At least that was the way it was in the 1980s and 1990s, when there was an annual Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Run in Tallahassee each summer from at least as far back as 1984 and lasting up to 1999. After that the event disappeared, popping up once in 2004, and now again in 2011. I confess guilt for the revival.
Briefly, Tallahassee's Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Run is a run on the track where at the end of the second lap and each subsequent lap, the Devil takes the last runner (the Hindmost, right?) off the track. The leaders are not allowed to end a lap more than 100 meters ahead of the last runner. How far you run depends on how long you can evade the Devil. The last runner left on the track wins.
Appropriately costumed, Elizabeth Stupi stood in for the Devil at this year's run, held on Saturday, 30 July 2011 on the FSU's Mike Long Track at 7:00PM. After an interminable recitation of the rules by Yours Truly, the Devil led the 23 runners around the track for a parade lap. After that, she settled down by the finish line to claim her victims.
Pam Pafford was the first out at the end of lap two, after which Sean Kerns bowed out voluntarily. On lap three, Sarah Johnston scooted by Caleb Harris on the last few steps, forcing Harris out on the third lap. But Johnston only lasted to the end of lap four. The Devil took Ace Haddock on lap five. Dana Stetson surged to stay ahead of Eric Dueno on lap six, but Stetson was so spent by the effort that he also dropped out.
So it went, lap after lap. Paula O'Neill looked like she would be gone after lap eight, but fought out of danger to last all the way to lap ten before being taken by the Devil. That left Katie Showman as the last woman on the track. After 14 laps Showman was gone, too.
Each trip down the front straight had started to look like an opening round heat of the Olympic 1,500 meters, with the leaders checking behind them and taking care not to get boxed. The pace was getting faster. Seldom do you see so many young men running so hard to stay away from a young woman.
The Devil got Charlie Johnson at the end of the eighteenth lap, leaving only John Robida, Vince Molosky, and Marc Akbar on the track. Robida labored behind the other two, while Akbar was opening a gap on Molosky. Robida intentionally slowed to allow Molosky to pull even with Akbar before the start of the twentieth lap, but it didn't do Molosky much good. As soon as Robida arrived on the front straight and the Devil allowed the front runners to continue, Akbar was racing away from Molosky. The Devil took Molosky after twenty laps, leaving Akbar to continue through the 21st lap alone as a victory circuit.
Will the Devil be back? The folks in the stands certainly were all for it. The feeling was not quite so unanimous on the track. History indicates, though, that you can keep Devil away for a year, or you can keep the Devil away for seven year, but you can't keep this event away forever.
|Devil Take The Hindmost Run|
|Mike Long Track, Tallahassee, Florida|
|Saturday, 30 July 2011 @ 7:00PM ET|
|1.||Marc Akbar||M||19||Tallahassee, FL||21|
|2.||Vince Molosky||M||32||Tallahassee, FL||20|
|3.||John Robida||M||31||Tampa, FL||19|
|4.||Charlie Johnson||M||31||Tallahassee, FL||18|
|5.||Peter Kaus||M||27||Tallahassee, FL||17|
|Sean Mendes||M||19||Tallahassee, FL||17|
|7.||Chase Harris||M||14||Bainbridge, GA||16|
|8.||Michael Kennett||M||37||Tallahassee, FL||15|
|9.||Katie Showman||F||29||Tallahassee, FL||14|
|10.||James Green||M||27||Tallahassee, FL||13|
|11.||John Lightle||M||30||Tallahassee, FL||12|
|12.||Gary Johnston||M||36||Tallahassee, FL||11|
|13.||Paula O'Neill||F||50||Tallahassee, FL||10|
|14.||Gary Cato||M||55||Bainbridge, GA||9|
|15.||Mason Vance||M||40||Tallahassee, FL||8|
|16.||Keith Rowe||M||49||Tallahassee, FL||7|
|17.||Eric Dueno||M||43||Havana, FL||6|
|Dana Stetson||M||54||Tallahassee, FL||6|
|19.||Ace Haddock||M||41||Sopchoppy, FL||5|
|20.||Sarah Johnston||F||11||Tallahassee, FL||4|
|21.||Caleb Harris||M||10||Bainbridge, GA||3|
|22.||Sean Kearns||M||46||Tallahassee, FL||2|
|23.||Pam Pafford||F||56||Tallahassee, FL||2|
- More photos of Tallahassee's 2011 Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Run
- Tom Rowland's photos of Tallahassee's 2011 Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Run
- Cole Tessier's photos of Tallahassee's 2011 Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Run
- Tallahassee's 2011 Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Run
- 2004 story, "A diabolic tradition renewed: Devil-Take-The-Hindmost (2004)"
- More usual and unusual events in the Tallahassee region on the Trouble Afoot! calendar