Ready to Lace Up?

David Yon, May 17, 2021

Racing eases back for summer with track series, Melon Run

Racing is back. The June calendar is full!

Yes, smiles are popping up everywhere and COVID’s strangle hold is broken.

I am not suggesting that there are not still reasons to be careful. In fact, people are still contracting the virus and dying from it. But those numbers are dropping, and fully vaccinated people are able to return to activities, especially outdoors, with a much-reduced risk of infection and transmission.

The City of Tallahassee, after a long freeze on permits for races, no longer requires submission of a COVID-19 safety plan to receive a permit. And while it seems too late to save the 2021 Springtime 10K/5K races, the month of June is packed with at least 10 opportunities to race. For more details see

After a slow “drip” of races, there is an explosion of opportunities. While I am thrilled to see the calendar so full of opportunities, I also think it makes sense to view racing as being in a transition phase. Race organizers and participants should move cautiously as they decrease or remove COVID protections.

Precautions still prudent

I think wave starts and other social distancing practices are prudent even if no longer required. Vaccination data continues to show the vaccines are effective and if everyone was vaccinated, we could be in the “no worries” zone. But common sense suggests if you do not feel well on race day you should not put your friends at risk – stay home.

There are two major groups of people who have not been vaccinated – those who refuse to get vaccinated and children who fall into an age group that has not received sufficient testing to know it is safe for the group to be vaccinated.

Of course, there are others that are still simply hesitant or have other medical conditions to consider. But the two major groups are shrinking and they still warrant the need for caution by race directors and organizers.

For some good information visit the Center For Disease Controlwebsite and for the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) website.

Summer Track Series returns

The month of June kicks off with the return of the Summer Track Series. We all owe a big thank you to Maclay School for opening its track facilities to the public for the Summer Track Series by Gulf Winds Track Club and the City of Tallahassee – Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs.

COVID disrupted this series in 2020, but starting June 3, every Thursday evening through July 22, except for the week of

the 4th of July, the fun resumes. Distances start at 40 yards and increase through 5K. The meets start at 6:45 p.m. at the Maclay School Track.

The Great Potluck Bash 4-Miler will be held on June 5 this year. This event was also cancelled last year. Normally the race is run in the evening and is followed by a potluck dinner. The best high school athletes are recognized for their contributions to the sport of track and field and cross country.

As one last deference to COVID-19, there will not be a dinner or award ceremony this year, but there will be racing on the trails of Elinor Phipps Park starting at 8 a.m. in the morning. Runners must remove their watches before the race begins and then try to run as close to their predicted time as possible. The winner is the person with the most accurate prediction.

Opportunities for young runners

The SMIRFs and Striders program will return starting Tuesday morning, June 1, from 7:45-9 a.m. and will continue through July 30, 2021. This Summer Running Program is sponsored jointly by Gulf Winds Track Club and the City of Tallahassee — Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs.

The program’s goal is to provide opportunities for students in elementary, middle school, and early high school to improve their running skills and endurance during the summer months. The program is recommended for students age 8 and above. Drop-off and parking are at the Meadows Soccer Complex located at 701 Miller Landing Road.

The Melon Run 5K is also back on the calendar this year for June 19 and organizers are hoping to draw a good turnout. I have the Paul Hoover Memorial Freedom Run 5K high on my list of races to run, which is scheduled for June 26. It is a good opportunity to enjoy Wakulla Springs State Park.

It really is good to see things cranking up. Here is hoping it all comes together for a great summer of racing – with a lot of smiles.