Thursday, January 5, 2017

You'll find a run to like at either Swamp Forest or TMH For Life

There may eventually be a Saturday in 2017 when there isn’t a race in Tallahassee, but it won’t be during the first weekend of the year. Athletes hankering to race will have the choice of two events on 7 January 2017--Gulf Winds Track Club’s fourth annual Swamp Forest Trail Marathon, and the third annual TMH For Life Challenge Winter 5K. The choices don’t stop there, either. Runner will have to decide among three distances at Swamp Forest; a full 26.2-mile marathon, a 13.1-mile half marathon, or a six-and-a-half mile quarter marathon. The menu at the TMH For Life Challenge lets athletes choose either a five-kilometer run or a three-kilometer walk.


There are so many differences between the two events that it shouldn’t be hard to pick one or the other. The distances are the most obvious contrast. Runners who want to go long will head for Swamp Forest. Folks looking for something shorter and possibly faster will be at the TMH For Life Challenge.

Doug Bell

If you like the challenge of running trails, you’ll want to be at Phipps Park for the Swamp Forest Trail Marathon or one its shorter sister races. On the other hand, if you prefer the consistent footing of pavement, you’ll choose to head for the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center and hit the roads at the TMH For Life 5K.


As a trail run, the Swamp Forest Marathon isn’t going to produce fast times on a precisely measured course. It’s not a race where you can get a Boston Marathon qualifying time. The 5K course at the TMH For Life Challenge, on the other hand, is USATF certified. Athletes will be able to make valid comparison between their time on that course and any other certified course.


It may already be too late to enter the Swamp Forest Marathon. The event is limited to 150 participants; more might damage the trails and dilute the character of the run. The TMH For Life Challenge will welcome anyone who cares to enter, though. You should have no problem registering even on the morning of the race. I suppose there’s a large enough number of runners that would break the streets, but it’s not number you’re going to see in a Tallahassee road race.

Mickey Moore

One thing you’ll experience at either event is hills. Phipps Park, the site of the Swamp Forest races, is perched on the slopes of the Lake Jackson basin. There just isn’t a lot of flat ground in the park. As for the TMH For Life 5K, much of the course goes through Miccosukee Hills. Let’s just say it’s an aptly named neighborhood. There are some steep slopes on the rest of the route as well.


The Swamp Forest Trail Marathon (along with the half marathon and quarter marathon) starts at 8:00 AM. The TMH For Life Challenge 5K starts at 8:45 AM. If you can’t race either event, though, there will be another one soon. It’s a rare Saturday in Tallahassee that there isn’t at least one race scheduled.


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