By David Yon


As I sat at the end of Pelican point in the home of Nick and Barbara Yonclas listening to the rain fall and the wind howl and watching the water roll in from the bay to within one foot of their drive way, I was having second thoughts about running in 1999’s first grand prix event. Saturday brought the winter’s worst weather. However, on Sunday the clouds scattered and the sun sparkled down on the bay by the time the race started at 1:00 p.m. The view for the runners cresting the bridge on highway 98 was spectacular. On the way out a huge blue sky and a shimmering bay lay in front of the runners. On the way back the big blue sky was the perfect back drop for a great view of the rapidly revitalizing city of Apalachicola. 125 runners completed the trek and got a chance to sample beans, rice and shrimp on the porch of the Gibson Inn after crossing the finish line. The race was a benefit for the Apalachicola High School Cross Country program.

Tim Simpkins ran a terrific time of 33:48 on the TAC certified course to win the race and take the early lead in the grand prix series. Breeda Willis ran 20 minutes hard for a workout and then coasted to the finish with husband Lee in 35:44 to take the title of first lady. The bridge and the causeway are a beautiful place to be, but there is a price to pay climbing to the top. This year there was a strong head wind as the runners turned around on the causeway and headed back to town in the 45-50 degree weather. Once over the bridge, the runners continued through town, then back along the water front by landmarks such as Boss Oysters restaurant, under the bridge and through the historic district. The finish was flat, and if you saved anything, fast. 18 runners broke 40 minutes.

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