By David Yon


Can Running, Thanksgiving, Art, Literature and Music mixed together create something special? Many cities have running events that help define or simply reflect their culture. Peachtree 10K in Atlanta, Bay to Breakers 12K in San Francisco and marathons in Chicago and Boston are a few examples. This year, more than ever, the New York City Marathon captured that city’s soul and created an opportunity to reflect on the pain of September 11 and continue the healing process. A running community alone rarely can create the synergy found in these events. These races become part of a city’s character when the pure athletic endeavor is transcended and an idea captures the imagination of the community at large.

Ten years ago Gulf Winds moved one of its fall races to Thanksgiving Day with the idea that this special day, mostly devoid of commercialism and reserved for time to say thanks for the good things in our lives, could be the key ingredient in a formula for creating a special event in Tallahassee. The event has grown steadily since then and 600 to 700 runners participated in each of the last two years. Good, but far short of the potential.

This year, however, there are some special new ingredients. The event has a wonderful new cause and two very special new catalysts. The cause is the Refuge House through the Women with Wings Foundation and the catalysts are Connie May Fowler and Mary Register. Connie is an award winning author who decided her pen could make a difference in the lives of battered women and children everywhere, but especially in Tallahassee. She established the Women with Wings Foundation to support the Refuge House. On Friday November 16, she will join Nashville musicians Reckon Crew in a special premier musical adaptation of her book Remembering Blue at the Monticello Opera House. There will be an encore performance Saturday, November 17, afternoon at the Warehouse on Gaines Street. It is a great time and place to pick up Turkey Trot Race packets as well as hear some great music.

None of this would happen without the energy and enthusiasm of Mary Register. Among other things, Mary has brought WCTV, Channel 6, and Clear Channel Communications, including WTNT, on board as major media sponsors to help get the word out and new people involved. The Friday event has already raised over $11,000 for the Refuge House through many very generous sponsors. Mary has a long history with this race beginning with the days she used to be the main force behind Dean and Jenny Chenoweth’s sponsorship of the 15K.

So, all the major pieces are in place for something very special to occur Thanksgiving week. The one essential ingredient though is you. So mark your calendar to walk or run for the Refuge House, The Shelter, The Kent Vann Partners in Excellence Awards and your community. You have three chances – November 16 at 7:00 p.m., November 17 at 4:00 p.m. and Thanksgiving Day at 8:00 and 8:30 a.m.