By David Yon
What Tallahassee race has grown by the biggest percentage over the past three years? Turkey Trot you might guess. Well, I have not done the math to say for sure, but if I had to guess I would say the Palace Saloon leads the way. The 2004 edition of the race under the direction of Jeff Bryan and Reid Vannoy just missed the 300 finisher mark with 299 5K finishers. Just two years ago, this race had only 189 finishers. Reid and Jeff have found a way to turn the race’s fortunes around, experiencing the biggest turnout since at least 1999.
Shawn Patterson returned to the winners stand with a winning time of 16:39 well ahead of second place finisher Jasen Flughum’s 17:24. Mother-soon-to-be Breeda Dennehy-Willis grabbed the women’s title with a time of 18:29, while Kate Remillard took second in 18:58. Seeley Lovett had a super performance to take third in 19:51. Masters winners were Paul Morphy in 17:52 and Julie Clark in 21:10. The battles hear looked ferocious as Bill McGuire, the ageless wonder, was awarded the same time as Paul, 17:52 and Fran McLean was just two seconds behind Julie in 21:12.
Some rumors and records call this the 30th annual Palace Saloon. This race has some great history. Another rumor has it that the race leaders missed the turnaround during the first year’s race (1975) at Natural Bridge Road. Certainly, the times in 1975 were nothing special. In 1976 “they” got it right though as the course started at Messer Field and, I think, ran two loops. While I have no idea if the course was certified in 1976, the results produced one of the faster men’s 5K ever run in town. George West beat Ken Misner 14:37 to 14:46. Third place went to John Jennings in 14:49, while fourth went to Lincoln High coach Perry Shaw in 15:03. Just behind him was Herb Wills in 15:05. You can find a lot more familiar names by checking out the results in the club race history section the web page under Palace Saloon.
I am betting that Jeff and Reid will bring us something special for the next race, including more than 300 runners!