Linton followed that plan on Saturday morning, 15 April 2017. He was quaffing beer from an enormous tankard he had been awarded for winning Gulf Winds Track Club's 43rd annual Palace Saloon 5K in 15:16. Twelve-year-old Ani Veltcheva wasn't at the Tallahassee, Florida event for the beer, but nevertheless won the women's title in 17:58.
Whether they came for the beer, a fast race, both, or neither, over a thousand runners gathered at Messer Park for the race. 1043 of them would cross the finish line. Stan Linton was among that throng. Linton has ties to both Florida State University and the Gulf Winds Track Club, but instead of the colors of either he was wearing a "Budweiser" racing vest.
"I saw a picture of Larry Greene winning the Springtime 10K in a Bud Light jersey, so I thought it would be cool to win Palace in a Budweiser jersey," explained Linton.
Greene, a former Florida State distance runner, had in fact won Tallahassee's 1984 Springtime 10K in 30:03, the fastest time ever recorded at that race. But Linton had his eye on another record held by another Florida State alumnus.
"I wanted to go after George West's Palace record of 14:30," said Linton. "But I've been sick this week. I was on pace for two miles but during the last mile I felt drained."
Linton started at an ambitious enough pace that no one dared stay with him. Matt McCurdy and Springtime 10K champion Chris Haynes followed Linton at a distance, first together, and then Haynes alone. By the end of the first mile Linton already had a lead of over 100 meters. He continued to widen that margin until checked by fatigue. He didn't falter enough for Haynes to make any significant gains, and Linton crossed the finish line with a more than comfortable lead in 15:16. It was the fastest winning time in the Palace Saloon 5K since 1994 when Robin Rogers ran 14:56. Haynes was second in 15:43, and McCurdy third in 16:36. Bryan Koon was the first master runner in the race, placing eighth overall in 17:19. Koon also had a less official win to brag about.
"First to the beer again!" said Koon.
According to Ani Veltcheva, her hometown Gainesville, Florida isn't dominated by hills to the extent that Tallahassee is. The young runner was already familiar with the Tallahassee topography, though, having experienced it at its most challenging when she won the women's titles at the 2016 Palace Saloon 5K and the 2017 Springtime 10K.
"I had run the Palace last year so I knew where to expect the hills," said Veltcheva. "Last year I finished the first little hill, and then I looked ahead and saw the traffic cones going up the big hill. 'Oh, no!' This course has only two hills, though. Springtime has a lot of hills."
Familiarity of the course wasn't the only difference for Veltcheva. She also ran fifteen seconds faster than she had run in 2016, successfully defending her title with a 17:58. Adriana Piekarewicz, second in the women's standings and seventeenth overall in 18:15, gained significantly on Veltcheva during the second half of the race, but not enough to challenge for the lead. Katie Sherron was the third woman and nineteenth overall in 18:31, while 2013 Palace Saloon 5K women's champ Sheryl Rosen was the fourth woman and 39th overall in 19:12. Kenya Rich was the first woman master and seventeenth female finisher, 120th overall in 22:08.
Veltcheva, on the track team at Abraham Lincoln Middle School, has already qualified for Florida's Middle School State Track and Field Championships in Bradenton on 13 May 2017. Before then, though, she may test herself on some more hills at the Rose City Run 10K in Thomasville, Georgia.
As young as she is, Veltcheva has already run the Palace Saloon 5K twice. On the men's side, Stan Linton has also raced two Palaces. Many of the other top finishers have even more Palace appearances, and farther back in the field are athletes who aren't even sure how many of the 43 Palace Saloon Road Races they've run. It's a race where people just keep returning.
"I did this one in 1977," commented one runner before this year's Palace. "Then I took 30 years off."
He found his way back, though. Sooner or later they all come home to the Palace.
Top Ten Men, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Palace Saloon 5K
- 15:16, Stan Linton (M, 23) Crawfordville, FL
- 15:43, Christopher Haynes (M, 24) Tallahassee, FL
- 16:36, Matthew McCurdy (M, 24) Tallahassee, FL
- 16:53, Brandon Shemonia (M, 23) Tallahassee, FL
- 17:04, Christopher O'Kelley (M, 24) Tallahassee, FL
- 17:08, Vince Molosky (M, 37) Tallahassee, FL
- 17:11, Scott Lloyd (M, 16) Crawfordville, FL
- 17:19, Bryan Koon (M, 45) Tallahassee, FL
- 17:34, Jacob Williams (M, 23) Tallahassee, FL
- 17:41, Daniel Blackman (M, 26) Tallahassee, FL
Top Ten Women, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Palace Saloon 5K
- 17:58, Ani Veltcheva (F, 12) Gainesville, FL
- 18:15, Adriana Piekarewicz (F, 28) Tallahassee, FL
- 18:31, Katie Sherron (F, 35) Tallahassee, FL
- 19:12, Sheryl Rosen (F, 32) Tallahassee, FL
- 19:45, Katie Sack (F, 25) Tallahassee, FL
- 20:05, Lauren Poulos (F, 31) Tallahassee, FL
- 20:16, Brittney Barnes (F, 29) Tallahassee, FL
- 20:23, Jillian Heddaeus (F, 34) Tallahassee, FL
- 20:31, Ann Centner (F, 25) Blakely, GA
- 20:55, Emma Spencer (F, 36) Tallahassee, FL
|43 Years of Palace Saloon 5K Champions, 1975 - 2017|
|15 April 2017||15:16, Stanley Linton||17:58, Ani Veltcheva||1043|
|16 April 2016||15:53, Nick Merrett||18:13, Ani Veltcheva||1048|
|11 April 2015||15:29, Tyler Udland||17:54, Lauren Poulos||1314|
|12 April 2014||15:52, Chris Lake||17:45, Amy Hines||1303|
|20 April 2013||15:46, Stanley Linton||17:49, Sheryl Rosen||1389|
|14 April 2012||16:07, Josh Myers||17:20, Lindsay Zeiler||1190|
|16 April 2011||15:48, Chris Lake||18:24, Lindsay Zeiler||1064|
|10 April 2010||15:45, Chris Lake||17:42, Christina Woytalewicz||1214|
|11 April 2009||16:21, John Robida||18:11, Lisa Johnson||1022|
|12 April 2008||15:25, Nick Sunseri||18:46, Lisa Johnson||782|
|14 April 2007||16:12, J. P. Cook||17:14, Breeda Willis||537|
|15 April 2006||16:04, Justin Cross||18:33, Stephanie Liles||456|
|16 April 2005||16:06, Lee Willis||16:31, Breeda Willis||318|
|10 April 2004||16:39, Shawn Patterson||18:29, Breeda Willis||299|
|12 April 2003||16:26, Martin Littlefield||19:21, Tricia Snyder||257|
|13 April 2002||17:22, Chris Stanley||21:03, Allison Eagen||189|
|14 April 2001||16:51, Art Remillard||19:05, Kate Wallace||219|
|15 April 2000||15:39, Paul Spangler||17:19, Anna Pichrtova||217|
|17 April 1999||15:45, Robert Pautienus||17:22, Sarah Docter-Williams||261|
|18 April 1998||16:18, Jason Carter||17:29, Sarah Docter-Williams||238|
|19 April 1997||15:53, Gary Droze||17:37, Sarah Docter-Williams||169|
|6 April 1996||15:55, Gary Droze||17:59, Jane Johnson||134|
|8 April 1995||16:01, Tim Simpkins||17:48, Jane Johnson||188|
|2 April 1994||14:56, Robin Rogers||17:51, Lisa Herman||252|
|3 April 1993||15:30, Andy Palmer||19:37, Carrie Hunnicutt||270|
|11 April 1992||15:48, Gary Droze||17:45, Paula Johnson||?|
|13 April 1991||15:10, Gary Droze||18:20, Vikki Saga||371|
|14 April 1990||14:57, David Keen||18:38, Vikki Saga|
|15 April 1989||15:23, Rick Miller||19:05, Yvonne Gsteiger|
|9 April 1988||15:30, Rick Miller||17:55, Karen MacHarg|
|11 April 1987||15:03, Jacob Hoesly||17:33, Karen MacHarg|
|12 April 1986||14:36, Paul Waldron||18:44, Paige Dempsey|
|9 March 1985||15:39, Rick Miller||17:52, Margaret Coomber|
|18 February 1984||15:32, Greg Doss||16:34, Kristy McDermott|
|16 April 1983||14:52, Rick Miller||16:38, Darien Andreu|
|20 March 1982||?????||?????|
|21 March 1981||15:02, Dennis Lunne||18:16, Janice Gage|
|8 March 1980||14:59, George West||19:37, Marty Graham|
|10 March 1979||14:55, Tom Herron||17:37, Kathy Moore|
|25 February 1978||14:30, George West||17:45, Laura Ledbetter|
|15 January 1977||George West||?????|
|14 August 1976||14:37, George West||18:05, Janice Gage|
|15 November 1975||18:17, David Price||19:56, Janice Gage|
- Complete results of Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Palace Saloon 5K at gulfwinds.org
- More photos of Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Palace Saloon 5K
- Part 1: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10109503721363053.1073742266.5215641&type=1&l=4fc50f05d5
- Part 2: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10109510069017303.1073742267.5215641&type=1&l=3d71fe451d
- Part 3: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10109516312849613.1073742268.5215641&type=1&l=ee83eaead3
- Fred Deckert's photos of Gulf Winds Track Club's 2017 Palace Saloon 5K
- Video, Stan Linton performs post-Palace with Low Country Boyle
- 2016 story, “Merrett and Veltcheva come to town to take the Palace”
- 2015 story, “Udland goes 15:29 and Poulos 17:54 for Palace Saloon 5K wins”
- 2014 story, “Lake and Hines rule at the 40th annual Palace”
- 2013 story, “Linton and Rosen lead a record crowd to the Palace Saloon”
- 2012 story, “Myers, Zeiler win the Battle of Jackson Bluff at Palace Saloon 5K”
- 2011 story, “Lake grabs his second Palace win, Zeiler her first”
- 2010 story, “Lake, Woytalewicz run into Palace Saloon 5K history”
- 2009 story, “Robida outruns a thousand to win the Palace Saloon 5K”
- 2013 Palace Saloon 5K USATF course certification map FL13028EBM
- Palace Saloon 5K website
- The Palace Saloon 5K on Facebook
- A huge list of upcoming races, but none like the Palace Saloon 5K