Two years – One Closes, and One Opens

David Yon, January 4, 2022

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the end of one year and the beginning of another was a time to be happy and reflect on the joy in running and look forward to good things in life.  It was a time to pat each other on the back for past achievements and to plot new adventures and goals.  “Happy New Year” was an appropriate greeting.

But after 3-4 years of hearing and saying: “I am ready for a new year, it has to be better than this one” only to find out that “yes, it could get worse” and wherein each new year seems worse than the one before, maybe we should retire that greeting.  No, not really.  There is always hope if you can run.

The racing/running community was pretty much grounded for nearly a year in 2020 and 2021. There were plenty of opportunities to run but few races. Like many things in our world today, COVID did its best to send the running world into a downward spiral without an escape route.  But as we know – a runner is going to run.

The year 2022 brings new hope.  All those 2’s have to mean something good. Things started fast with the 28th Annual Wilde Mountain Scramble race on January 1.  That was followed by the Swamp Forest Trail Half Marathon, Quarter Marathon and 20-mile Challenge. The Scramble, directed by Fran McLean and Ray Hanlon, is known for its White Elephant Awards and general fun. It is the right way to start a new year.

The Swamp Forest races, directed by Bobby York, are known for the ankle snapping single-track trails the race participants run on in the Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. This year 10 people ran the 20-mile race, including male winner Thomas Parker and female winner and second place overall finisher Sherri Wise.  The half-marathon had 32 finishers with Leonardo Canete finishing first and Averi Lewis the top female finisher.   Finally, Leo Rutledge led 65 runners across the finish line in the quarter-marathon, including the top woman, Angely Jimenez.

So, I suspect, high on the list of things to make a “Happy New Year” would be the end or substantial diminution of COVID-19 in all of its mutated forms.  It seems like many Happy New Years since COVID-19 arrived in Tallahassee.  The 2020 Springtime 10K-5K was one of the first Tallahassee races to be converted to a virtual race.

After missing last year, the Billy Bowlegs 5K race is back and will be run on January 8, 2022. (https://runsignup.com/Race/FL/Tallahassee/BowlegsRunforScholarship5K ).  The GWTC 30K/15K races on Old Centerville Road take off on January 15, while the Tallahassee Marathon is on track for a February 6 start downtown.

The year 2021 was at best mixed. While there were not pre-COVID numbers of participants, races did return and, in some cases, exceeded expectations.

Personally, I had to stay away from the traditional Christmas Eve Run to Posey’s in 2020 because of a positive test for COVID-19.  That stung because that event is about friendships. This year, after 3 vaccinations, I was able to run the 15.5 mile stretch of the St. Marks Rails to Trails and enjoy breakfast in the city of St. Marks with friends and family, a big improvement over 2020.

The year 2021 finished strong enough to give the year a better grade than the year 2020 received. On the racing side, the year finished up with Turkey Trot, the GWTC 10 Mile/5Mile Challenge, and the Ultra, all with decent numbers of participants. However, there remain many questions to resolve before anyone declares the risks over. Omicron has yet to peak, and it seems unlikely it is the last variant.

Wishing all a Happy New Year – one we don’t have to look back at and ask why didn’t we…

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