Tallahassee Marathon and Tallahassee Half Marathon

Date: February 2, 2020

Location: Start: On Monroe Street in front of the courthouse under the giant moss-covered oak tree

Finish in College Town, next to Madison Social

The Tallahassee Marathon has been a constant force here since March 8, 1975 when it started with humble beginnings and two runners on Natural Bridge Road.  Since then, it has also started at Silver Lake, Campbell Stadium, Killearn Estates, Wacissa Springs, Tallahassee Nursery and the FSU Track.  It has been flat and it has been hilly.  But it has always been carefully tended to with great volunteers and quality race directors. The Tallahassee Half Marathon was first run on February 11, 1984. One hundred and forty nine runners finished the first Tallahassee Half Marathon.

Prior to Jay Silvanima’s debut as race director in 2007, the most runners to finish the marathon was 129 in 2005. Jay believed the marathon could grow however and he set to work making that happen.  Over the next few years, he signed Nancy Stedman up to help him (and be his wife) and together they grew the marathon to its largest number of marathon finishers (359) in 2014 and three years in a row with over 300 finishers.  The marathon made extensive use of the paved bicycle trail to St. Marks during these years and started and finished at or on the FSU Track, running along side Doak Campbell food ball stadium.   Jay and Nancy also pushed the half marathon to new heights, crossing the 600 number in 2011 and reaching a high of 728 in 2013.

After Jay and Nancy decided to step down, Jon Manry and Eric Godin stepped up to direct the 2016 edition. They decided it was time to bring the race downtown and create maximum exposure for Tallahassee.   A brand-new course fulfilled their goal of showing off all of Tallahassee, including its “rolling hills.”  Before the marathon rolled around however, Jon had to step down as director.  Elizabeth Rosario stepped up and generated an enormous amount of excitement for the marathon. 

The crowds and the excitement in 2016 were great, but the course was really tough. The half set a record for participation, while the full dropped perhaps because of those hills. 2017 was Ely’s solo show as director, although she had a great crew helping. Some of the hills were eliminated from the race to make it faster. The half grew again, but the full dropped again. The race set a record for fund raising. Ely stepped down as director after 2017.

Sheryl Rosen took charge in 2018, working with an experienced race committee. Some additional hills found themselves gone making the races faster again.  That good news was offset by the promise of strong storms blowing through race morning.  And while the hard rain did wait for most of the half runners to finish, it did hit pretty hard while a lot of runners and volunteers we still on the course.  As many as 30 marathon entrants decide to scale back to the half primarily because of the weather.  One hundred and fifty-three hearty souls stuck it out though and finished the marathon.  Seven hundred enjoyed the half marathon.  Many of them listened to the marching chiefs from FSU play music to help them up the final hill.

Plans are already in the works for 2019.  Completion of some park and road areas will make for improvements in the course again, including the elimination of a number of additional hills.  Sheryl will be back as race director.