Sunday, August 22, 2010

Winters and Jackson winners at Vineyard Run

Around late July when you're running on the trails of north Florida you'll notice them. You may not see them, but you'll smell their fruity pungency as you run by. If you look down, you'll see them at your feet--dark purple, almost black. If you look up, you may be able to spot them hanging from their vines, high up in the trees. They're muscadines, Florida's native grape, and August is muscadine harvest time. So every August, Florida A & M University's Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research holds a Grape Harvest Festival at their offices east of Tallahassee on Mahan Drive near the I-10 / US 90 interchange. The festival includes grape tastings, wine tastings, hot-air balloon rides, live music, grape-throwing, and the Vineyard 5K run.

Or the not-quite-5K run. At this year's Festival on Saturday, 21 August 2010, race management hadn't made sure that a gate on the race course was unlocked, and the lead vehicle had to take the runners on a somewhat shorter tour of FAMU's vineyards. Runners are adaptable, though, and everyone continued to race. Shuaib Winters, a distance runner on FAMU's track team, was first to complete the abbreviated run in 12:15. His teammate Lamere Buchanan, a middle-distance specialist, was runner-up in 12:34. "Marathon Jack" McDermott of the Gulf Winds Track Club was the fastest master runner with a 14:13 clocking. Chandelic Jackson, an incoming freshman at FAMU, won the women's division in 15:08. Shanay Mayes, another incoming freshman at FAMU, placed second in the women's division with a 15:58.

In the ROTC unit team division, FAMU Navy ROTC won for the ROTC Challenge Cup for the second straight year, defeating the runners-up from FAMU Army ROTC and the third-place team from FSU Air Force ROTC.

The locked gate on the course is not one of those mistakes that runners easily forget. But there are lots of road races with accurate courses, and not nearly as many that are followed by wine tastings, samples of more varieties of muscadines than most people suspect the existence, and a performance by FAMU's "Marching 100" band. And maybe next year someone will remember to unlock the gate.



  1. I thought it was odd that the 5k only turned out to be about a 3.5k according to my Garmin! Thanks for the clarification Herb!

  2. 3500 meters seems consistent with the times--given that everyone would have run a bit faster if they knew in advance that they'd be running 30% short of the advertised distance.

    It happens. At the 2009 Quail Trail the lead vehicle took a wrong turn and we ended up going 5.4K (or at least longer than 5K).