Race Directing – Doing it Right.
About four years ago Grea Bevis began exploring the possibility of directing a race. During a mission trip to the Himalayan Mountains near Chambi, India in 2004, he recognized that there was also a need to help out in his own community. He knew he had a great support system and starting location at his church, the Thomasville Road Baptist Church. He and I got together to talk about the challenges of putting on a race and I mentally noted Grea had an extremely organized approach to gathering information and translating it into effectively putting on a race. Among other things, I wanted to make sure he understood it was a lot harder than it looked and that most new races do not draw big crowds and do not raise much money. Directing a quality race is a lot of hard work and requires great attention to detail. While runners generally are a “get along” group, it only takes one thing such as a corner not marked correctly, a power outage, a dropped spindle of finishers’ tabs or any number of seemingly little things that can happen and major havoc can erupt. Grea was not discouraged though and he launched on a mission, the Thomasville Road Baptist Church 10K, that has produced a race that exceeds all expectations just four years later. The upside of course, is that when a dedicated person does take on the reins of race director they can make some good things happen; it is a special feeling when those first runners have successfully navigated a course and found their way to the finish line.
The first year (2006) 143 runners completed the 10K course. The next year a 5K was added and a total of 290 runners finished. Last year the numbers grew again with 327 finishers. This year saw the biggest jump yet with over 600 registrants and more than 480 finishers last Saturday. The church is the perfect host with a cadre of volunteers and a nice facility to host registration and the awards ceremony. With the help of Dana Stetson, Grea designed challenging 10K and 5K courses that get positive results from runners. This year’s race proceeds went to benefit the Florida Baptist Children’s Home and the Debbie O’Brien Scholarship Fund raising more than $15,000.
The 10K was also the fourth GWTC grand prix race of the year. David Altmaier has been dropping big chunks of time and on Saturday dismantled the rest of the field winning the race in 34:14 and moving him in to a second place tie in the grand prix standings. Vince Molosky grabbed second place in a time of 35:04 finding a way to get past John Robida who took third in 35:06. Tim Unger took the top masters spot with a time of 37:12. Ten runners managed to break the 40 minute mark on the tough course. On the women’s side, Kelsey Scheitlin took the title as she finished in 41:38. Olivia Swedberg was second in 42:27 and Mary Anne Greason finished in 43:42 to win the masters title.
Trevor Touchton, listed as 13 years old, won the 5K in a time of 19:38. Ned Luczynski represented the “established” crowd as the 51 year old runner took second place in 20:10. Autumn Warble, another 13 year old finished top female in 22:37. Paula O’Neill was next and first master with a time of 24:22.