I realized the people of Gulf Winds are my adult church people. Watching Bill Lott grab the last of the parking signs heading out of Tall Timbers made me a little sad to say goodbye to my GWTC peeps but confident our paths would cross again next weekend (or you know, at a Grand Prix meeting in a couple days). Being in the race production trenches clearly makes me sentimental for the people sharing that space. They are reliable, giving, a wealth of knowledge and experience, a little feisty, and a whole lotta committed. We’re lucky to have a spirited running family of people like that. This club is its people—the parents pushing strollers for their daily runs and exploring trails with their little ones, the retired cross country “kids,” the life-long marathoners, the beginners, the retired/ injured runners still giving back, the triathletes, the women’s running groups, the OGs, the lone wolves. Our diversity, passion, and commitment to showing up is what makes this club work. I’ve never once worried when I pulled into a parking lot at 5:30 a.m. that my running buddies wouldn’t be there. I’ve never worried when tackling a new volunteer project that I wouldn’t have a team willing to have my back the second I needed them. And I bet you’ve pulled up the GWTC race calendar never for a second thinking you might not find any races. (And now you can find a group run—or even create one yourself.) I hope within our club, you’ll find your people. The ones who show up. And I hope you’ll fall in love with them so much you’ll become the group run leaders, race hosts, timers, newsletter editors, board members, fuel station volunteers, and all around cheerleaders that are the backbone of our running community. Don’t take it for granted. Show up.

FROM THE PRESIDENT

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