at Annual Awards ceremony
Deckerts named to Hall of Fame

By Martha Haynes
For the first time in the history of GWTC, a couple was named to the Hall of Fame -- Fred and Margarete Deckert. The award, announced by former president Charlie Yates Jan. 15 at the American Legion Hall, was presented to the Deckerts for their numerous contributions to the club over the years, including directing the Ultra Marathon, Fred's weekly column in the Tallahassee Democrat, Margarete's sales of GWTC paraphernalia, as well as their individual running achievements, among other things. Accepting the award, Fred said, "They say that with age, you get everything. We've gotten it all!"

Another couple honored at the Annual Awards ceremony was David and Mary Jean Yon, named Race Directors of the Year for the phenomenal job they have done in turning the Turkey Trot into a weeklong celebration of running, fitness, caring for others, and fun, culminating in four different races run simultaneously on Thanksgiving Day. Felton Wright noted that the Yons' achievement was "astounding," and that since their sponsorship, the Turkey Trot had seen over 20,000 finishers, scored more Grand Prix points, utilized more volunteers, and rented more Port-a-Lets than any other race in the area.

Mary Jean, in turn, made a moving presentation of the Female Runner of the Year award to outgoing president Jane Johnson, whose acceptance speech was characterized by humility and gratitude. Mary Jean noted many of Jane's accomplishments, but emphasized her excellence in marathons, particularly her 2003 performance in the Boston Marathon as an elite runner. Mary Jean noted that she is, proudly, "a friend of Jane Johnson."  Jane said, "We are blessed to have each other. You are an extraordinary group of people."

In an ad lib tour de force, Gary Droze presented the Male Runner of the Year award to Jack McDermott, noting that in 2003 Jack had run 11 marathons and a 40-mile race, excelled at long and short distances, selflessly supported and trained with other runners, and dazzled crowds with his innate fashion sense. In accepting the award, McDermott said, "I'm going to keep this short because I have to go to the bathroom," and thanked the members of the club, especially the Sunday Streakers.

Gary Griffin explained the less well-known meanings of "stripper" and "stringer" in his speech for the Bill Lott Volunteer of the Year award, presented this year to JoLena Pace, who pioneered computerized finish line scoring for GWTC. Griffin observed that all of the past Volunteers of the Year had volunteered to help at the Tallahassee Marathon (directed by Gary and his wife Peg), and encouraged hopefuls to get a jump on next year's award and sign up to help on Feb. 15. JoLena likewise solicited volunteers to help with finish line tasks, typically, emcee Bill McGuire noted, as a good Volunteer of the Year should.

Tony Guillen presented the Triathlete of the Year award to an absent Jeff Bowman, whose cycling prowess was emphasized by both Guillen and McGuire. "Quadzilla," Guillen said, is Boman's nickname. Tom Perkins gave the Community Award to Premier Fitness, citing their excellence at partnering with GWTC on various events. David Yon gave the Cleveland-Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award to GWTC webmistress Martha Haynes, who emphatically denied deserving the award, although she has been unable to part with the trophy since the ceremony.

Prior to the presentation of awards, new president Tom Perkins honored outgoing president Jane Johnson with a rose, followed by the presentation of roses to Johnson by many club members's children. Jane will be honored at noon March 24 as one of Ten Outstanding Community Woman selected by the Tallahassee Community College Women's History Month Committee. All GWTC members are invited to the ceremony honoring these women.

The Grand Prix and Summer Grand Prix awards were also distributed, as well as a new recognition, the Pay it Forward Award, given by David Yon.

The Annual Awards night is organized and orchestrated by the Grand Prix Committee, including Paul Ahnberg, JoLena Pace, Jane Johnson, Mims, and Lisa Unger. The program, as always, was emceed by Bill McGuire, whose insightful and often witty interlocutions eased the transition between presentations.

Annual Awards archive.

John Kalin's photos of 2003 awards.