Saturday, September 29, 2018

Droze and Dietrich duel at the Victory Run

On Saturday morning, 29 September 2018, a whitetail deer was eating acorns laying on the Goose Pond Trail in Tallahassee’s Tom Brown Park. After a while, the doe ambled off into the brush. There would be a lot of fitness traffic on the trail later in the morning, including the 54 athletes running the inaugural Victory Run 5K. Gary Droze was the fastest of the runners trampling the acorns, winning the race in 18:18. Alyssa Terry was the first woman in the 5K, finishing fifth overall in 19:57.

Gary Droze, Kurt Dietrich
Gary Droze leads Kurt Dietrich

The Tallahassee office of the National Weather Service calculated that September was the hottest month so far in 2018, even warmer than July and August. The athletes in the Victory Run got a small break, though, because most of the Goose Pond Trail was in the shade. The length of the paved trail through Tom Brown Park is almost exactly 2,500 meters. For runners, that’s a challenge to race from one end of the trail (say, the Connor Boulevard end) to the other (the Weems Road end) and back, just to see what one can do for 5,000 meters. Of all the 5K races that have been run on the trail or in Tom Brown Park, though, none of the courses had been USATF certified until the Victory Run. The athletes in that race could be assured of getting a legitimate time on an accurate course.


According to the deer, this didn’t improve the flavor of the acorns.


The race was fifteen minutes late getting started, fifteen minutes during which the sun rose higher and the air grew warmer. The deer could have taken a more leisurely breakfast. But at 8:15 AM, the race was under way.

Kurt Dietrich, Will Springer, Gary Droze
Kurt Dietrich, Will Springer, Gary Droze

Gary Droze, the Tallahassee Community College cross-country coach, set the early pace, accompanied by Kurt Dietrich and Will Springer. Nine years earlier, Dietrich had run cross-country for Lincoln High, located next to the Connor Boulevard end of the Goose Pond Trail. Racing on the trail was homecoming for him. Springer, a member of Trinity Catholic’s middle school cross-country team, had never raced 5K before. Even though he couldn’t stay with the leaders, Springer hung on to finish sixth overall in 20:17 in his debut five-kilometer performance.


At the halfway point Droze still held the lead, with Dietrich a step behind. Jim Halley was in the third position, 40 meters behind the leaders.


“It didn’t change much after that,” said Droze.


The positions didn’t, but the margins did. Droze dropped Dietrich to win by close to a hundred meters in 18:18. Dietrich took second in 18:41, and Halley was third in 18:56. Master runner Duane Evans finished fourth in 19:49.

Alyssa Terry
Alyssa Terry

Women’s champ Alyssa Terry finished a few steps behind Evans in 19:57.


“I finally broke twenty minutes!” said Terry. Three weeks earlier she had come close to that barrier at the Sickle Cell 5K, running 20:01. That had stood as her best mark until the Victory Run.


Monica Judd was the first woman master in the Victory Run and the second female finisher, placing eighth overall in 22:35. Shemaiah Thames placed third in the women's standings and nineteenth overall in 30:59.

Monica Judd
Monica Judd

54 athletes finished the 2018 Victory Run 5K, and another sixteen finished a one-mile fun run. Miles & Minutes of Tallahassee timed the races.


Top Ten Men, AngelWingz's 2018 Victory Run 5K
  1. 18:17.53, Gary Droze (M, 57)
  2. 18:40.61, Kurt Dietrich (M, 27)
  3. 18:55.94, Jim Halley (M, 39)
  4. 19:48.35, Duane Evans (M, 51)
  5. 20:16.88, William Springer (M, 12)
  6. 22:34.18, Michael Kennett (M, 44)
  7. 23:56.50, Corey Hassan (M, 17)
  8. 24:23.11, Toby Jordan (M, 21)
  9. 24:25.56, Greg Lane (M, 48)
  10. 24:53.01, Mike LaBossiere (M, 52)

Top Ten Women, AngelWingz's 2018 Victory Run 5K
  1. 19:56.08, Alyssa Terry (F, 25)
  2. 22:26.85, Monica Judd (F, 44)
  3. 30:58.19, Shemaiah Thames (F, 31)
  4. 31:15.65, Taylor Barnes (F, 24)
  5. 34:37.83, Lesa Evans (F, 51)
  6. 34:52.29, Susan Cornwell (F, 69)
  7. 35:02.19, Elizabeth Noelk (F, 25)
  8. 35:53.28, Soheyla Mahdavian (F, 34)
  9. 35:56.63, Emily Hodges (F, 23)
  10. 36:46.03, Kimberely Kent (F, 47)

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