Taking the Long Way Home
Runners pride themselves in taking the long way home most often. This weekend covered the spectrum. Of course there are many degrees of “long.” For some, it meant pushing through a “normal” 5K. For others it is running on a “dry” lake bottom. And finally for some it meant traveling to Door County, Wisconsin to run 50 miles.
The most rational option brought out the largest crowd as the FSUCares 5K included over 330 runners on Sunday afternoon, with more than 170 registering on race day. This race served as a goal race for many in Nadine Dexter’s (the driving force behind the race) beginning running class, including Erin Lombardo, who ran a big PR finishing in 31:31. Erin, like most of Nadine’s students, can’t stop raving about her teacher. She summed up the race by stating “tonight was awesome.” The overall winner was Kyle Larson who finished the fast course in 16:35. Stephanie Liles took the women’s title with a time of 19:20. Mike Weyant and Kirsten Baggett were male and female masters winner with times of 19:27 and 21:10. Nicole Courtois, race director and president of FSUCares, was thrilled with the turnout and noted that all funds raised support medical students’ efforts to provide medical services to underserved populations in Florida, specifically Gadsden & Leon counties, and abroad in Panama and the Texas-Mexico border.
The second race, the Victorious Egret 5K, attracted a slightly less rational group and gave 100 or so runners a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a rare natural geological phenomenon – Porter Sinkhole – while supporting Habitat for Humanity. Lake Jackson has essentially been dry or near dry for at least seven years with much of the lake water vanishing through gaping sinkholes in the lakebed. Jane Johnson and Joe Donoghue, our Dr. of Geology, teamed up with others to create a unique experience on the “dry” lake bed for runners. The weather was cool and sunny and the lake bed was beautiful, with wildflowers blooming everywhere, but almost three inches of rain in the days leading up to the race turned some dry spots into wet ground. FSU student Dan Crane won in a time of 18:32 on a very difficult course. Seeley Lovett took time off from writing her tri column to win the women’s competition in a time of 21:02. Tim Unger, second overall, and Julie Clark won the masters competition with times of 20:08 and 25:49.
The truly insane went much further north to Door County, Wisconsin to stumble through 50 miles of some of the most scenic race course miles anywhere this side of Big Sur. There are few people in the world I have more respect for than Gary and Peg Griffin, so when Gary started talking about how special this brand new Ultra was, I listened. The Fall 50 race started in Gills Rock at the north end of the Door County peninsula and worked its way down to Sturgeon Bay which lies about 50 miles north of Green Bay. Door County was packing up for the winter season and everyone but the hardiest were heading south to warmer places. But the peninsular, which sticks out into Lake Michigan and helps create Green Bay, was up for one last spectacular fall show before turning it over to winter. The views of Green Bay were indeed spectacular, but as Gary and I ran together through Peninsular Park along the western shoreline of Door County, the fall foliage was grandiose enough to make us forget the number of miles to be run. The aspen and ash trees were lighted so perfectly by sun rays as to appear to be done by a very gifted curator, splashing just the right light on the art to make it vibrant and bring out every detail. It may be hard to imagine that running 50 miles can be “pleasant.” I certainly don’t mean to imply that it was without pain, but I think we can both say it was a terrific experience as Gary ran a personal best of 7:15:38 seconds and I dipped one second under 7:06.