2013-2014 Track Shack Running Series Recap
Six races, one man and one woman to rule them all. A journey that started 7 months and 23.7 miles ago came to an end on Park Avenue in Winter Park as over 4,400 registered runners crossed the finish line into the beer garden and post-race party zone. Amongst all the winners who knocked out a hard 6.2 miles that Saturday morning, some would be taking home part of the over $8,000 prize purse available for Track Shack Running Series Champions.
A long and crazy series came to an end with “The Duel on Park” between Men’s Open contenders Seth Proctor and Bill Vanos. Since he spent all fall being shown a clean pair of heels by Paul Nielsen and Vanos, Proctor had spent the spring racing ‘do or die’ – a loss at Run Around the Pines or here at the ZKS Winter Park 10k would mean seeing the title (and a lot of money) go to Vanos. However, a win by the Masters phenom would secure Vanos his place in Running Series history as the first man to win the Open Division as well as the Masters Division at the same time.
On the Women’s Open side defending champ Natasha Yaremczuk held a slightly less tenuous position in the standings than the men’s leader, Vanos. Despite having missed the UCF 5 Miler in the fall, Natasha still held a lead over Heather Schulz. Like the men’s side it was a master’s athlete who was turning heads. The ageless wonder, 46 year old Amy Ertel, was smashing the racing season and had run herself into a secure 3rd place heading into the final event of the series.
With an exciting duel set to play out between Vanos, and the crowning of a champion in Yaremczuk eminent, all the racers set off on their trip around beautiful downtown Winter Park to chase goals, times, dreams, and accomplishments of their own (some having already completed the first 2 mile leg of the day’s Distance Dare!). The race up front saw Vanos and Proctor playing a game of cat and mouse for almost three miles, each trying to figure out the other’s race plan, how they were feeling, and psych themselves up for a big finish. However, rather than chance Vanos’ top end speed, Proctor made a decisive move as the two approached the 5k mark that would see him clear of Vanos by the time the two raced by the historic Alabama Hotel. The women’s race included much less sizing up and playing about as Yaremczuk got right to business from the gun and ran to a dominating 3+ minute victory.
With the champions’ names being put on their checks, the whole of the field began to streak across the Park Av. finish line and into the central park area. Covered in shiny finisher’s medals, draped in Jewett Orthopedic towels, and carrying more pre- and post-race swag than one can handle without a bag runners were able to snag cold popsicles to enjoy in the warm sun from Hunter Vision, smoothies from Planet Smoothie, grab a great breakfast along the avenue, and much more. Adding to the ease of heading into relaxation mode on the gorgeous morning in the park was 16 kegs of New Belgium’s Fat Tire and Snapshot beers, too!
With everyone chatting, eating, and enjoying some cool brews the crowd was set to celebrate the Running Series Champions – from the young Jack Rouadi, to the timeless Sam Maxwell, athletes age 8 to 88 (yes, seriously) athletes were crowned champions in front of their peers. Eventually the call of ‘real life’ became too loud and runners reluctantly left the massage tables, got up from their nice, sunny spots, put down their beers, got that last snack from the special VIP area, and headed off to finally take care of all those little chores that got put on the back burner during the last few months of training.
Thanks to all of you who came out and made this such a memorable year for us at Track Shack! While the Running Series may be over, we’ll still be out and racing at the upcoming IOA Corporate 5k, Run for the Trees 5k, and 4th of July Watermelon 5k – see you on the line!
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