Koon and McGuff Traipse the Tannenbaum Trail

Herb Wills, December 21, 2013

Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, ran the first Tannenbaum Trail 6K in 2011. He liked it well enough that he also ran the second Tannenbaum 6K in 2012. On Saturday morning, 21 December 2013, Koon was back at Apalachee Regional Park for the third annual Tannenbaum. This time around the master runner posted a 20:51, his fastest performance yet at the race and fast enough for the win. On the women’s side it was Jodie McGuff’s first Tannenbaum, but the Mississippi State University junior-year cross-country runner won the women’s title, finishing fifth overall in 22:30. Paula O’Neill was the top woman master, placing 25th overall in 28:04.

It was bright and breezy when the race started on the Apalachee Regional Park cross-country course at 9:00 AM. Maclay School cross-country coach Gary Droze set the pace early, with Bryan Koon close behind. Droze and Koon had last met seven weeks earlier on Halloween at the FSECC 5K, a race where Droze won and Koon finished runner-up. Droze had also finished ahead of Koon at the 2011 Tannenbaum6K.

Disregarding history, Koon grabbed the lead. At the end of the first of two loops he was six seconds up on Droze. Over the second loop Koon steadily widened the gap, going on to win the race 20:51 to 21:18. Michael Martinez was third overall, running 21:38. Travis Covert moved up during the second half of the race to finish fourth in 21:55.

Fourth place during most of the race, however, had been held down by the women’s leader, Jodie McGuff. McGuff may not have raced the Tannenbaum Trail before, but she was more than familiar with the Apalachee Regional Park course. As a runner on Chiles High’s 2009 state champion cross-country team, McGuff had raced in the first competition ever held at ARPXC, the 2009 FSU Invitational. She had also turned a 21:49 6K on the course in the 2012 NCAA-D1 South Regional Cross-Country Championship. Looking ahead to her senior year cross-country season, McGuff could expect to race again at ARPXC, the slated venue for the 2014 NCAA-D1 South Regional. The experience of another 6K race on the course couldn’t hurt.

From the start McGuff led the Tannenbaum women’s field. Renee Cox trailed, followed by McGuff’s onetime teammate at Chiles, University of West Florida junior-year cross-country runner Kelly Bahn. Midway through the race McGuff was still in front of the women’s field, running fourth overall, but Bahn had moved ahead of Cox to take the second women’s spot. Over the last mile McGuff lost a place in the overall standings, but built up a lead of nearly 400 meters over Bahn, winning the women’s competition with a 22:30. Bahn was the women’s runner-up, finishing 10th overall in 24:04. Third in the women’s standing went to Cox, 16th overall in 25:27. Urska Dobersek was the fourth woman finisher, 20th overall in 26:43. Paula O’Neill was the fifth woman finisher and first woman master, 25th overall in 28:04.