The 2012 Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic – a Great Year for the Rookies!

We always ask on the entry form: “Is this your first ultra?,” for it seems that more and more of our racers are choosing the TUDC for just that reason. As Race Directors, Peg and I are honored that this is so, for as they say, “You never forget your first time.” But, the TUDC is also the place where people come to run fast, and in the 32nd annual running, we had some who did that as well. And then there were those who were both: newcomers to the ultra distance and fast to boot!

The 50M race featured three men who ran fast – very fast. For the first time since 1999 the top three finishers broke the 7 hour barrier. They smashed it, seemingly feeding off of one another the entire day. Gainesville, FL’s Ferit Toska, running his first 50M, trailed the defending champion, Jacksonville’s Sung Ho Choi, for the first half of the race before grabbing the lead. The race was far from over as both Choi and eventual second place finisher and Master’s winner Dave Carver from London, Ontario hung on gamely, making Toska push the pace the entire way. In the end, less than 5 minutes separated the three of them with Toska breaking the tape in 6:34:53. 51-year old Carver’s 6:36:28 was only three minutes off the Canadian 50-54 AG record and smashed the TUDC 50-54 50M mark that had stood for 10 years.

The runaway women’s winner was last year’s Masters champ, Tallahassean Chrissy Coutts, who knocked 23 minutes off of her 2011 time and finished 5th overall in 8:16:09. Chrissy ran a great race – steady all day – and looked as good the last mile as she did on the first one. The 2012 Masters winner was another local, Birgit Maier-Katkin, who finished second in 9:22:27.

Wheelchair racer James Heath of Kingsland, GA made his way around the 8 loop 50M course in 5:36:16 and looked like he could go out and do it all again at the finish.

The 50K winner was another first time ultra distance racer, and he came away with a wire-to-wire win – Gulf Winds Track Club’s John Robida from Tampa. John’s 3:44:50 eclipsed a fine effort by another rookie, Tallahassee’s Geb Kiros who ran a 4:02:44. Like John’s, Geb’s Masters award winning effort was a joy to watch for he has only been running for a few years. My guess is that we have not heard the last of Mr. Kiros down at Wakulla Springs!

The lady’s winner, Ruth Levy of Jacksonville, kept the newbee string going and finished 3rd OA in 4:09:08. Ruth never faltered all day and was strong to the finish. I hope we hear more from her in the months and years to come – especially at the TUDC. 56-year old Bess Anderson of Tampa beat all of the youngsters over 40 to capture the Masters title with a time of 5:06:48.

It is apparent from the above that what I said at the onset about first-timers is well supported. In fact, of our 90 starters, 37 were running their first ultra. The times at the top of the results reflect that a number of you ran fast – real fast. The 85 finishers tied the 1988 TUDC record for the highest number to ever cross the line.

Peg and I and the many GWTC volunteers appreciate that you chose to spend a Saturday early in your holiday season with us at Wakulla Springs State Park. We hope that you will consider doing the same on December 14, 2013 when we will do it all again. When you register next year you’ll be able to enter a bold “no” in answer to the question, “Is this your first ultra”!

Gary Griffin, Race Director