Saturday, August 27, 2016

Droze and Hines star in the opening act at the Cougar XC Challenge

If you head out to a stadium to watch some football, you're probably not going to be allowed on the field before the game to throw a ball around. At a basketball coliseum the general public doesn't get to go out on the floor and shoot a few before the tip-off. That's the way it is with most sports--you pay for your ticket, then stay in your seat. Getting out on the playing field is a good way to get tackled by security and then ejected from the venue.

Gary Droze
Gary Droze

At many cross country meets, though, there's an open or "community" race. You may not be able to run in the same race as the big dogs, but you can run on the same turf and trails that they do. In addition to college, high school, and middle school races, the Cougar Cross Country Challenge in Tallahassee, Florida has such a community race.

You had to get up pretty early for the Community 5K, though. The race started at 7:15 AM on Saturday morning, 27 August 2016, well before the first high school race. The sun had just barely risen over Phipps Park, but there were athletes on the starting line--cross country fans, team coaches, parents of high school athletes, and runners who just wanted to race.

Geb Kiros
Geb Kiros

Florida A&M University professor Geb Kiros set the early pace, leading the field on a descent toward Lake Jackson. At the mile mark Kiros had a twelve-second lead on the next runner, Myles Gibson of Donalsonville, Georgia. Tallahassee Community College cross country coach Gary Droze was a few more seconds back.

After a mile of mostly downhill running, though, it was time to climb back uphill. The second half of the race included two major ascents, and that was where Droze overtook Kiros and started building his own lead. By the time Droze crossed the finish linehe was more than 70 meters ahead of Kiros, winning the race in 18:50. Kiros took second in 19:07. Jeff Conston caught Myles Gibson late in the race to place third in 19:19, while Gibson was fourth in 19:33.

Amy Hines
Amy Hines

Each of the top four men was a master runner, but Amy Hines broke that pattern in the women's standings. 35-year-old Hines was the first woman in the 5K, placing eighth overall in 21:00. Michelle Richards was the top woman master and second female finisher, fourteenth overall in 23:31. Emily Smith placed third in the women's division and fourteenth overall in 23:31.

Miles and Minutes, LLC, of Tallahassee, Florida timed and scored the 2016 Cougar Cross Country Challenge.

Jeff ConstonTop Ten Men, 2016 Cougar Cross Country Challenge Community 5K
  1. 18:49.83 ~ Gary Droze (M, 55)
  2. 19:06.40 ~ Geb Kiros (M, 49)
  3. 19:18.24 ~ Jeff Conston (M, 48)
  4. 19:32.07 ~ Myles Gibson (M, 50)
  5. 19:55.69 ~ Paul Guyas (M, 38)
  6. 20:15.12 ~ Jonathan Labarre (M, 43)
  7. 20:37.44 ~ Mike Martinez (M, 50)
  8. 21:40.21 ~ Matt Swanson (M, 43)
  9. 22:46.45 ~ Gary Johnston (M, 41)
  10. 22:49.55 ~ Pat Sullivan (M, 47)
  11. 23:26.27 ~ Michael Kennett (M, 42)

Michelle Richards (14th, 23:31)Top Eight Women, 2016 Cougar Cross Country Challenge Community 5K
  1. 20:59.09 ~ Amy Hines (F, 35)
  2. 23:30.69 ~ Michelle Richards (F, 43)
  3. 23:38.17 ~ Emily Smith (F, 31)
  4. 28:39.25 ~ Francee Laywell (F, 54)
  5. 36:56.71 ~ Susan Cornwell (F, 67)
  6. 46:49.98 ~ Betty Dewar (F, 58)
  7. 47:15.15 ~ Robin Safley (F, 52)
  8. 47:15.47 ~ Kathy Mizereck (F, 64)