Youth Runner of the Year - Kyle, Chase and Caleb Harris

Gary Droze

Good evening.  It’s my happy privilege tonight to present the GWTC Youth Runner of the Year award.  Let me begin with a reassurance.  As a high school track and cross-country coach, I could be suspected of exploiting my happy privilege, and recruiting the winner of this year’s award to transfer to my school.  I assure you, I have no intention of convincing any talented young runner that they should attend MACLAY SCHOOL, which, incidentally, is consistently voted by Tallahasseans as the top private school in the area.  There’s no reason for any budding distance star to consider a switch to Maclay, with its award-winning sports programs, high-caliber college prep curriculum, superb faculty, and working toilets.  I’m sure you can explore your athletic potential just as completely at any number of schools that don’t happen to border a magnificent state park, filled with miles of gorgeous running trails.  But I digress.

As I mentioned, this award goes to a young runner, which automatically disqualifies 80% of tonight’s attendees.  Let’s face it: as a club, we’re stumbling towards Geezerville.  That reality was made painfully evident at the last board meeting, held at Westminster Oaks.  The top suggestion to arise from a brainstorming session to increase club numbers: each new membership includes complimentary enrollment in AARP.  Another indicator of our advancing years:  the Board just approved a change in Grand Prix age group wards.  The new divisions are 39 and under; then, starting with 40 year-olds, 1-year age divisions.  But the biggest indicator is the widespread request for more porta-potties along race routes.  You know we’re having some old guy prostate issues when some of our “ubergrandmasters” are demanding portalets at the 200 meter mark of the Breakfast on the Track Mile.  But I digress.  

It’s time to start with the clues, concerning our winner.  First off, we have not one winner, but three.  Next hint: the three are siblings.  That didn’t take long.  By now you’ve all guessed that our youth runners of the year are…Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson!  Whoops, I’m mistaken.  The Simpsons were runners-up.  The actual winners did some actual racing, and lots of it.  Each of them competed at least a dozen times in 2009, at distances from the mile to 12K.  The veteran sibling in this trifecta is all of 15.  He filled the year with top-10 overall finishes, and took an outright win at the Syrupmaker 5K, in 18:16.  His numerous sub-18:00 performances were highlighted by a 17:37 at the FSU Big Bend Cares 5K.  His 12 year-old brother is a Grand Prix age group medalist this year, thanks to numerous 5K finishes right around the 19 minute mark.  Remarkably, his top 5K of 2009 came at a cross-country meet.  He popped 18:39 at the Panhandle Champs.  His off-road 3K win (11:26) at the Miller Landing Madness confirms a talent for running over hill and dale.  The youngest of these brothers hit some very precocious marks for an 8-year old.  How about 6:18 for the mile?  How about averaging sub-7:00 miles for the 5K, with a top clocking of 21:10 at the Big Bend Cares race?  How about we test this zippy kid for blood doping?  Just kidding.  I’ve seen him train at Tuesday intervals.  Like his brothers, this one is far too upstanding, earnest, and hardworking to have a need or desire to cheat in any way…unlike some of us old runners.  But I digress.

Congratulations to the 2009 Youth Runners of the Year:   brothers Kyle, Chase, and Caleb Harris.