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Let’s Run, the Sun is shining somewhere

David Yon, February 4, 2018

Yes, that is Sunshine on the other side of those clouds.  And it almost got through to warm the runners on the earth’s surface below.  We all like to joke about the weather experts never getting it right.  Well, this time they were on, predicting more than 100% chance of rain on Marathon Day in Tallahassee.  The mass of shivering runners crossing the finish line was proof of their accuracy.  The skies opened up numerous times during the races and the rain washed away the marking chalk and the wind blew down the directional signs.

Sheryl Rosen was not about the back down though.  It might have been her first time directing a race of this magnitude, but she had worked too hard to make this event a success.  And the bad weather did start a bit late, so when the gun went off most of the runners were still dry.

The race was testing out new courses this year that started in front of the Leon County Courthouse and finished on Duval in front of Kleman Plaza, just like the previous several years. In between, however, there were a number of runner-friendly changes.  The course included the Betton neighborhood, Midtown, Cascades Park, Myers Park, the Cascades Trail Pedestrian Bridge, FAMU Way, Jake Gaither Neighborhood, the St. Marks Trail and Florida State University – a diverse look at Tallahassee.

Bryan Morseman was ready for the conditions and the new course.  It did not take him long to separate from the other marathon runners and by the time he reached the half way point on the backside of Lake Henrietta, he had a 4 minute, 15 second lead on Peyton Hoyal and a five minute, 38 second lead on Charlie Johnson.  While he slowed a little on the second half (1:14:26 compared to 1:12:30), he still finished well ahead of second place finisher and GWTC member Charlie Johnson, who ran his fastest ever marathon, breaking the 2:40 barrier with a time of 2:39:13.  Charlie was Gulf Winds Track Club’s Male Runner of the Year for 2017.

On the women’s side, Tamara Kozulina took the top billing in a time of 3:03:10.  It was her fourth Tallahassee Marathon win and her fastest.  Her first win came in 2008 in a time of 3:03:38. She now has a streak of three wins in a row.  Three of her wins have been between 3:03:10 and 3:03:38.   Her “slow” win took 3:09:25 seconds. Second place went to Blair Bodenmiller with a time of 3:10:35.

In the half marathon Johnny Crain (Blowing Rock, N.C.) bested Justin Garrard (Tallahassee) in a time of 1:10:35 to 1:14:04.  On the women’s side, Marina Khelevskaya finished in 1:21:23 to take the top spot.  Second place went to Jennifer Bayliss of Danville, California who ran 1:26:33 -- quite remarkable given her age of 47.

The 2018 race featured relay team competition for the first time.  Thirty teams competed in three categories, Male, Female and Coed.  Team members ran distances of nine, six (twice), and five miles. This event is likely to grow quickly in the future.  The marathon reported 153 finishers, while the half marathon had 700 exactly.  Those are not bad numbers for the weather report and conditions. 

Race director Sheryl Rosen gave the weather its due, but also noted:

The rain added some unwanted additional adversity, but running a marathon well is all about adversity after all. When you push yourself, you learn about yourself. You often find out you have more gumption than you knew.

That is all true, but it is also true that a lot of people were scared off by the forecast and many others decided staying under the covers was the best idea.  Not Sheryl Rosen; isn’t that where we started after all?  Here is hoping she is back in her role as leader next year.  I am sure it will mean good things for the marathon!