Runners Take the Lead at Annual Marathon

The sun was barely on the horizon when about 900 runners started onto St. Marks Trail for the 38th Annual Marathon and Half-Marathon on Sunday.

This year marked the race’s highest completion rate. Runners finished the lengthy courses, despite high temperatures and humidity levels. Fewer than 10 percent of registered runners failed to show up. Marking the event’s lowest no-show rate.

Both marathon and half-marathon runners started out on St. Marks Trail, but separated as runners completed the 26.2-mile marathon or the 13.1-mile half-marathon. Both courses were primarily flat and semi-shaded by canopied trees. The race concluded on the Florida State track.

Tallahassee residents Jay Silvanima and Nancy Stedman, husband and wife, served as race directors.

Silvanima has been the race director for the past six years and said he was thankful for the support of the local community.

“We had so many helpful volunteers,” said Silvanima.

Tallahassee resident Linda Zingale, 65, served as an event volunteer. Members of Zingale’s

church, Epiphany Lutheran, distributed cold water to runners and spectators as they crossed the finish line.

“It felt good to be supportive,” Zingale said. “You can see people feeling accomplished as they cross the finish line and it feels good to be a part of that.”

Additionally, Silvanima acknowledged the large number of talented runners who travelled to participate in this year’s race.

“This year, we had some of the fastest elite male runners that have ever entered this event,” Silvanima said. “We [also] had a course record broken for the female record open.”

Leah Thorvilson, 33, from Little Rock, Ark., set the record for fastest female marathon runner in the history of the course.

Thorvilson beat the standing record by more than three minutes. As she finished, Thorvilson attempted to slap the clock reading her record-setting time. Although she missed the celebratory move, spectators continued to cheer her on.

Just three weeks ago, Thorvilson completed the Olympic Trials in Houston, so she said she was worried her  Tallahassee Marathon performance would either be a huge success or huge fatigue-related failure.

“The course was nice; it was very flat and fast,” Thorvilson described. “The people along the route were extremely supportive.”

First place male and overall marathon winner Solomon Kandie, 34, visited from Albuquerque, N.M., to complete the run. Kandie is originally from Kenya. He said he enjoyed running the course despite the high temperatures.

“I’m looking forward to coming back again,” Kandie said. “The people here are so very warm, very kind and very generous and the stations were very well-organized.”

Shortly behind Kandie was second-place marathon runner Matt Flaherty, 26, from Chicago.

“It’s a gorgeous course. I really enjoyed the experience,” Flaherty said. Like Solomon, Flaherty said he was not prepared to run in such high temperatures, but was satisfied overall with his performance.

Several Florida A&M students attended this year’s half-marathon.

Anthony Scavella, 20, a senior political science student from Miami, participated in the half-marathon alongside two other cadets of FAMU’s Army ROTC unit—Pete Falcone, 19, a sophomore physical education student from Ft. Myers, Fla. and Mason Marshall, 21, a senior political science student from Miami. 

Scavella admits he grew weary during the 13-mile trek, but was encouraged by other runners to keep going.

Falcone said he used this half-marathon as training for an upcoming run he’ll complete in March.

“Hydration and stretching are key,” Marshall advised long-distance runners.

Paramedics from Leon County’s Emergency Medical Services were stationed along both routes and at the finish line alongside the FSU Medical First Response staff to quickly handle emergencies.

The less-than-ideal weather conditions caused several heat strokes, but no one was seriously injured.