Summer Track Series
Maclay Track, Tallahassee, FL
By Lisa Unger
Summertime in Tallahassee means heat, humidity and 8 weeks of the Summer Track Series that began on June 3, 2004. Each week there were 6 events run with one event classified as the GWTC Summer Grand Prix feature event. The Grand Prix events began with the 100 meter sprint and increased in distance each week up to a 5k distance race. There was also a monitored long jump pit and a 4 X 100 or 4 X 200 each week. The success of this series was assured by the cooperation of dedicated volunteers such as Tom Perkins, Casey Perkins (long jump), Perry Shaw, Bill Lott, Allison Eagen, Meredith Fraser, Allison Kuhse and Jeremy Conger who coordinated heats and called times. This year the series was very well attended and some of the earlier weeks entertained more than 200 participants of all ages and club affiliations. We saw bus loads of kids from local running clubs such as the Capital City Christian Cruisers and the Top Speed Track Club, as well as the children and grandchildren of GWTC members who laced up their running shoes and turned it loose on the track. The youngest GWTC competitors were Luke Ceci and Alex Bowman, both 4 years old and the oldest competitors were Margarete Deckert (70) and Robert Morris (72). There’s not much in running that is cuter than 8 or 10 toddlers “running” the 40 yard dash. Most of them had no idea what they were doing or why, but they saw momma or daddy at the end and just charged! The squeals of delight and pride issued by the tots when they received their ribbons warmed the hearts of all who observed. There was also some heated competition amongst the adult set as the weeks passed and Grand Prix points were accumulated, which culminated with the very intense 5k competition.
The first week was the most well attended session as kids and adults alike came together to test their sprinting abilities with the 100 meter dash. However, there were only 21 GWTC runners present for the Grand Prix event, the 100m dash. The GWTC competitors included 8 girls under 14, 4 women, 5 boys under 14 and 4 men. Samantha Fortunas (13) was the GWTC female winner in 00:15.0, followed closely by Allison Clarke (12, 00:16.0) and then Kirsten Baggett (37, 00:16.2). The GWTC men presented a much different field with Bill Tharpe (55) covering the 100m in 00:12.4, followed by Hobson Fulmer (48, 00:12.9) and Dave Rodgers (49, 00:13.6). Week two saw an increase in GWTC participants with a total of 33 runners represented by 7 girls, 6 women, 9 boys and 11 men. The Grand Prix event was the 200m dash and Lily Williams (10) was the fastest female in 00:31. Next was Samantha Fortunas (00:32) and Kirsten Baggett (00:34). The GWTC male winner was Doug Covert (40) in 00:25, followed by Hobson Fulmer (00:26.0) and Bill Tharpe (00:26.1). The Grand Prix event for week three was the 400m and there was a slight decrease in GWTC runners. Of the 31 GWTC competitors there were 11 girls, 6 women, 8 boys and 6 men. This was the first event that the female winner was over 14 as Kirsten Baggett circled the track in 1:17.0, with Samantha Fortunas hot on her heels in 1:17.5, followed by Stephanie Liles (32) in 1:19.0. Barrett Haga (25) took the mens’ win in 1:00.4. Next were Jay Silvanima (43, 1:03.0) and Bill “Mr. Exacto” McGuire (57, 1:03.5). GWTC attendance dropped again for week four when the 800m was the Grand Prix event. There were only 9 GWTC female runners and Kirsten Baggett took the win in 0:2:54.23, followed by Stephanie Liles (0:3:02.35) and Cecelia Williams (8, 0:3:07.39). 14 GWTC male runners started the 800m, and Justin Dickieson (19) won in 2:15.10, followed by Doug Covert (2:17.10) and Barrett Haga (2:21.26). In observance of the 4th of July holiday, the Summer Track Series took a week off between weeks four and five.
Week five saw a resurgence of GWTC runners and marked the beginning of the distance track events with the 1 mile. Presumably, many GWTC runners used this event as a tune up for the Breakfast on the Track 1 Mile event. 15 females started the mile and Stephanie Liles won in 5:54.0, followed by Kirsten Baggett (6:11.0) and Fran McLean (46, 6:15.0). David Yon beat the 20 other men in 5:09.0 with Reid Vannoy (45, 5:11.0) and Brian Corbin (36, 5:12.0) closing out the top three. The 2 Mile event was run by only 13 GWTC athletes. The female series leader Kirsten Baggett finished in 13:58 followed by newcomer Whitney Alexander (13, 15:46) and veteran series participant Beth Alexander (39, 16:35). Hobson Fulmer enjoyed his first win of the series in 12:06, followed by Andy Roberts (37, 12:28) and Gary Cato (48, 13:00). The 5k event on week 7 attracted 21 GWTC runners. The 5k Grand Prix event was run simultaneously with the 1 mile all-comers event and looked like mass confusion as runners started from different points on the track. The 5k lead group very quickly established themselves as 10 men worked together for the first half of the 3.1 mile distance race. But by the mid point of the race the front runners started to fade and the eventual winner began to overtake the pack in an effort to control the lead. Andrew Wills (39) made his move at about lap 9 as he left the pack and never looked back. By the final lap Andrew strided to more than 100m ahead of the subsequent runners to claim the win in 18:11. Next in was David Yon (18:32) and then Felton Wright (46, 18:57). With only 6 females competing, Kirsten Baggett had no trouble winning in 23:21, followed by Lisa Echeverri (38, 25:19) and Beth Alexander (27:12).
The last week of the Summer Track Series Grand Prix competition was called the Wildcard event and allowed GWTC runners to choose the event in which they wanted to try to score points. Runners’ times in their chosen events would be compared to the times of the runners in that same event as previously run in the series. If the week 8 runners performed better than the runners in the original race, they would score points accordingly. Some GWTC runners used the wildcard as an opportunity to make up an event they had missed earlier in the season, while others tried to beat their previous time for the same event. After running in the heat of late July, runners of all ages were glad to cool of with the ice cream provided by GWTC Social Coordinator, Jimmy Kalfas, as part of the Ice Cream Social sponsored by the club. The 2004 Summer Track Series was a lot of fun for participants and spectators alike. New friends were made and fierce competition was sparked. Surely, all who attended any of the sessions would agree that Summer Track, in whole or in part, is a Rave Run.