Women’s Distance Festival 2007 Wrap Up


Lisa Unger,


Saturday, September 15, 2007 was a great day for running in Tallahassee. The Women’s Distance Festival hosted 176 runners and walkers in the 5k and 32 participants in the mile (28 scored finishers). The 10 minute head start allowed 24 ladies to finish before the first man crossed the finish line. Sheryl Rosen came in first, and then Micah Adriani and Lisa Johnson who was followed closely by Kara Newell. Kirsten Baggett was the female Masters winner and Nancy Widener was the female Grandmasters winner. Jay Wallace was the first man with Michael Martinez capturing the Masters title and David Yon receiving the Grandmasters. The morning club races concluded just in time for many people to head over to Tom Brown Park and catch the Lincoln Invitational high school meet. The two running events had Ray Hanlon, Jeanne O’Kon, Bill McGuire and Bill Lott double dipping as volunteers at both. Many of the morning 5k runners also left one park and headed to the other to cheer on and encourage the high school runners.

For those who ran in the Women’s Distance Festival and either registered or picked up your packet race day morning, you were greeted by one of the best registration crews in town. Toma Wilkerson and her recruits made the chaos of the registration table look calm and in control. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, many of those volunteers also ran in the race or swapped hats and moved on to yet another volunteer position! Because of the staggered start of the WDF, some of the ladies at the registration table were able to run by handing their duties over to men whose start was delayed. Now that’s cooperation! Speaking of cooperation, Jude Dugas and Clark Evans coordinated to expertly cover an intersection on the course that the runners passed through both on the way out and also on the return. They both stayed at that corner for the entire 5k and also for the one mile—that’s a long morning, but they were rewarded with a great spectator vantage point for both races. The WDF 5k runners were also greeted by the smiling faces of Robin and Olivia Borschel as they passed the elementary school in the 3rd mile.

Directing a race or leading a group yourself is great motivation to volunteer at someone else’s race. Once you see first hand how many people it takes to put on a successful event, you’ll be much more apt to step up and help someone else. That’s why it was not a surprise to see folks like Bonnie Wright, Fran McLean, Jane Johnson, Julie Clark and Myron Herring, Keith and Michelle Rowe, Jackie McDaniel, Mae Cleveland, Mike Sims, Charlie Yates, Sue Kelly, Jeff Neilsen, David and Mary Jean Yon, Jack McDermott, Joe and Nadine Dexter and others volunteering to assist at WDF.

The Women’s Distance Festival was a Grand Prix event this year and very well attended. The race was able to raise enough funds to contribute half to club and half to the Chenoweth Fund; hopefully be earmarked to fully fund the Female Cross Country Runner of the Year scholarship. How more appropriate can it get than local runners supporting an event that funds a local scholarship awarded to a local female runner?

While a great success, Women’s Distance Festival was not without problems. The ladies start was more abrupt than expected and our third place lady briefly succumbed to the heat, humidity and dehydration. While we were very frightened and concerned for her health at the race, I am happy to report that Lisa has recuperated, re-hydrated and is fine. Our appreciation goes to Lisa’s supportive husband and also David and Mary Jean Yon for their efforts to aid Lisa.

The Women’s Distance Festival will continue to reach out to runners at all levels and hopefully will continue to grow. We hope to see you all next year!