Saturday, January 7, 2017

Gary Gellin crushes the Swamp Forest Trail Marathon record

Tallahassee, Florida’s weather on Saturday morning, 7 January 2017, wouldn’t exactly inspire you to schedule a picnic. If you were looking for positives, the rain had stopped. But while temperatures were above freezing, the wind still felt icy. It was late morning before the sun made it out from behind the clouds.

It wasn’t a day to play outside. Down around Orlando, the Disney Half Marathon was canceled because of severe weather. But in Tallahassee’s Phipps Park, more than a hundred athletes showed up to run one of three races at Gulf Winds Track Club’s fourth annual Swamp Forest Trail Marathon. fifteen finished the full 26.2-mile marathon, 56 completed the 13.1-mile half marathon, and another 56 went 6.5 miles in the quarter marathon.

These were trail runners, though. They had already rejected running thirteen flat miles on a paved course through a theme park, cheered on by people dressed as cartoon mice or animated waterfowl. Instead, they had chosen to run up and down the slopes of the Lake Jackson Basin on narrow paths punctuated by tree roots and fallen limbs. The runners might have been noticed by Phipps Park’s squirrels and armadillos, but none of those creatures clapped their paws, or barked out “good job!” A little bit of weather wasn’t going to keep these runners from their lonely miles.

Gary Gellin
Gary Gellin

All three races at the Swamp Forest Trail Marathon started at 8:00 AM. Tallahassee master runner Doug Bell was the defending champion in the longest event, the full marathon. In 2016 he had run 3:59:49, becoming the first crack four hours on the rugged course. Bell went sub-four again in 2017, but Gary Gellin did it first. Just a month earlier Gellin had run his first race in the area, winning the Tallahassee Ultra-Distance Classic 50-Mile in 5:52:57. The Mill Valley, California master runner returned to Tallahassee for the 26.2-mile Swamp Forest race, winning in a new event record of 3:28:44. Bell was second in 3:32:13. Albany, Georgia’s Patrick Whitehead, a professor at Darton State College, took third in 3:43:25.

Top Ten Men, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Swamp Trail Marathon
  1. 3:28:43.93, Gary Gellin (M, 48)
  2. 3:32:12.20, Doug Bell (M, 47)
  3. 3:43:24.86, Patrick Whitehead (M, 30)
  4. 3:58:35.24, Jon Mason (M, 43)
  5. 4:09:40.54, Paul Guyas (M, 39)
  6. 4:11:46.65, Andy Roberts (M, 48)
  7. 4:39:16.59, Peter McNiece (M, 47)
  8. 4:47:47.38, Caleb R. Marcinkovich (M, 41)
  9. 4:49:06.69, Matt Swanson (M, 44)
  10. 5:05:23.88, Carl Eldred (M, 42)
[No women completed the marathon.]

Charlie Johnson, Sandy Johnson
Half Marathon winners

The course was a loop in the park, and the marathoners had to run four laps around the loop. The half marathoners only had two laps to enjoy. Tallahassee triathlete Charlie Johnson was the fastest in the two-lap race, running a winning 1:34:17. Jon Nash was second in 1:43:59, and Joel Piotrowski was the fastest master runner in the race, placing third overall in 1:52:43. Sandy Johnson, another Tallahassee triathlete, was the first woman in the half marathon, placing seventh overall in 2:08:19. Monica Judd was the first woman master and second female finisher, placing eleventh overall in 2:09:46.

Top Ten Men, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Swamp Trail Half Marathon
  1. 1:34:16.69, Charlie Johnson (M, 37)
  2. 1:43:58.60, Jon Nash (M, 37)
  3. 1:52:42.54, Joel Piotrowski (M, 46)
  4. 1:58:56.99, Ryan Baumbach (M, 37)
  5. 2:06:44.07, Jordan Cooper (M, 29)
  6. 2:07:48.31, Michael Kennett (M, 43)
  7. 2:08:19.24, Eric Miller (M, 30)
  8. 2:08:48.23, Hal Fravel (M, 36)
  9. 2:09:23.40, Jason Carter (M, 45)
  10. 2:12:59.35, Blake Rice (M, 36)

Top Ten Women, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Swamp Trail Half Marathon
  1. 2:08:18.86, Sandy Johnson (F, 31)
  2. 2:09:45.64, Monica Judd (F, 42)
  3. 2:16:00*, Marci Gray (F, 42)
  4. 2:26:45.37, Martha Guyas (F, 32)
  5. 2:27:12.64, Heather York (F, 39)
  6. 2:32:38.34, Lisa Homann (F, 46)
  7. 2:41:22.17, Christine Moorby (F, 46)
  8. 2:44:00.24, Chandra Hanson (F, 49)
  9. 2:47:56.14, Susan Cottrill (F, 54)
  10. 2:50:18.99, Jo Lena Bryan (F, 44)

The 6.5-mile competitors ran a single lap around the course. Master runner Eric Sager won the “short” race by nearly half a mile, running 52:34. Matthias Laywell was runner-up in 56:30, and master runner Jose Fernandez third in 56:52. Master runner Sonya Dudley took the women's title, placing twelfth overall in 1:13:24. Holly Harris was second in the women's standings and fourteenth overall in 1:13:58.

Top Ten Men, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Swamp Trail Quarter Marathon
  1. 52:33.54, Eric Sager (M, 45)
  2. 56:29.69, Matthias Laywell (M, 18)
  3. 56:51.74, Jose Fernandez (M, 46)
  4. 60:47.35, Anthony Stephens (M, 20)
  5. 62:36.75, Felton Wright (M, 59)
  6. 68:18.80, Thomas Stephens (M, 17)
  7. 68:50.24, Jay Yanovich (M, 62)
  8. 69:03.44, Richard Stephens (M, 50)
  9. 70:12.91, Scott Minert (M, 48)
  10. 72:22.25, Michael Flanigan (M, 47)

Top Ten Women, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Swamp Trail Quarter Marathon
  1. 73:23.73, Sonya Dudley (F, 48)
  2. 73:57.08, Holly Harris (F, 54)
  3. 74:17.64, Andrea Barnhill (F, 24)
  4. 75:14.08, Stephanie Ellis (F, 30)
  5. 76:43.73, Karla Noble (F, 32)
  6. 77:02.56, Johanna Petty (F, 37)
  7. 81:01.04, Catherine Stresing (F, 47)
  8. 81:28.28, Patricia Knauf (F, 48)
  9. 82:55.63, Beth Piccolo (F, 54)
  10. 83:34.46, Lacey Carpenter (F, 32)

Gulf Winds Track Club's Swamp Forest Trail Marathon winners, 2014 - 2016
4 January 2014Marathon4:07:10, Douglas Bell5:26:39, Carla McDonald23
Half Marathon1:54:23, Jon Mason2:02:14, Brook Pace65
Quarter Marathon56:03, David Hill1:05:38, Shelley Yaun35
3 January 2015Marathon4:06:02, Dink Taylor5:04:46, Jamie Harris21
Half Marathon1:43:54, Taylor Buzzard2:17:32, Kenzie Mazziotta82
Quarter Marathon54:34, Jim Halley1:01:22, Angela Dempsey55
3 January 2016Marathon3:59:49, Douglas Bell5:07:47, Danielle Zemola17
Half Marathon1:36:58, Taylor Buzzard2:20:54, Isabel Anderson56
Quarter Marathon54:17, Jose Fernandez1:02:50, Lindsay James68
7 January 2017Marathon3:28:44, Gary Gellin
Half Marathon1:34:17, Charlie Johnson2:08:19, Sandy Johnson56
Quarter Marathon52:34, Eric Sager1:13:24, Sonya Dudley56


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