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A few thoughts from a Race Director

David Yon, Nov. 2018

How could I not feel a little smile break across my face?  It was storming outside and I was safe and dry under my covers.  I was very thankful it was not raining like this the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Unlike in 2017, when the weather kept many people at home as rain fell the night before the race and during the days leading up to Thanksgiving, this year the weather was nearly perfect with a week of blue skies, cool temperatures and a very small chance of rain that kept both the volunteers and the runners happy.

Even without the impact of hurricanes, Tallahassee’s weather can be brutal. But this year, the city put on a show.  Southwood’s lakes, streets and trails were dressed in their best and succeeded in creating the perfect background for the 2018 Tallahassee Turkey Trot.  And runners and walkers responded as more than 5440 participants received finish times in one of four races, including 853 in the mile, 3810 in the 5K, 544 in the 10K and 237 in the 15K.  Altogether, it was one of the top 4 or 5 largest number of finishers.

There is an amazing group of volunteers who organize and maintain this event.  Long ago Mary Jean and I learned the event had outgrown the ability of two people to make everything happen as it is supposed to.  (Of course, there are still a lot of things that don’t go the way they are supposed to, but you just hope they are not critical.)  There is also an unexplainable wave of contentment and gratitude watching the thousands of runners turn off of Merchants Row and head for the finish line on Esplanade Way.  For many, this is the only race they do. 

For others, like Ricardo Estremera, it was a chance to break the 5K record, running 14:47 despite having to leap over my car at one point.  Caroline Willis took the top spot among women in the 5K with a time of 19:43. The men’s 10K winner was Micah Kemp from Pensacola, Florida.  He finished in 33:13 Renee Cox came home to prevail in the women’s race with a time of 38:59.

Sheryl Rosen, GWTC Marathon and Half Marathon director, ran 56:45 to claim another Turkey Trot 15K title and rumor has it a personal best.  I always have a big smile on my face when I see Stanley Linton run well – 48:28 in this case leaving everyone else in the 15K far behind.  One of my running companions, Fanxiu Zhu, flew from China and landed in Tallahassee after midnight early Thanksgiving morning.  By the time he made it home and unpacked, it was time to go to Southwood, which he did. He finished the 15K in a time of 1:13:25. 

The Turkey Trot 1 Mile Gobbler was an especially fun race to watch as Tony Guillen pulled away from Thaddeus Faulkner to win the mile in by three seconds, 6:21 to 6:24.  And no, that is not the former President of GWTC, but instead his son (hopefully a future president). In the women’s race, McKenna Swartzman was the first to cross the finish line, running a time of 6:45.    Second place went to Naomi Somerset who got the edge over Payton Thumm as both were given a time of 7:03.

In February of 2011, a runner in the Tallahassee Half Marathon crashed on the track with less than 300 meters to go.  He probably died on the track as paramedics and others worked to keep him alive and minimize any damage.  Among those who came to his aid was Alison Thumm who worked with the team that somehow brought him back from the other side.  He spent almost a week in the hospital.  On Thursday, Alison won the masters competition in the 10K.  And yes, that was her daughter who finished third in the mile.

The bell to start the race was rung this year by the friends and family of Ron Nieto, a member of our running and triathlon community who lost his battle to cancer, and the race bib number 1 was dedicated to Nancy Van Vessem of Capital Health Plan and Florida State University who died in a shooting at Betton Place. Mary Goble wore the number to honor Nancy.  Nancy and Capital Health Plan have been longtime supporters of the Tallahassee Turkey Trot.

The stories (and the good weather) could go on forever…and I hope they do.  See you next year.