By David Yon
Race Directors Jackie and Jerry McDaniel debuted a new venue for the GWTC 30K on Saturday, January 22, and here’s hoping the race has a long life there. The first reviews are all positive. Old Centerville Road is simply a beautiful, almost traffic free place to stage a race. Rest assured, the McDaniel’s were repeatedly cursed by runners climbing to the tops of the innumerable hills on the very tough course. But no one suggested the decision to move the race to Old Centerville Road was a bad one and the turn out was the best in many years as 65 ran the 30K and another 59 the 15K. Flat and fast is not the only race course mantra that works.
Michael Douma led the 30K the entire way, bolting to a lead by running near a 6:00 minute pace for the early miles. That early pace cost him, almost dearly, on the way back as tough terrain and distance caused him to run four minutes slower in the second half. Despite the fact he had to walk a few times near the end, Michael was able to hold on for the win in 2:03:36. David Yon, behind by nearly four minutes at the turnaround, took second place in 2:04:22. Carlos Nordheilm finished third in 2:05:44. The top female finisher was Stephanie Liles who ran an excellent time of 2:09:27. Jane Johnson was second with a time of 2:11:40 and Big Bend High School Coach of the Year, Allison Eagan, grabbed the third spot in 2:13:49.
Chris Holland won the inaugural 15K with a time of 58:51. He and Tim Unger ran to the turn around together, before Chris began pushing the hills on the way back and opening up a lead. Tim broke the one hour barrier with a 59:59 finish, while Sarah Docter-Williams grabbed the third spot overall and first female place with a time of 1:00:30. Seeley Lovett was next woman at 1:04:48.
It is my belief that after floundering for a few years, the 30K is back “as good” and maybe “better” than ever. I always thought the Wildlife Refuge was a special place (and still do), but the Old Centerville venue is an excellent substitute. Thanks to Jerry and Jackie for all their great work making it happen! And a special note of thanks to Warren Emo, who found the key to open the door at the Retreat!