Saturday, July 20, 2013

Canto 2013, In which Cox leaves 18 runners to the Devil

Devil Take The HindmostVeterans and first timers headed to Florida State University's Mike Long Track for annual renewal of Tallahassee's Devil Take The Hindmost Race on Saturday evening, 20 July 2013. Both groups were on more or less the same footing because the rules had changed this year. At the end of each lap, the Devil would still pluck the last runner in the field from the race. The difference would be that each 400-meter lap had a two-minute limit. Anyone who didn't finish the lap in two minutes would be added to the Devil's harvest. Further, no one could start the next lap until the two minutes were up. You could run a lap in 60 seconds and then wait a minute, or you could run it in 1:59 and then wait a second--as long as you completed the lap before the last runner. Two minutes or not the last runner was still out.

Devil Take The HindmostScattered showers during the afternoon had many wondering if fire and brimstone would mix with water. But the last rain fell on campus over an hour before race time, and if the skies weren't clear, they weren't streaked with lightning, either. The race started just after 7:00 PM with a free lap, led by Maggi Beshara as the Devil. The second lap, though, was for blood. Mike Burns was at the rear of the pack at the end of that lap and became the Devil's first victim. The field of nineteen runners was reduced to 18 and the third lap started.

Lawson Yale and Jacque Myers went out together at the end of the third lap, reducing the number of women in the field by two. The female contingent was further reduced when Martha Bademan was seized by the Devil after four laps. Mark Fuller perished at the end of lap five. Havana's Eric Dueno had outrun the bulls in Pamplona, Spain earlier in July, but he couldn't outrun the Devil and bowed out after six laps. Shelton Ansley of Cairo, Georgia followed Dueno off the track at the end of the seventh lap. Paula O'Neill had been the longest surviving female runner in the 2012 Devil Take The Hindmost, but this year she was eliminated in the sprint at the end of lap eight. Exhausted by that sprint, Kellie Gerbes went more quietly after nine laps. Ten athletes were left on the track.

Devil Take The HindmostDom Milner just needed a few more inches to survive the tenth lap, but the Devil took him. At the end of the eleventh lap Tony Guillen also found himself less than a foot behind the surging field, but behind he was, and Guillen had to go. Bing Xu, used up from pushing the pace on the eleventh lap, was taken by the Devil after finishing twelve laps. Xu fell far enough behind on the twelfth lap to give the other seven runners a breather, but setting up a sprint for survival at the end of lap thirteen. Geb Kiros didn't survive. Six runners were left going into lap fourteen. Reikan Lin was left behind at the end of that lap, and five remained. The pace was getting stiffer and the sprint at the end of each lap more brutal. The Devil was still having fun, though.

Devil Take The Hindmost
The 15th lap was Sheryl Rosen's last. The Tallahassee lawyer was the last woman taken from the track by the Devil; the four remaining athletes were male. Charn McAllister was the first of the four to be taken by the Devil, falling behind at the end of the 16th lap. On the seventeenth lap Stephen Cox and Peter Kaus left Paul Guyas behind, setting up the last-lap match race. Waiting for the lap to begin, the two competitors caught their breath. The Devil watched on in anticipation.

Devil Take The HindmostPeter Kaus had raced the Devil Take The Hindmost in both 2011 and 2012, finishing runner-up in 2012. He grabbed the lead at the start of lap 18, leading Cox around the first turn and along the back straight. With 200 meters to go, though, Cox took over. In the lead, Cox ran smoothly along the final turn while Kaus's form deteriorated. Once both runners were on the home straight the race clearly belonged to Cox. He finished the race with a 40-meter lead, having run the final 400-meter lap in about 63 seconds. Behind him, Kaus crossed the line to be snatched up by the Devil. Both runners had covered more than 4-1/2 surge-filled miles.

The new rules were adapted from a race in Guernsey, one of the odd corners of the globe where the Devil Take The Hindmost is run. There weren't any complaints about the rules, but what good could come out of complaining to the Devil anyway? By whatever rules, the Devil will be back again.

Devil Take The Hindmost Race
Mike Long Track, Tallahassee, Florida
Saturday, 20 July 2013 @ 7:00 PM ET
PlaceFirst NameLast NameM/FAgeHometownLaps
1StephenCoxM29Tallahassee, FL19
2PeterKausM29Tallahassee, FL18
3PaulGuyasM35Tallahassee, FL17
4CharnMcAllisterM30Tallahassee, FL16
5SherylRosenF29Tallahassee, FL15
6ReikanLinM23Tallahassee, FL14
7GebKirosM46Tallahassee, FL13
8BingXuM45Tallahassee, FL12
9TonyGuillenM44Tallahassee, FL11
10DominicMilnerM33Tallahassee, FL10
11KellieGerbesF27Tallahassee, FL9
12PaulaO'NeillF52Tallahassee, FL8
13SheltonAnsleyM61Cairo, GA7
14EricDuenoM45Havana, FL6
15MarkFullerM49Tallahassee, FL5
16MarthaBademanF29Tallahassee, FL4
17JacqueMyersF57Tallahassee, FL3
17LawsonYaleF26Tallahassee, FL3
19MikeBurnsM48Tallahassee, FL2


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