Tallahassee’s Oldest 5K Brings in Thousands
By James Celeste
April showers brought a whole lot of fun to Tallahassee, as Gulf Winds Track Club hosted its 41st annual Palace Saloon 5k run on Apr. 11.
Thousands participated in Tallahassee’s oldest and fastest 5k road race. The historic event is well known for its downhill finish at the Palace Saloon and has been bringing in huge amounts of folks since 1975.
Runners of all ages took their marks at the starting line as they prepared to embark on a 3.1 mile race that started on Jackson Bluff and Dupree Street and ended at the Palace Saloon. Refreshments were served as well as food at the end of the race.
This year’s race had many sponsors that were involved including: the Capital City Runners, Jackson Properties, Life Sport Coaching, Tri-eagle, Orangetheory Fitness and Madison Social. Participants were also running for chances in prizes. One of the sponsors, Capital City Runners, offered a cash prize to each of the race winners in their categories. The awards were given to overall male and female, male and female masters (ages 40-49) and male and female Grand Masters (ages 50 and up). The maximum prize of the giveaway was $100 dollars.
Along with the participants, volunteers gave a hand in the 5k run.
“The volunteers have been working this race for so many years and they continue to come back, and get stuff done,” said race director Michael Burns.
Ray Hanlan a former participant in the race and now a proud volunteer has been a part of Gulf Winds Track Club, 20-plus years.
“I know I keep volunteering because I use to run. Someone had to volunteer when I was running. So now I can’t run and so I try to volunteer so that they can,” said Hanlan. “This race is a good thing all around, it keeps people in shape keeps your mind right.”
Palace Saloon has had many notable runners, including at least four female Olympic athletes. The most recent was Anna Pichrtova, winner of the Palace women’s title in 2000. She also ran for Czechoslovakia in the 2004 Olympic Games.
After the race, it became more of a party like atmosphere with a band playing. Everyone seemed to be mingling and getting to know one another as a community.
Chadwick McCauley, who runs with Orangetheory Fitness, mentioned how the race brings people together, especially folks who are into fitness and running.
“We know Tallahassee runners look forward to this race every year because the course has only four turns, is nearly flat and very fast,” Burns said. “We’re looking forward to another year full of fun and fast times.”