Monday, December 5, 2011

Linton and Kurgatt head the horde at Jingle Bell 3K

Stanley LintonOnce the body count has been tallied from Black Friday shopping, the rash of holiday races can't be far behind. In the Trouble Afoot area, Blountstown, Florida has its Jingle Bell Run 5K and Valdosta its Winterfest 5K. Tallahassee's Jingle Bell Run has to be the largest in the area, and it was bigger than ever on Saturday evening, 3 December 2011. How large?

"There are 3,000 runners on the street this evening!" bellowed Tallahassee's Mayor Marks from the podium before the run. Then after a pause, "I've been told that there are 7,000 runners entered! We've grown by 4,000 in the last two minutes!"

You don't have to be Santa to be a jolly old elf.

Starting LineAs big as it is, Tallahassee's Jingle Bell Run isn't really organized as a race. The runners aren't timed, but a clock is placed next to the finish line so you can glance over and see what you logged for three kilometers (although most years the course hasn't even been a rough approximation of that distance). Results are neither compiled or published, but there is an attempt to determine the top male and top female finisher, who are supposedly accorded a place with honor next to Santa on a float in the following Winter Festival parade. So for a few runners up front, it can be a race through the streets of downtown Tallahassee.

Stanley Linton
Local high school cross-country start took the top spots in 2009 and 2010. 2011 was no exception, as Wakulla High senior Stanley Linton sped across the finish line first in 9:57. Less than nine hours earlier, Linton had been racing in the annual FACA Senior All-Star Cross-Country Meet, where he had placed twelfth. Stefanie Kurgatt, a junior on the cross-country squad at Maclay School, was the first female finisher, running 12:18.

Stefanie KurgattTallahassee's Jingle Bell Run may be wanting as a road race. In spite of the numbers, it's no Boston or Peachtree. But it does get an extraordinary number of Tallahassee citizens out running in the streets, and it raises money for the Friends Of Our Parks, which supports the facilities of the Tallahassee Parks and Recreation Department. Those parks are home to some of the finest running trails anywhere, excellent places to train and even the site of a few races (e.g., the Miller Landing Madness and the Tails & Trails). That's something that any runner can support.


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