This article was taken from our FTC newsletter archives. It was also published in our November 2015 FTC newsletter. Read below about the namesake of our Half-marathon and now 5k race which took place this past Saturday.
Who was Tom Walker?
FTC newsletter, March 1994
The name for the Micanopy Half Marathon is one most track club members, except the long-timers, don’t recognize. Tom Walker was the president of the FTC from 1984-1985. He was a tireless worker for the club and was the first to put the entire membership on computer. In Jim Birdsall’s tribute in the January 1990 newsletter, Tom was described as having “worked almost every race, and he would get the results printed and mailed out to each runner”. For a number of years, Tom and Nick Holler used to run 20 miles on the dirt roads around Micanopy with the goal of breaking three hours for a marathon. Eventually, according to Holler, there was a photo on the wall of Tom’s office of Tom going under the clock at Chickamuaga Marathon. The clock read 2:56.
While doing what he loved, running, Tom died of a heart attack at the age of 38 in May of 1989. It is to the memory of one of our own that the race is dedicated.
Remembering Tom Walker – by Jim Birdsall,
FTC Newsletter, January 1990
I remember Tom well. Tom was big for a runner and he had an odd way of running, a kind of shuffle where his feet never seemed to leave the ground more than six inches. I met Tom many years ago when I called him to give him my racing times in the hope of making an FTC Masters Team. I was a little embarrassed because my times were not exactly earthshaking. Tom reassured me that I’d do just fine and had me on the UF track doing interval miles. It seemed that Tom’s shuffle could do those mile intervals between 5:30 and 5:40.
Nick Holler, one of Tom’s closest friends, tells me that for three years he and Tom would meet (first every Sunday and later every Saturday) to run twenty miles on the dirt roads around Micanopy. The two of them would run a course of “twenty miles and twenty-four hills,” putting water out in advance. Their goal was to break three hours for the marathon. I remember a picture in Tom’s office at the St. John’s beverage Co. It was remarkable picture that I guess I’ll never forget. In the picture Tom is going under the finish line of the Chickamauga Marathon. Over his head is the finish line clock and it reads 2:56 and change. He must have been very proud of that time. It was certainly a testament to what hard work can achieve.
One of Tom’s favorite marathons was the Grandfather Mountain Marathon that starts low in Boone, N.C., and ends up high on Grandfather Mountain. It is billed as the world’s toughest marathon. It is not the marathon to run and set a PR. Tom ran Grandfather Mountain a number of times, the last time edging out his good friends Nick Holler and Bruce Higgins but being beaten by his friend Jon Allen.
A few of us FTC members can recall attending Tom’s marriage to Ruth while we were still in our running shorts because we had just finished a local race. At the time, Tom was president of the FTC so it was fitting that we showed up after a race. I remember that it was a beautiful little church near Archer. We were all too embarrassed to go in so we stood outside and threw rice when the newlyweds emerged.
In Nick’s words, Tom was an “endless worker” for the track club during his presidency from ’84 to ’85. Tom put the entire FTC membership on computer, he worked almost every race, and he would get the results printed up and mailed out to each runner. It was Tom who originated the FTC running caps because without one of those caps he complained about the sweat getting in his eyes.
Last May while doing what he loved to do, running, Tom died of a heart attack. He was 38. He is survived by his lovely wife Ruth, and their three lovely daughters, Angie, 10, Sara, 9, and Anna, 4.
We love you and miss you, Tom.