Monday, December 17, 2018

Charlie Kline and Shelly Allen are the 2018 Florida RRCA State Cross-Country Champions

Because of work at Apalachee Regional Park, the race had to be shortened from 6,000 meters to 5,500. Persistent rains in Tallahassee created a new creek that flowed across the course, water that the athletes had to either jump or wade twice during the race. Overcoming those obstacles, plus the usual hills and turns, Charlie Kline of the Gulf Winds Track Club won the Florida RRCA’s State Cross-Country Championship on Saturday morning, Dec. 15, running 18:03. Shelly Allen, representing New Balance Tampa Masters Racing, won the women’s title, placing fourteenth overall in 22:29.

Charlie Kline
Charlie Kline

The event was Gulf Winds Track Club’s eighth annual Tannenbaum Trail Cross-Country Race, and the Road Runners Club of America had designated it as their 2018 State Cross-Country Championship for Florida. The run was scheduled for Leon County’s Apalachee Regional Park, Tallahassee’s championship cross-country course. Unfortunately, feral hogs in the area don’t keep up with the racing calendar. The porkers rooted up the far east end of the course. Leon County Parks and Recreation tilled and reseeded, planning to have the damage repaired in time for the park to host the USATF National Cross-Country Championship in February.

Then it rained for half a week.

Charlie Kline
Charlie Kline

The havoc caused by 136 runners stomping through that wet, tilled field twice would have been worse than the original hog damage. So, on the eve of the Tannenbaum, that part of the course was eliminated. After seven years as a six-kilometer race, the 2018 Tannenbaum would be five-and-a-half kilometers, or just over 3.4 miles.

There was also the creek flowing across the course, which the runners encountered at 700 meters and again at 3,200 meters into the race. But water on the course is a typical hazard of cross-country. Organizers in Europe pray for rain before their races. In Tallahassee, race director Tom Perkins has water trucked in for his Miller Landing Madness cross-country race. Experienced cross-country runners, true harriers, wouldn’t have noticed the stream crossing, but might have mentioned that there weren’t any hedges, fences, or fallen trees to jump.

Collin Kane
Collin Kane

The rain finally stopped the night before the race, and the runners started at 9:00 AM under clear skies. The ground was still moist, though, and instead of the thunder of many footsteps, there was a chorus of squishes and splashes as the field passed by. Two minutes after the start, the first runners came to the creek. Some of the leaders splashed through, ignoring the water. Others tried to jump over the stream. Near the back of the pack, some athletes balked at the water, or looked for a way around. In the end, everyone got their feet wet.

Charlie Kline had a lead of 50 meters the second time he splashed through the creek. A seasoned cross-country man, Kline had raced for Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and Essex High in Vermont. Behind Kline, Collin Kane was in second, just ahead of Chris O’Kelley. A University of Florida student, Kane had run several times at Apalachee Regional Park for Gainesville’s Oak Hall High, including the High School State Meet, where he had placed eleventh in 2016 and thirteenth in 2017. The creek was new to him, but the hills were not. After cresting the final hill, half a kilometer from the finish, Kane began to close on Kline.

Carter Hay, Hawthorne Hay, Hong-Guo Yu
Carter Hay and Hawthorne Hay

Kline held on to enough of his lead to beat Kane to the finish line, 18:04 to 18:08. Chris O’Kelley took third in 18:53. Carter Hay, running with his son Hawthorne, overtook Hong-Guo Yu late in the race to place as the top master runner in the race. Carter Hay was fourth overall in 20:31, Hawthorne Hay fifth in 20:33, and Hong-Guo Yu sixth in 20:37.

Shelly Allen
Shelly Allen

Master runner Shelly Allen came from Fleming Island, Florida to race, but also to preview the course.

“I’ll be back here in February for Nationals,” said Allen.

Alyssa Terry
Alyssa Terry

In the Tannenbaum, Allen only got farther and farther ahead after taking the lead in the women’s competition. Comfortably ahead, she crossed the finish line in 22:29, taking the state title. Alyssa Terry of Tallahassee was runner-up for the women and fifteenth overall in 22:46. In the final meters, Brittney Barnes ran down Katie Sherron, a three-time Tannenbaum women's champ, to take the third women's spot. Barnes and Sherron were 20th and 21st overall, both runners clocked in 23:42. Leon High cross-country runner Lilli Unger was fifth in the women's standings and 22nd overall in 23:51.

Brittney Barnes, Lilli Unger
Brittney Barnes

136 athletes finished the 5,500-meter race. Gulf Winds Track Club chip-timed the event.

Top Ten Men, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2018 Tannenbaum Trail Cross-Country Race
  1. 18:03, Charlie Kline (M, 26) Tallahassee, FL
  2. 18:07, Collin Kane (M, 19) Gainesville, FL
  3. 18:53, Chris O'Kelley (M, 25) Tallahassee, FL
  4. 20:31, Carter Hay (M, 47) Tallahassee, FL
  5. 20:33, Hawthorne Hay (M, 16) Tallahassee, FL
  6. 20:37, Hong-Guo Yu (M, 50) Tallahassee, FL
  7. 20:57, Tony Guillen (M, 49) Tallahassee, FL
  8. 21:04, Kurt Dietrich (M, 27) Tallahassee, FL
  9. 21:11, Filippo Aldrovandi-Reina (M, 14) Tallahassee, FL
  10. 21:19, Jim Halley (M, 39) Tallahassee, FL

Top Ten Women, Gulf Winds Track Club's 2018 Tannenbaum Trail Cross-Country Race
  1. 22:29, Michelle Allen (F, 55) Fleming Island, FL
  2. 22:46, Alyssa Terry (F, 25) Tallahassee, FL
  3. 23:42, Brittney Barnes (F, 30) Tallahassee, FL
  4. 23:42, Katie Sherron (F, 37) Tallahassee, FL
  5. 23:51, Lilli Unger (F, 16) Tallahassee, FL
  6. 24:26, Kat Sack (F, 27) Tallahassee, FL
  7. 24:31, Jillian Heddaeus (F, 35) Tallahassee, FL
  8. 24:34, Melissa Thompson (F, 34)
  9. 24:51, Laura McDermott (F, 39) Tallahassee, FL
  10. 24:53, Clifton Lewis (F, 10) Tallahassee, FL

Tannenbaum Trail 6K Champions, 2011 - 2018
17 December 201119:49, Chris Lake25:33, Katie Showman173
15 December 201219:35, Kevin Sullivan21:56, Stefanie Slekis182
21 December 201320:51, Bryan Koon22:30, Jodie McGuff76
20 December 201420:17, Kyle Harris25:21, Jillian Heddaeus149
19 December 201520:36, Joseph Garcia23:30, Katie Sherron192
17 December 201620:30, Josh Andrews22:33, Alyson Churchill87
16 December 201720:19, Charlie Johnson22:46, Katie Sherron112
15 December 201818:03*, Charlie Kline22:29*, Michelle Allen136
* The 2018 race was shortened to 5,500 meters because of course conditions.


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