Women runners looking good

Gary Droze

The fifty or so runners who beat me to the finish of the Jacksonville River Run 15K a few weeks ago included ten women. Was this mortifying? Hardly! Females have bested me in races since 1983, when I attempted to qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon by aiming for a sub-2:20 at Boston. For the first 90 minutes, I clicked off 5:20 miles with a dwindling, nervous pack of like-minded aerobic desperados. I could only outrun the strict limitations of my talent and training for 18 miles, however. Each successive mile cost me 10 seconds more than the previous one, and I finished in 2:25. Still, the time amounted to a personal best, and I earned minor kudos as the top finisher from Colorado, so I fancied myself a bit of a contender…until I discovered that some pint-sized plugger named Joanie Benoit took the women’s title in a course record 2:22:43. Divide that time by 26.2 miles, and it doesn’t matter whether you use a calculator, an abacus, or Dustin Hoffman’s character from “Rain Man:” you still arrive at a stunning 5:27 per mile. Benoit went on to win gold in the Olympic Marathon, and set the American record of 2:21:21, so I’ve been beaten by the best.

On the local level, male runners of all ages will be joining me this year as “also-rans” to the following speedy femmes who churn along the roads, trails, and tracks of Tallahassee:

  • Sarah Docter-Williams. The reigning grand prix points champion in the Gulf Winds Track Club series, Docter-Williams typically finishes within a minute of the area’s top males in 5K races, and notched 17:22 just this month.
  • Kate Wallace. A relative newcomer to Tallahassee, the former track miler is finding her road gears, having posted 18:29 at this year’s Rails-to-Trails 5K.
  • Misty Harper. An FSU distance runner whose recent 18:09 on the track bodes well for the second half of the outdoor season.
  • Breeda Dennehy-Willis. Tallahassee’s Irish Olympian can’t often fit local races into her high-powered schedule, much to the relief of top local club men who can’t match the 15:54 5K she barreled as a training workout last week.
  • Allison Eagen. The former Leon HS mainstay chopped her 5K PR to 18:39 this month, and looks ready to lop a lot more from that, based on her sessions at the GWTC Tuesday Night Intervals.
  • Brooke Bastien. The FSU runner won the women’s 3000m steeple at home in 11:00 last week, demonstrating sub-18:00 capability for 5K.

These women are all running quite well for so very early in the year. Boys, it’s time to get to work!