By David Yon
The weather was about as good as you could ask for on a mid-July afternoon in Dothan, Alabama as 256 runners completed the Critter Run 5K on Saturday evening. Now, please don’t confuse that description with “cool” as it was still plenty hot. This race was on the GWTC Grand Prix as part of an “exchange” program with the Dothan Runners Club, a classy group that organizes the running scene in Dothan and visited Tallahassee to run the Palace Saloon 5K last spring. The race features a different “critter” each year and this year it was the Bull Frog. The loop course was nice, falling downhill through a residential neighborhood for the first mile, and then rolling through the middle of the course before finishing with a challenging uphill at the end. The hills and summer day kept the times slow or maybe it was just one of those heavy gravity days. Matt Dobson dipped just under 16:00 minutes to capture the overall title. Tim Unger was the first GWTC finisher, followed by Bill McGuire, Greg Waddell and Reid Vannoy. Tim also claimed the master’s title. I did not catch the first woman’s name, but she was a little over 22:00 minutes. Ann Bowman was close behind and the first GWTC female finisher, while Mary Jean Yon was next and the first master with all three finishing under 23:00 minutes. Complete results are on the way.
GWTC has an amazing network of volunteers. Without a doubt the club’s most compelling strength is the depth of that group. The club succeeds not because it has one or two superstars who do all the work like so many organizations, but because everywhere you look someone is quietly toiling away on an important project. Yes, at any one time you may be able to look out there and see someone who seems to be in the forefront, but this organization has an amazing number of people who carve out their own niches where they can contribute and then quietly go about do a great job. The latest example of such doings is Julie Clark. SEVENTY people showed up for her beginning runner’s class last Monday. She had almost fifty participants the first week. Julie works hard to make this class something special for these people and it is paying off big. What a great venue for recruiting new members and impacting their lives in a positive way. I could quickly name twenty-five more people who deserve special recognition.
Everywhere I go lately I see the Capital City Christian Cruisers. They were on television, in the newspaper and on the sidewalks in front of Publix trying any and everything to raise money. GWTC has been a very good friend of this organization and the results have been outstanding. Every year the club sends more kids than anyone expects to AAU National meet and this year is no exception. Ernie and Alice Sims were the 1999 winners of Cleveland – Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award, but they have not rested on their laurels. They have worked hard to provide opportunities for nearly one hundred kids to participate in track and field and also to try to provide these kids with opportunities to build better lives. This year twenty-five kids have qualified for the AAU Nationals in Norfolk, Virginia. In my view (for what it is worth) GWTC’s support of this group accomplishes two very worthy purposes. First, it gets kids involved in running and field events. Second, it is a great way of improving the club’s diversity. While CCCC is open to all and, in fact, you will see people of many colors among the kids and coaches in their program, there are more African-American participants than any other. Hopefully, as these kids move on we will see more and more of them in GWTC and at our races. I know they will never forget their time running with CCCC.
The talk of the week among GWTC members seemed to be Lance Armstrong. He took advantage of all the new technology on the Tour de France to (as I heard one commentator say) rope-a-dope his competitors in the Alps. His effort on July 17 was one of those athletic performances that just make your spine tingle. Armstrong started the day in twenty-third place, more than thirty-five minutes behind the leader, in the overall standings and some were beginning to think maybe he was not at the championship level of the past two years. Well back in the back, he appeared to be struggling in the critical mountain stage. A close inspection might have revealed that his struggle seemed a bit worse whenever a TV camera was close. Team managers watching these shots immediately radioed their top riders to tell them to relax, this would not be Lance’s day to catch anyone. Wrong! An explosion followed as Armstrong blasted off just as the other riders began to doze. He went on to win his first stage of this year’s race and made up huge chunks of time, not only on the leaders, but also on his chief rival, Jan Ulrich. By the time the week was over, Armstrong was wearing the yellow jersey and looking invincible again as he rode toward his third straight Tour de France win. And speaking of technology, Lance and wife Kristen learned during the week that the twins Kristen has been carrying are going to be girls. When all the treatments for Lance’s testicular cancer left Lance sterile, the Armstrong’s used sperm cells Lance had banked before the treatments and in vitro fertilization for Kristen to become pregnant.
The World Championships start August 3 in Edmonton. Estimates are that four billion viewers worldwide will watch. Some US runners with some significant improvements in their times as they tune up include: Paul McMullen ran 3:33.89 for 1500 meters and Adam Goucher ran 7:34.96 for 3000 to become US leaders at both distances, while Suzy Favor-Hamilton ran 4:00.38 for the third best time in the world and a US leading time in the 1500. Sarah Schwald improved her 1500 time to 4:05.98 and Deena Drossin lowered her best for the year in the 3000 to 8:45.77. And closer to home Breeda Dennehy-Willis dipped below the 9:00 mark in the 3000 by running an 8:58.90 in Dublin on the 13th of July and then won the Irish National Championships on July 22, 2001 with a time of 15:31.