By Bridget Potter

I’m writing this from the side of the road. It’s cold, wet and my thumb is sore. Plus I look terrible so no one is stopping to give a sweet, attractive young woman a ride. You may be wondering why I’m hitching a ride on the back roads of Georgia. Well, it all started something like this.

Once upon a time … Team DarkSide aka Jacque Myers, Bob Fisher, Mike Boll, Kevin Kozlowski, Judy Shapiro and myself decided to run the Panama City Mardi Gras 5K in St. Andrews on January 28th.

I drove over from my parents’ house in Chipley and the rest of the gang from Tallahassee. At 8:00 am we lined up to begin the race and were hit by the wind and freezing rain before the start buzzer sounded.

Scenic houses and views of the Bay kept us distracted from the weather and may have contributed to the police mishap that will forever plague memories of this race.

A local officer turned runners around about 8/10ths of a mile too soon. Halfway through the race, someone realized the big snafu and directed the rest of the runners to the correct turnaround.

Nevertheless, the Gulfwinds group represented well. Mike, Bob, Jacque and I won our age group divisions. Judy came in second in her age group and Kevin won overall male walker.

Judy, Jacque and I also took home top honors for costumes. Before we could say burr! We were off to another race some 2 hours away in Dothan Alabama.

We made a pit stop in Chipley Florida to enjoy the some good cooking at the Chuck Wagon and let the puppies stretch their legs.

Dothan heard us coming and insisted Mother Nature turn on the sprinklers for the Hog Wild Five Mile run. It was scenic and hilly and enjoyed by a few more Gulfwinds runners.

Brian Hickey, Tim Unger and Bill McGuire won their respective age groups. George Palmer and I placed in our age groups for running and Kevin and Jacque also placed in their age groups for walking.

After the race we moved on to Hooters to enjoy the festivities and free beer coupons. As with any event, there is bound to be some miscommunication, and this one was no different. Yes, we all ran five miles this time, but we missed the awards ceremony because we were told it would be at Hooters. Not to worry, we picked up our pig plaques at the restaurant amid the revelry and mayhem.

Now this is the part of the weekend where things get a little hairy. Bob, Jacque and I decided to make a trip to Calloway Gardens to compete in either their half-marathon or 5k races.
We arrived in Pine Mountain prepared for bad weather. It was our weekend curse to withstand the elements and we were holding our own. The ice storm had knocked out the power at Christina and Chip’s but there were no complaints from us. Free lodging on short notice and in a big beautiful house is always welcome.

Jacque cracked her horsewhip and had us crawl out of bed at 5:30. We needed to be at the park by 6:00 to register. We all entered the 5K and headed off to breakfast at a local Huddle House. It must have been the hash browns and omelet talking because hardly before we finished eating Jacque announced she was running the half marathon. She changed her registration before Bob and I could talk her back from the ledge.

The racecourse was so overrun with trees and debris that the race officials postponed the start for two hours. When we were finally allowed to run, the courses had been re-routed for safety. Unfortunately for Bob and me the 5K was about 2/10ths of a mile too long. I would pout, but poor Jacque ended up running a half-marathon course that was measured a full mile too long.

As Bob and I sat patiently waiting for Jacque to complete the half marathon… I’m kidding. Bob and I went back to our host’s now warm house and tasted wine as we nibbled Brie, apples, nuts, and gourmet chips. Not to worry, when we went to pick up a very annoyed Jacque an hour after her race was completed we brought her a beer as requested.
Alas, we were back on the road and headed home for Tallahassee. Now, read carefully, here is the reason I’m writing from the side of the road.

I suddenly remembered that Ocala was hosting its city marathon, half marathon and 5K on Monday. Since we were already in the car, packed and prepared after running three races in 24 hours, I suggested we consider making the trek to Ocala and taking home top honors again.

Jacque brought MY car to a screeching halt, Bob swung open MY door and here I now sit, waiting for someone to take pity on me.

Oh well, what can I say, I had a great time, drove hundreds of miles, and ran in some really fun races. Now, if I could just hitch a ride back home . . .