Monday, July 25, 2016

Victory to Sununu while everyone else goes to the Devil

Spikes or flats? Race in the front of the pack or run from the back? Sit and surge, or run fast and steady?

These were all strategies discussed by the athletes and spectators at Tallahassee, Florida's annual Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Race on Saturday evening, 23 July 2016. None of the tactics worked in the end, because sooner or later the Devil caught every runner that stepped onto Florida State University's Mike Long Track that evening. Every runner, that is, except for Trevor Sununu, the 2016 Devil-Take-The-Hindmost champion.

Trevor Sununu
Trevor Sununu

Unique among track events, only one runner in the Devil-Take-The-Hindmost race goes the whole distance. After the first lap, the last runner at the end of each lap is taken off the track. This continues until only one runner is left to complete the last lap. That remaining runner celebrates victory; the Devil celebrates a full harvest.

At the 2016 race 23 runners made it to the starting line, which meant that the winner might have to run as far as 23 laps. The other 22 athletes wouldn't have to go nearly as far. The Devil led the runners through the first lap, then waited to see who she would be taking from the track after lap two.

2016 Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Race
Lap one, the "Parade Lap"

The first victim was Anna Bridges. After that the Devil took Alisa Ivanina at the end of the third lap and Zach Bridges at the end of the fourth. That was the first mile. During the second mile, the Devil started by snatching Mike Boll, then Stuart Poage, then Doug Cole. The Devil concluded the second mile by taking two runners from the track at the end of the eighth lap--Zach Scharlepp and Erik Andersen. There were 15 athletes left on the track, but the Devil knew that fourteen of them belonged to her.

The last woman left on the track, Katie Sack, was taken by the Devil at the end of the ninth lap. Philip Sura bowed out after ten laps, and Brian Molen made it no farther than the eleventh lap. Mark Tombrink went to the Devil after twelve laps. The thirteenth lap was especially unfortunate for the runners. The Devil took Zach DeVeau, and Arnoldo De Jesus and Hawthorne Hay each decided he could go no farther. Eight competitors remained to start the fourteenth lap.

Katie Sack
Katie Sack

The Devil showed Carter Hay the exit after fourteen laps. Vince Molosky surged into the lead on the fifteenth lap while the Devil seized Eric Godin. On the sixteenth lap, though, it was Molosky's turn to go to the Devil. Trevor Sununu set a stiff pace on the seventeenth lap, and his older brother Tyler Sununu ended up in the Devil's clutches. Trevor Sununu stayed in front on the eighteenth lap, and Paul Guyas ended up in the back as the Devil's next victim. Three runners were left on the track to start the nineteenth lap--Bryce Cole, Trevor Sununu, and Ryan Truchelut.

Trevor Sununu continued to push the pace on the nineteenth lap. Ryan Truchelut couldn't keep up with him, but he could stay ahead of Brycye Cole, and Cole went to the Devil. Sununu and Truchelut were left alone on the track to start the championship lap. Under the eyes of the spectators in the stands and the gleeful Devil, Sununu ran away from Truchelut. The Devil got Truchelut and Sununu got the win.

Tyler Sununu, Danielle Zemola
Tyler Sununu and the Devil

Credit is due Danielle Zemola for taking up the pitchfork and playing the Devil in 2016. Jane Skalski deserves thanks for compiling results. Bill Lott did everything else that it was possible to do. Herb Wills looked very important and it's possible that he did something, except nobody seems to know what it was.

The rumors that Territorial Governor Andrew Jackson ran in Tallahassee's first Devil-Take-The-Hindmost Race are entirely without merit, but the event does go back to the 1970s. Written records are next to nonexistent, but you can find people who will insist that the race was held more-or-less annually till 1999. After a hiatus the race reappeared for a year in 2004, then returned to an annual schedule in 2011. You can expect it to return in 2017, probably in July, unless it doesn't. With the Devil you just never know.

Devil Take The Hindmost Race
Mike Long Track, Tallahassee, Florida
Saturday, 23 July 2016 @ 7:00 PM ET
PlaceFirst NameLast NameM/FAgeHometownLaps
1. TrevorSununuM20Tallahassee, FL21
2.RyanTruchelutM30Tallahassee, FL20
3. BryceColeM18Tallahassee, FL19
4. PaulGuyasM38Tallahassee, FL18
5. TylerSununuM27Tallahassee, FL17
6. VinceMoloskyM37Tallahassee, FL16
7. EricGodinM32Tallahassee, FL15
8. CarterHayM45Tallahassee, FL14
9. ZachDeVeauM28Tallahassee, FL13

ArnoldoDe JesusM30Albany, GA13

HawthorneHayM14Tallahassee, FL13
12. MarkTombrinkM28Tallahassee, FL12
13. BrianMolenM40Tallahassee, FL11
14. PhilipSuraM46Tallahassee, FL10
15. KatieSackF24Tallahassee, FL9
16. ZachScharleppM33Tallahassee, FL8

ErikAndersenM33Tallahassee, FL8
18. DougColeM51Wakulla, FL7
19. StuartPoageM41Tallahassee, FL6
20. MikeBollM52Tallahassee, FL5
21. ZachBridgesM22Tallahassee, FL4
22. AlisaIvaninaF19Albany, GA3
23.AnnaBridgesF19Tallahassee, FL2


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