Stan Linton Takes Another Step Forward in Portland

David Yon, June 8, 2021

One of the hallmarks of the Tallahassee running community and Gulf Winds Track Club it that it is like a big family. After more than a year of few races and very little activity, derisiveness made its way to the front too often. But families pull together.

In addition to being a very good runner, Stan Linton has remained a force for bringing people together. Some of us have had the good fortune to watch him grow from an OK Wakulla High school runner to an Olympic Marathon trials competitor, to a place on the starting line in the 10,000 meter race in the Portland Track Festival, an elite track and event. He wore a GWTC singlet. Here is our conversation.

Q. On April 23, 2021, you stood alone on the track at Wakulla School with a goal in mind. What was your goal that day? What did it mean to you? Did you reach it?

A. The primary goal was to set the 5K track record. Since there hasn’t been a contested 5K on the track, it was going to be track record regardless. I saw it as a great opportunity to honor the man the track is named after (Paul Hoover). Without Coach Hoover, I would not be the runner I am today. It was a great way to pay tribute to his legacy at Wakulla High. I had some crowd support from some of my Wakulla cross country family, including Myrna Hoover, so that helped a ton. I was also trying to set a personal best time for myself, which I did as well.

Q. On May 28, 2021, you stood in with approximately 30 other very talented runners on the Eldon Fix Track in the Portland Track Festival 10K. What was going through your mind before the race started?

A. A swirl of thoughts rushed through my mind minutes before the race. I thought about the last six months of training and how I ran some of the best workouts of my life. I kept rehearsing the gameplan for the race, which was to move straight to lane 1, latch onto the pack, and get to four miles in a good position. Most of the guys in the field were at or above my ability level, so if I could just hang on, I knew I would get pulled to a fast time. I knew I was ready, so the central thought I had in my mind was “Don’t mess this up.”

Q. Did you think much about the track at Wakulla High? What did you think of the Portland Track festival? How did the race play out?

A. The Wakulla High time trial was not as stressful. I went into the trial knowing I could at least walk away with a track record and run a good time. Portland Track Festival was completely different. Since this was the only race on my spring schedule, I knew I had to make it count. I executed the race almost perfectly in terms of my game plan. I stayed near the back for the first lap and must have been behind 25 runners.

Over the next few miles, I had moved up into the top 10. There were times where the pack would make a move and I would think “Don’t lose contact.” No matter how many moves were thrown, I covered every one of them. We reached four miles in 18:50, which is the fastest I’ve reached four miles into a 10K. Going into the last mile, I caught up with a pack of guys, but didn’t have the wheels to outkick them in the last lap. I crossed the line in 8th place, which was much better than I was expected to finish.

Q. I understand that was a 33 second PR. At your level that is a bunch! Were you surprised?

A. Based on the weeks and months of training leading up to Portland, I knew I could run something between 29:10 to 29:30, but my personal best was still 29:56 from six years ago. For the last six years, I’ve thought to myself “I’m so much better than that.” This year I’ve achieved personal bests in the 400m, 800m, 5K, and half-marathon.

So, when I crossed the line in 29:23, I wasn’t surprised; I was ecstatic. This was the proof that I needed to validate my potential. It was the last personal record I held from my college days. Now I can move forward.

Q. Did you check any of the calculators to see what your new 10K projects for a marathon? McMillan says 2:17:52?

A. For estimating longer distances like the marathon, I would rather use my half-marathon. I ran 1:04:31 for the half-marathon in January, which McMillan estimates as a 2:15:47 marathon. I’m more of a Jack Daniels guy to be honest. His calculator predicts 2:15:28. For the non-runners, I’m referring to the physiologist and not the whiskey! Either way, I’m excited to move back up to the marathon in the next year or two.

Q. One step at a time – What is next?

A. I will be shifting my focus from the track to the roads this fall. I will be racing in the U.S Half-Marathon Championships this December in Hardeeville, SC. After that, I have five weeks to get ready for the U.S Cross Country Championships in San Diego. I am also moving to Memphis, Tennessee, in September, so you will see me racing more in Tallahassee. I am looking forward to taking another crack at George West’s Palace Saloon 5K record on Oct. 9. I hope to see all of you out there!