Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tallahassee Marathon 2012

Solomon KandieLast year Gulf Winds Track Club's annual Tallahassee Marathon had to leave the St. Marks Trail because of construction. It was like having to evacuate a home for a natural disaster. Sure, the marathon goes back to 1975, and it has only been held on the St. Marks Trail since 2004, but that was enough time for the trail to seem like home. So it was a homecoming of sorts when the event returned to the trail last Sunday, Feb. 5, for the 38th annual running. Last year's course through Southwood was nice, but it was good to be back. That the trail had been renovated, repaved, and widened was a bonus.


Not that many of the over 300 athletes entered in the marathon would have necessarily recognized the course. Less than half of the runners were from Tallahassee, and several of those would have been running their first 26.2-mile race. The majority of the field was from out of town, representing 25 different states and four foreign countries.


One of those out-of-town runners was Solomon Kandie, a Kenyan training in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kandie ran with the leaders for the first mile or two, the parts of the course on the FSU campus. Soon after that he broke away, building up a gap of almost two minutes by the eight-mile mark. Kandie continued to run away from the field for a while, leading by 2:42 at halfway. He was over three minutes ahead at 19 miles, but something had changed. Kandie was looking back. He was starting to slow down.


Behind Kandie, Matt Flaherty was not slowing down. Running in the second position, Chicago’s Flaherty had passed the eight-mile mark chatting with third-place runner Justin Gillette. After Gillette dropped back, Flaherty exchanged friendly words with anyone he met along the course. He was running relaxed and he was maintaining his pace. So when Kandie slowed, Flaherty began to close in. Over the last seven miles, Flaherty cut Kandie’s lead in half, but he couldn’t catch the runner from Nairobi. Kandie won the marathon in 2:27:23, followed by Flaherty in 2:28:59. Gillette was third across the finish line on FSU’s Mike Long Track in 2:36:01.


In 2011 FSU track coach Karen Harvey posted the fastest women’s time ever in the Tallahassee Marathon, running 2:43:33. Just a year later Leah Thorvilson turned Harvey’s time into the second fastest, winning the women’s division in an event-record 2:40:06, placing fifth overall. It was just three weeks after Thorvilson had run a 2:42:09 in the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, Texas. Thorvilson finished over three miles ahead of the second-place women, Melissa Gillette, 18th in 3:04:38. Tallahassee runner Katie Showman was the third woman finisher, running 3:16:51.


Another 608 athletes finished the half marathon, swelling the crowd on the course. Crawfordville’s Stanley Linton was the fastest in the 13.1 mile race, running 1:15:31. Nearly half a mile back, Tampa’s John Robida outkicked Kentucky master runner Randy McDowell for second, 1:18:21 to 1:18:24 Tallahassee triathlete Seeley Gutierrez was the top woman in the “short” race, finishing eighth overall in 1:27:09.


For the third year in a row, a record number of runners finished both the marathon and the half marathon. If the race continues to grow, the state may have to widen the St. Marks Trail some more.


Top Ten Men, GWTC's 2012 Tallahassee Marathon
  1. 2:27:23 ~ Solomon Kandie (M, 33)
  2. 2:28:59 ~ Matt Flaherty (M, 26)
  3. 2:36:01 ~ Justin Gillette (M, 29)
  4. 2:37:26 ~ John Piggott (M, 46)
  5. 2:42:07 ~ David Ndungu (M, 33)
  6. 2:45:10 ~ Charlie Johnson (M, 32)
  7. 2:48:32 ~ Chuck Engle (M, 40)
  8. 2:53:27 ~ Michael Nesius (M, 27)
  9. 2:54:36 ~ Karim Hasnaoui (M, 29)
  10. 2:57:30 ~ Jack McDermott (M, 42)

Top Ten Women, GWTC's 2012 Tallahassee Marathon
  1. 2:40:06 ~ Leah Thorvilson (F, 33)
  2. 3:04:38 ~ Melissa Gillette (F, 29)
  3. 3:16:51 ~ Katie Showman (F, 30)
  4. 3:28:30 ~ Jodi Snodgrass (F, 29)
  5. 3:35:57 ~ Erica Szilagyi-Norgart (F, 51)
  6. 3:40:31 ~ Jennifer Kilinski (F, 33)
  7. 3:40:31 ~ Marci Gray (F, 37)
  8. 3:43:01 ~ Sandy Holt (F, 26)
  9. 3:44:27 ~ Amy McClenathan (F, 52)
  10. 3:45:57 ~ Lori Richardson (F, 25)

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