GCA cross country runner Walker Elrod takes flight to Jacksonville meet

Published 4:31 pm Friday, August 25, 2023

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GCA cross country runner Walker Elrod will run in two races this weekend. One in Jacksonville at 7:45 p.m. Friday, the other in Tallahassee at 8:45 a.m. Saturday morning. 

Elrod will not spend Friday night driving home after the meet, getting back to Bainbridge late, and being deprived of sleep for an early wake-up call the next morning. He’ll be flying.

“I was 17,” said Jimmy Rentz when asked when he got his pilot’s license. “I always wanted to fly when I was a kid… I grew up on a farm watching cropdusters.”

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Rentz, Elrod’s father, will pilot Elrod and Elrod’s mother to and from the Cecil Field Summer Classic invitational in Jacksonville. The meet is at Cecil Airport, the airport they are flying to, allowing the family to walk to the race after landing.

“Most of his out of town races, we do fly,” Rentz said. “Luckily, this one happens to be at the airport, so that’s a good thing.”

The family will travel in a Cessna 182 Skylane. Rentz owns the four-seat, single-engine plane and uses it for his business, Rentz Irrigation.

Elrod will run in the “Elite” race. The race requires all runners to have recorded a sub-17:00 high school 5k to compete or represent a top 40-seeded school. 

“Friday night’s going to be a big competition,” Elrod said. 

He will be representing GCA in the meet. Elrod said his goal is to place in the top 15 and run a sub-16:00 time.