Monday, April 25, 2016

Ryan Slyter leads over 100 athletes to Hell and back

Oh, listen! Good people, a story I’ll tell
Of a great swamp in Florida, a place called ‘Tate’s Hell.’
One hundred and forty square watery miles
With millions of ‘skeeters and big yellow flies,
And where all about the moccasins lie
With glittering death in their beady eye,
Where bull-gators beller and panthers squall.
Now this is a place to be shunned by all.

-- Will McLean, “Tate's Hell”

2016 Tate's Hell And Back 5KThey still had music class when I was in elementary school in Tallahassee, Florida. I don't think any of us became Carnegie Hall material, but we did get to sing quite a few songs, including Florida folk musician Will McLean's ballad "Tate's Hell." I still remember every word of that one, probably because of the story's appeal to the imagination of a ten-year-old boy. Apparently there was a vast swamp full of monstrous creatures just south of us. Alligators! Panthers! Rattlesnakes! A man, Cebe Tate, had blundered into the swamp near Sumatra and spent nearly two weeks lost and delirious before crawling out near Carrabelle and dying. I had no idea where Sumatra was, but Carrabelle was a real place on the way to the beach, so the story must be true.

As it turns out, Tate's Hell is a real swamp, although I've never spent enough time there to encounter anything fiercer than a pitcher plant or a litter of baby raccoons. Most of the land is in Florida's Tate's Hell State Forest. So when So when plans were made for a 5K in Carrabelle to benefit the Franklin County Senior Center, it was decided that the runners would go to Hell and back. Specifically, they would start at the Carrabelle Christian Center, run to Tate's Hell, then turn around and return by the same route. The athletes would only go to the edge of Tate's Hell State Forest, though--no need for anyone to end up like Cebe Tate.

Most of the Tate's Hell State Forest is in Franklin County, so you'd have to think that the County Forester, Ryan Slyter, would know the swamp as well as anyone. Perhaps that knowledge was Slyter's advantage in the inaugural Tate's Hell and Back 5K on Saturday morning, 23 April 2016. Slyter won the race by nearly 400 meters, running the 3.1-miles in 16:47. Tallahassee master runner Michael Martinez took second in 18:10, and Mark Collins was third in 22:13.

Sara Collins edged Krista Wharton in a close race for the women's title, 22:27 to 22:29. The two runners were fourth and fifth overall. Kate Wharton was third in the women's standings and tenth overall in 24:35.

104 athletes finished the inaugural Tate's Hell and Back 5K. The event raised $2100 for the Franklin County Senior Citizens Center. Look for the second annual Tate's Hell and Back 5K in Carrabelle on Saturday, 22 April 2017, during the Carrabelle Riverfront Festival.

Top Ten Men, 2016 Tate's Hell And Back 5K
  1. 16:46.8 ~ Ryan Slyter
  2. 18:09.5 ~ Michael Martinez
  3. 22:12.2 ~ Mark Collins
  4. 22:53.0 ~ David Printiss
  5. 23:21.2 ~ Ronald Harrison
  6. 24:13.9 ~ Larry Winchester
  7. 24:29.0 ~ Fred Kupfer
  8. 25:32.1 ~ Chris Matechik
  9. 25:35.8 ~ Brian Barfield
  10. 26:19.2 ~ Rob Williams

Top Ten Men, 2016 Tate's Hell And Back 5K
  1. 22:26.2 ~ Sara Collins
  2. 22:28.6 ~ Krista Wharton
  3. 24:34.9 ~ Kate Wharton
  4. 25:03.4 ~ Jessica Shields
  5. 25:24.7 ~ Melissa Potter
  6. 26:37.4 ~ Leisa Eastman
  7. 27:09.2 ~ Chelsea Marshall-Hinela
  8. 27:19.9 ~ Rosie Davis
  9. 28:32.8 ~ Judith Kent
  10. 30:11.8 ~ Brandice Mock


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