Dutch Fork Be a Fan 5k – Irmo, SC – 1/30/16 -Double Dip Part 2


And on to race number 2…

After hanging around a bit to take some finish line pics and getting some sweet mascot photos with the Cardinal Newman cardinal,  I was off to Dutch Fork.

Like Run with the Saints, the Dutch Fork Be a Fan 5k is also directed by a Columbia Running Club member, Kimberly Taylor. This year’s race not only went to benefit the special needs students at Dutch Fork, but also in memory of Timothy Gibson, a SC DOT worker who tragically lost his life in the October flood.  So, plenty of good reasons to support this race.

Of course, I had shown absolutely zero restraint at Run with the Saints, and I was pretty much toast by the time I headed out to Irmo. Between the warming weather and the fact I didn’t sleep well the night before, (i.e. 4:30 wake up) I was more interested in curling up in a ball and putting in some hardcore nappy time. But hey, let’s run another all-out 5k instead.

I was cursing myself for signing up as a 2 man team with the Code, “Code Blue”, because now if I jogged this thing I was going to let him down. And sure enough, the 30+ minute drive across town was plenty enough to make my trashed legs all tight and gimpy. This was not going to be pretty – though judging from my race pics, it never is.

Kimberly and Frances O’ Toole, who will be taking the race directorship next year, told me the day before that they had about 200 signed up. That’s a pretty good turnout for a 2nd year race with competition from another one the same morning. Always glad to see our people supporting our Tour de Columbia races.

Surprisingly, quite a few other psychos were double dipping this morning too. John Gasque, Tour director and the godfather of the double dip, was already ready to go by the time I got there. He makes sure no traffic jam or any other unforeseen circumstance will get in the way of his precious TDC points. A man after my own heart.  Adam Feigh, who just ran low 16 and barely got beat by Jonathan Kinsey for 2nd at RWTS, was also on board. Check out his blog at https://feighathlon.wordpress.com/about.  Rashad Striggles finished one spot behind Adam and was here along with RWTS women’s winner Shawanna White. Ted Hewitt hadn’t run a race in months but decided to knock out two in one morning. Bravo, Ted. 1966 SEC mile champ Rocky Soderberg may be 73 but still double dips with the best of them. At least I know who I’ll be like in 2049.

Joyce Welch, with son Tate, Angel Manuel, Wayne Shuler, Bri Hartley,  Marie Demetriades (Kimberly’s daughter) , Sara Bonner, Colleen “Don’t call me Mrs. Pale Beast” Vowles, Tracy Meyers, Lisa Smarr, Joe Green, Pete Poore, the O’Toole family, the Golbus twins and Jessalyn Smith were some of the familiar faces and names in this one.

Last year’s course was completely on the Dutch Fork High and Middle campus, making for a lot of parking lot twists and turns. Kimberly helped eliminate two of the main loops by doing an out and back on Old Tamah Road, which was nice, particularly because the road is pretty flat.

My goal: just finish this thing, and hopefully not too shamefully.  Hopefully in the ball park of 20 minutes.

The start was a mad dash down a hill and then a big parking lot loop to thin out the herd some. OMG – the legs, even after a warm up, were just total cinder blocks. After the first half mile I started to assess my position.  It was hard to figure out pace since everything felt like death. I was basically in my usual racing-with-the-high-school-girls mode. No, I’m not a perv (well, mostly not)– all the varsity HS girls run about 19-20 minutes for a 5k, so there you are. About three of them could draft in my oceanliner of a wake , so I’m sure they are glad to have the Sasquatch around.  Anyway, one of the Golbuses and Bri were nearby, so I figured I must be 6:20ish pace. Code was up ahead with Angel. Just needed to keep them in sight. Legs were still hating life on the out-and-back on Old Tamah, but it sure was nice to eliminate some of the parking lot loops. Everything was cool until mile 1 came back at like high 6:40’s. Damn these slacker teens! I was hurting but my ego couldn’t take running over 21 and giving Trophy a chance to return his own “Blackjack” nickname to me.

I pushed the pace some as we plunged downhill into the middle school campus. Speaking of slackers, what the hell was up with the Code?? Normally I’d be relishing the fact he was getting reeled in, but he’s ON MY TEAM.  He’s only a few steps ahead when we hit the first of two killer uphill loops. The first one starts me gasping but the second one is long, painful and just pummels my quivering quads into submission.  Rounding the turnaround at the top and I am just hating life. Mile 2 goes off at some point but I don’t even want to know. On the way back down the hill I am flopping all about and still catching up with the Code. Finally I pull alongside him and I can tell he’s in full crybaby mode, talking about his cold or something. I’m not sure what I said to him in my delirium, but he finally grew a pair and started surging ahead.  One more loop and I think its home free down to the stadium. Nope, another fun incline right before the concession stands has me begging for mercy. Finally we hit the track – Code, myself and a couple high schoolers mired in the shame of getting beat by a couple of goofy, pale 40 year olds. I’m gunning it as hard as I can go, but the shredded legs and blown out lungs are fighting back against this brutal punishment. Finally I make the last turn and sprint to the line, a step behind Code but in front of the last kid of our minipack.  The results look like we ran it together on purpose. I swear there was no handholding and smiles. 20:23, 13th overall, 3rd in AG. But most importantly, FIRST in the two person team category. Sweet – a surprise trophy hunt!

Taking the win and a 19 Tour de Columbia point, double dip day was Adam Feigh in 16:39. Striggles was just 10 seconds behind, with a faster time than RWTS on a harder course. Go figure. Third was 14 year old Jaden Kingsley in 17:49. In the women’s race, Shawanna White notched her 2nd win of the morning and another 75 bucks with an 18:48. Not bad for a morning’s work. The Golbus twins finished 2nd  (Alexa) and 3rd (Ashley).

Age groupers:  Travis Nichols placed 4th overall and 1st in the 25-29. Wayne Shuler and Ted Hewitt took 2nd and 3rd in the 45-49. John Gasque was 3rd in the 55-59. Pete Poore won the 60-64, and Rocky was the champ of the 70-74. Bri Hartley won the 14-16. Sara Bonner took the 30-34 with Jessalyn Smith 3rd.  Colleen Vowles won the 40-44 after a long injury hiatus. Shelley Hinosn won the 45-49, while Joyce took 3rd despite pacing son Tate. Tate ran an impressive 26:05 in a super competitive under 10 division led by Storm track team kids. Tracy Meyers won the 50-54 females, while Lisa Smarr did the same in the 55-59.





Run with the Saints 5k and Dutch Fork Be a Fan 5k double dip, Part 1


To the racing obsessed, what’s better than a race every Saturday morning? TWO RACES – the double dip. This kind of racing is not for the faint of heart, but if you have a dark, twisted, maniacal competitive streak (What, me?) then I highly recommend it.

There’s a whole science to the double dip, much like my primary area of study, the trophy hunt. Double dipping is actually kind of cheating at the trophy hunt, since you don’t have to hedge your bets on one or the other. My double dip hints –  Start times need to be at least an hour apart, and usually (unless you are an advanced level freak such as myself) the first race has to be a 5k. Try to pick up your 2nd race packet ahead of time if you can, and make sure your parking spot for race one makes for an easy getaway.

Pretty easy right? Oh, and some say to back off your effort on the races, especially the first, but that is not humanly possible for me. Once the bib is pinned, its on like Donkey Kong.

Race number one on this double dip was Run with the Saints, a new 5k put on by local elite MC Cox to benefit St Joseph’s School. Having a runner as a race director is key, since you can usually bet it will be well done. Plus, this race is one of the many PR friendly flat Shandon rectangles, so definitely a good one for fast times. It is almost identical to Race for the Place next month, except the course is done in reverse.

I made sure to get here early and position my car in a getaway position headed towards the highway. But really, with races two hours apart, I’d have more than enough time to get to Dutch Fork, even with it being on the other side of town.

Race temps were mid 30’s and damn cold despite the forecasted 60 degree day. This place was absolutely crawling with beasts. I think MC called upon all her running friends and set up a Cold Winter’s Day level of competition for this first time event. Lots of 621 Ninjas, Strictly Running team peeps and even Larry’s A team group. It was looking like I’d be struggling to find the top 20. Adam Feigh, Jonathan Kinsey and Rashad Striggles looked to make for an interesting elite showdown for the overall.  Shawanna and Erin Miller would be clear favorites to fight it out for the women’s crown. I was there only 5 minutes and the 70+ AG was already filled out with Arnold Floyd, Henry Holt, Peter Mugglestone and Rocky Soderberg. Ted Hewitt was making his comeback after a long time away from racing. Luke Godwin, Larry Jourdain, Brad Marlow, John Gasque, Melinda Petruzzi, Linn Hall, Mike Compton, Brittany Robbins (with coach Bishop pacing), Drew Williams and Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Sarah and Eric Allers, John Charlton, Robbie “OG” McLendon, Pete O’Boyle, Erin Suttman and John Bradley were just a few of the familiar faces in this brutally competitive field.


The start was a little chaotic since all the kids from the school were lined up on the front row. At least most of them sprinted out, but when they crashed and burned a quarter mile in, I had to do a little Heisman stiff arm on one kid’s shoulder so he wouldn’t get run over by an Albino bus. I’m no elite by any means, but I’m used to a pretty thin crowd around me. I was a total mid packer at this thing though. I couldn’t believe how many people were just throughly, and completely, kicking my ass. The upside to the huge pack was having plenty of pacers. Tigs went out super fast, and it took me most of a mile to pull even with her. I was waiting for some British curse words thrown my way but she was just grumbling about me smiling at her or something. I actually was feeling pretty good – I had several 40 mile weeks put in, so I’m getting my endurance back, despite virtually nil speedwork (outside of races). First mile in 6:18, so about what I had planned. By the time we hit Queen I was starting to hurt some but it was a psychological boost to know we were at least not headed further away from the finish. I saw Luke up ahead and managed to pull even with him, but then he surged ahead. I hadn’t seen Luke race since last year’s Race for the Place, where he crushed me and went sub 19, so I had no idea what his current fitness was. After the turn towards home on Heyward, I managed to finally pass Luke, though I think he was drafting off me for quite a while.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, can draft off my sizable wake. Heyward is the common street for like 10 shandon races, so I know it like the back of my hand. It’s definitely got some roll to it, and I was starting to die on the inclines. Although there were plenty of people ahead, I had managed to break free from everybody, which is a major motivation killer for me. I need a carrot on a string. Luckily I recognized a carrot up ahead in the form of Drew Williams, who I knew was injured and starting to fade just a touch. Mile 2 went off with my new buzz/alarm Garmin 630 but I was too afraid to look – I knew it had to be slower (actually only 6:21 by check after the race). I really wanted my sub 20’s back after a long injury/comeback cycle dating back to October. I decided to push the chips on the table and go all in. The next mile was basically pure torture. I was trying to maintain my form though my lungs and heart were having an MMA cage match against my chest wall. Every now and then the very small rational voice in my head mentioned I might want to save some for the next race later, but the larger, insane voice said to go even harder. I could tell Drew was hurting by the time we hit Bonham, and I finally caught him there. I think he gave me some words of encouragement but I was too busy fighting back death to answer. Just after the pass I spotted another guy with some gray flecks in his hair, who actually looked around to see what stampeding elephant was heading this way. I saw his face and instantly thought – AGE GROUPER. I ramped up the speed even more and entered some dark areas of the pain cave I hadn’t seen in awhile. I saw J-Lybrand volunteering up ahead and I knew it was the final turn. I blasted around the turn with the clock in the 19:20’s and sprinted like a crazed banshee to hit the line in 19:29.  Did one of my long pavement makeout sessions, but in a happy way. First sub 20 in months and way under what I had hoped. I actually managed a technical first in age group, though newly 40 Striggles obviously beat me (3rd overall), and five other guys over age 45 also took me down. 14th overall, 7th masters. Jeezus H this was a tough field.

Way up in front, Jonathan Kinsey fought off Red Shoe Run 10k champ Adam Feigh by 10 seconds 16:20 to 16:30. Not too shabby. Striggles got third in 17:08. The women’s race was very high quality with 4 women under 19 minutes. Shawanna edged Erin Miller, while Erin Suttman beat Heather Costello for third.  Erin must be training hard, as this was well over a minute faster than her time at MLK. John Charlton and Eric Allers also threw down in an epic battle for male masters, with John taking the win 17:34 to 17:56. Linn Hall had a close race with Sarah Allers to take female masters .

Age group honor roll: Brittany Robbins ran 24:29 to take 2nd in the 15-19, paced by Justin. Ashley Sears and Deirdre Maldonado placed 1st and 3rd in the 30-34. Ryan Sacko won among the men. Drew Williams and Luke Godwin took the top two 35-39 spots, while Heather Costello won among the women. Sure enough the 2nd place in my age group was the guy who turned around – Ryan Krietsch. Great, yet another unknown beast in my age group. Eric Allers won the 45-49 ahead of Bob Daley. Tracy Tisdale-Williams took 3rd in the female division. Larry Jourdain and Brad Marlow were champs of the blazing fast 50-54 men. Lisa King took 2nd among the women. Sarah Allers and Melinda Petruzzi won the 55-59 women, while Geary McAlister, John Bradley (amidst a 20 mile training run) and Tommy Kahaly swept the 55-59 men. Robbie McLendon, Peter O’Boyle and Mike Compton took the 60-64 division at 22 minutes and under. Brigitte Smith won the 65-69 women. Arnold Floyd, Peter Mugglestone and Henry Holt won the 70+, all under 30 minutes.

After an awesome selfie with the Cardinal Newman cardinal mascot, I took off for Dutch Fork…(to be continued)










MLK Celebration 5k – Columbia, SC – 1/16/16


This is the 27th MLK race , making it one of the oldest 5ks in Columbia. It’s typically held in January on MLK day weekend, though I always remember my first time doing this race, when it  was postponed until June. It was brutally hot and I died a thousand deaths, producing one of my early race faces for the ages:2010MLK

Savor that beauty for a second.

Despite the ugliness, I’ve always liked this race because its relatively small, local, and put on by a fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) who always provides plenty of volunteers and enthusiasm. One of the knocks against MLK was “the hill”. As in, lets put the start line at the foot of one of the steepest mountains in the 5 points/Shandon area. If you weren’t sucking wind like there’s no tomorrow  a quarter mile in, you were good. Luckily Selwyn and the Strictly running crew stepped in this year and take control of most aspects of the race, including a new “flat and fast” course courtesy of Liz Locke that took out the mountain.


This was definitely a plus, though it most be noted that the course still ran up into Shandon and back, so it just made the climb a lot more gradual. Most of the incline would be the Blossom/King section that it shares with Get to the Green. Still, this long, gradual hill still beat the hell out of the quad crusher of the old course.

I decided I would give this race a full effort. I did Race for Life last week in 20:16 at about 85-90 percent and it felt pretty good. Hamstring is slowly coming around though definitely not back to its typical freakish strength. You gotta have body builder legs if you’re going to carry around 30 pounds more than your racing peers.

Pulled up to the race site my typical hour in advance to scope the field. Already crawling with beasts. This is a Tour de Columbia event and used to be on the Palmetto Grand Prix, so it has historically has been packed with seriously fast peeps despite its small size. This year was no different. Jordan Lybrand was there presumably to take the win.  Erin Suttman, Angel Manuel, both Brandenburgs, Randy Hrechko, Gregory Jones, and  Robbie “OG” McClendon would probably be in my neighborhood. Mike Compton, Roy and Ryan Shelley, Brigitte Smith, Alex Ponomarev, John Gasque, Albert Anderson, Henry Holt, Rocky Soderberg, Pam Griffin, Debbie McCauley and Maria Huff were some of the familiar (and fast) faces I saw just warming up. Naomi Rabon was making a rare running appearance. It was good to see Peter Mugglestone back from a recent health scare. Sadly, Pete Poore broke his streak of 26 consecutive MLKs with a case of bronchitis. No Trophies or Codes were to be found, though plenty of other 40 somethings to make this a brutal masters showdown.

Having no sense for restraint or humility, I toed the line at the front. The start was now right in front of Group Therapy, site of one of Five Points’ most legendary dive bars and ground central for Blue Shoes’ bad decision making in the mid 90’s.  Speaking of bad decisions, I immediately got caught up in going too hard, too fast. Shocker. First half mile is a loop around MLK park, so definitely nice and flat. After going into oxygen debt within 100 meters, I decided to hang back a bit, ever fearful of a repeat case of the Bayler’s Bash walksies. Luckily, a six foot five filthy mouthed Body Pump instructor, better known as Randy Hrechko, was just in front. Although I am considerably wider, he is one of the few people I can draft off with his height. With both of us wearing a grey run hard shirt, I’m sure we looked like a set of freakishly tall running twins.

After the MLK loop is a nice flat and straight stretch on Harden Street through the heart of 5 points. I could see Jordan and Trey McCain locked into an epic two man battle way in front. Just ahead of me, somewhat obscured by a Hrechko eclipse, were Angel, Brandenburg, and Erin. OK… just try and stay with these guys. Mile 1 is right before the turn onto Blossom near bar none, another mid 90’s Blue Shoe landmark. Hit it in 6:20, which, given my current fitness and injury, was too damn fast.

This was none more evident as we hit the Blossom street/King Street combo of hills. Just dying. I briefly charged up ahead of Randy before the whole oxygen thing started to be a problem. The pain was only worse when you finally summit Mt. Blossom only to get a kick in the chest from the King Street hill.  Things finally level out at Hand Middle which was nice. I heard someone shout at me from far away and I swear I was having a Code Brown hallucination, which has since been verified as real. Somehow in my oversized cranium I had convinced myself it was a quick loop in Shandon. This was not the case. Heyward Street is a lot further down King than it looks like on paper. I forget these USATF maps are not to scale. Damn you, Liz.

The turnaround is only one block and we were headed back home. Mile 2 was an ugly 6:43 positive split. Just bleeding seconds everywhere. I tried to pick it up some but the lungs were vetoing that bad decision. At least the gimp hamstring was looser though. Randy used this opportunity to gap me a little but even my pride couldn’t respond. Looks like I’d be dying a thousand more deaths today. At least it was flat all the way to Lee street. I had thought Lee was a total freefall down to the finish, but my pre-race warmup confirmed there is a nasty little hill hidden back there. We make the turn on to Lee and Hrechko is holding strong. I have one last chance to take him on the surprise hill, but yeah, that’s just not happening. He actually ramps it up and overtakes Erin for a little bit, before she comes back and torches it down the hill. I’m flopping all over the place by the time I hit the finishing stretch, which is a freefall into MLK park. They have a great cheering section at the finish, but all I can hear is my own gasping and the taste of lung. Painfully, I see the last seconds of the 19’s fade away in front of me and I cross in 20:12. 7th overall, 2nd in age group and 4th masters.

Not super happy with this since I thought I’d get sub 20 easily. What’s worse is getting smoked by Brandenburg and his dog. I have to hand it to Randy – thought I’d catch him but he held me off.

Winning the race in an epic battle was Trey McCain, 2 seconds over Jordan. Looking at Sarah Blake’s race photos, it came down to the last 50 meters. Third overall went to the front of our pack, with Angel kicking it in to get 19:41.  Erin took 1st female by a few minutes, with Naomi taking an impressive second. She credits her recent half marathon training and neighborhood hills. Sonya Green-Sumpter, who brutally blue shoed me at the 2013 Race for Life, took 3rd. Freaks like me never forget.

In the age groups, Ryan Shelley took 2nd in the 11-14 in a battle with Hugh Willcox. Jordan won the 25-29 since they only went 1 deep in the overall. Makenzie Wilson won the 25-29 women. New CRC’er Deirdre Maldonado won the 30-34 women. Naomi and Maria Huff went 1st and 3rd in the 35-39.

Brandi Bradley took 3rd in the 40-44. Angel and the Sasquatch went 1-2 among the men. JB, Randy and Jonathan Kirkwood swept the 45-49, the fastest age group of the day. Barb Brandenburg and Shelley Hinson went 1-2 among the women. Pam Griffin and Mickie Ishizue won the top 2 spots in the 50-54. Gregory Jones Sr. is on his way back with a win in the 55-59. Alsena Edwards was champ of the 55-59 women. Robbie McClendon and Mike Compton battled it out for the top 2 of the 60-64, with Lynn Grimes winning the women’s division. Brigitte Smith was the 65-69 winner, while Albert Anderson and Alex Ponomarev won among the men. Arnold Floyd, Peter Mugglestone and Rocky Soderberg swept the 70-74, while Henry Holt and Jose Grant won the 75-98, both age 80!










Bayler’s Bash 5k – Bishopville, SC – 12/24/15


This is my 5th year doing Bayler’s Bash since it started in 2010. The race honors the memory of Bayler Teal, a 7 year old boy with neuroblastoma, who was a huge fan of Carolina baseball. He became adopted by the team during their championship run in 2010, though sadly Bayler passed away just before the Gamecocks won their first national championship. The New York Times even wrote an article about Bayler and the effect he had on the team that season: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/sports/bayler-teal-was-south-carolinas-talisman.html?_r=0 The Teal family developed this race to remember Bayler and to support Bayler’s Prayers Endowment, which goes towards the fight against pediatric cancer. It’s always amazing to see the Teals and the Bishopville and Pee Dee community rally around this cause every year on Christmas Eve, Bayler’s birthday.

This is also a great race for runners. The course is a total pancake, like seriously, no hills at all. It’s certified, though a touch on the long side (3.14-3.17 by Garmin). The race holds a special place in the Blue Shoe annals of history thanks to a 3rd place awesome trophy I scored back in its first year. It is also the site of my first sub 19, an all out 18:46 in 2012 that is probably in my top 5 performances of all time.

But let’s be honest…this was not going to happen again this year. I’ve been dealing with a jacked up piriformis muscle for the better part of 6-8 weeks, so I’ve only just started to work in some speed this week in my recovery effort. For those that don’t know, having a ratchet piriformis is both literally and figuratively a pain in the ass. It’s amazing how annoying a little muscle triangle deep in your pelvis can be. I did ok doing some mile repeats this week for team utopia south, so surely that little bit of speedwork would override weeks of sub par mileage and holiday cookie consumption. Absolutely.

Oh, and lets not forget the weather. I took one step outside this morning and I could have sworn it was June. Seventy degrees and 100 percent humidity. I usually freeze my tail off at this race. Not a problem this year. But hey, this is a non-tour de columbia race, with nothing to lose, right? I was going to attack it. It worked in 2012, right? We’ll get back to that in a second.

I got to the race a little later than my customary hour before the start, as Bishopville is a good 35-40 minutes on I-20 from my house. Lots of beasts are already there. Paul Reardon, Lee Moore, Eddie Lopez, Angel Manuel, Curtis Boyd, Gene Grimsley, Mario Alvarez, the OG Robbie McClendon – this was going to be a fast race. A far cry from my trophy hunt 5 years ago. Not a whole lot of Columbia representation – between it being a Christmas sauna and the Tour de Columbia already done for 2015, people weren’t in race mode. Maria Huff (w/ Elijiah) and Kerry Stubbs from Team RWB were on hand. Hou Yin Chang showed up only a few weeks removed from Kiawah.

After a prayer and a few words from Bayler’s dad, we were off. There were a bunch of kids from the local high school championship football team (Robert E. Lee Academy) , who were all going out in 5 minute pace before fading a quarter mile in. Eddie Lopez was way ahead of the field only 100 meters and was killing it. Curtis told me he was shooting for around 20 minutes, but damned if he wasn’t doing sub 6 pace in the first little loop off of Main street. In this same loop is when I determined that today was absolutely, positively, going to suck. I felt like complete death and it was not even a half mile into the race. Legs were cinder blocks, probably not helped by speedwork on Monday and some tempo-ish miles on Tuesday. I was already sucking wind, except it was like sucking air from a Brazilian rain forest filtered through a warm blanket.  I maintained a delusion that things would get better for awhile, and I motored through the mile mark in about 6:15. That would be fine if I was in good shape with cool weather, but yeah, neither of those things were in play. Mile 2 was getting worse, but I had passed Curtis and Angel still was behind me, so maybe I was doing ok. My ancient Garmin (my newest one has a broken strap) decided to die on me after being charged all night. Awesome. A turn out near a cotton field brought a wicked, hot headwind to add to the fun. I kept waiting for this to get better, but I was really, really suffering. I managed to hit the mile 2 mark still holding my position, but then it happened. Between the side cramping, heavy legs and  wind suckage, I just stopped. Perhaps in a vicious karmic payback for making fun of Jennifer Reeves’ walksies for years, here I was strolling down Heyward St like a soccer mom at the local mall. Hundreds of 5ks in, this was my first walk of shame. Oh, it sucked. People are trying to encourage you, but all you want to do is crawl in the fetal position and cry for mommy. It took a good 30 seconds and getting passed by what felt like 10 people before I started jogging again. OK, lets get this done. I was already less than a mile from the finish, so I just worked on trying to catch up with the age groupery looking dude that road killed me last.  Luckily, everybody else was dying in the Christmas summer too, so I managed to catch the potential age grouper, though I was starting to die another death. There was a huge gap after this, and the guy in front of me actually started walking too. He took one look back and saw the half dead Saquatch lumbering towards him, and apparently this scared him enough to get going again. Finally I turned the corner onto Main Street and redlined it the best I could to the finish. I flopped over the line in just over 21 minutes, just completely spent.

OK, so not a proud moment. Basically the perfect storm of terrible weather, being out of cardio shape and probably fatter too, and trying to recover from injury.  Trophy, who I’ve ruthlessly mocked with the “Blackjack” nickname for years (for fading into the 21’s  when he doesn’t train) is going to have a field day with this. Same too for Jennifer Reeves (walksie teasing) and Jennifer Lybrand (going out too fast). Karma just gave me a wicked payback. Better get back on the horse, though -a little race in Massachusetts in April awaits.

Results aren’t up yet, so here’s what I recall. Taking the overall was Eddie Lopez, and I think Lee Moore took 2nd or third. Curtis, Mario, Robbie, Gene, Angel and Paul all won age group glory. Somehow I scored a 3rd in the weird 31-40 year age group.  A 15 year old girl won the women’s race in like 23 minutes and change, so all the Columbia ladies missed a big trophy hunt. Hope to see some more Columbia peeps next year!







Lexington Half Marathon/10k/5k – Lexington, SC – 11/14/15


This is the second year of the Lexington Half Marathon, the second race put on by Jesse Harmon’s Run Hard group, in addition to his resurrection of the Columbia Marathon in 2014 and 2015. The guy must not sleep much because the idea of putting on two major races a year sounds like a metric crap ton of work.

I was in the midst of Kiawah training last year, and had just done the Savannah half the week before, so I did the half in 2014 with Justin Bishop and Kristin Cattieu’s 1:45 pace group. It worked out perfectly with knocking out my long run for the week. I was definitely surprised at Jesse and Ken Lowden’s ability to put together a 13.1 mile course in Lexington that actually wasn’t too hilly. For the uninitiated, Lexington must have been the site of some ancient mountain range because the area is one roller coaster hill after another. But the Lexington half was pretty good, save for a nasty stretch on 378. The caveat being that I didn’t race it.  Still, Ken Vowles spent half the race in a portapotty last year and still clocked a 1:32, so it can’t be that bad.

With all my eggs in the 2016 Boston basket, I haven’t been marathon training this fall, and instead focusing on the shorter stuff. Last week’s Gov cup 5 miler was a big confidence boost that I’m nearly back to where I want to be, though I’ve been dealing with some right hamstring/glute tightness that has been nagging me since. Yes, Tigs, I know, I know.

I was on the fence about which race to run of the three. My trophy studies have yielded that when three races are available, always choose the middle one. The big dawgs choose the longest race, and people just kind of forget about the middle distance. In this case, I actually think there would be a similar undercard factor to both the 5 and the 10, and probably spreading out the field to make both weaker. You can tell I spend way too much time on this completely useless stuff. Alas, the trophy addict must get his fix.

Joe Wilson, ex -Columbian and my random running partner for half of Kiawah 2014, was coming up to run the 10k, so I agreed to put aside my hatred of the 6.2 and give it a shot. Breaking 40 is my last major running goal I set out for myself years ago, and it has eluded me even when I should have already done it. Technically I did it in the last 6.2 of the Orangeburg Rose Fest 12k, but I need to see those 39’s on a results page to make it legit. Either way, I’m not quite in that shape again for this race.

Arriving at the race I heard some reports that the 10k had the smallest field, so the trophy hunt was on. I knew Randy Hrechko was doing the 10k,  so he would probably be my main competition, and I figured Joe would probably take me down since he got his 39:xx at Peachtree.  There’s a huge crowd for this thing, with a ton of people I don’t know. Temps are literally 30 degrees colder than last weekend, high 30’s-low 40’s. I ran by the half start to check out the competition. Eric Ashton is there, so I know he’ll be running this thing solo. Dude is 47 and still running close to 1:10.  Ty Thomas, Michael Nance (1:30 pacer) , Devon Shirley , Linn Hall, Eric Bopp, Lynn Grimes, Jennifer Reeves, Maria Huff, Julia Early, Joyce, Flicker, Trophy, Ivanka and Eliere Tolan, Rick Gibbons, Mike Jensen, Jeanna Moffett , Jennifer Glass, Marlena Crovatt-Bagwell, Jennifer Hill, April Hutto, Ilia Owens, The Fadels, Wendy Hart, Alan Humphries, Jenn Covington, Ken Lowden and Hou-Yin Chang are some of the familiar faces. There was about a 8-9 minute delay on the start but no worries, I still have 20 plus minutes to do a quick warmup. The Code and I join Joe and his friend Danny from Atlanta on a 1.5 mile warmup and get back to the line at 7:54 for the 8 am start. I’m moving my way up to the front when someone tells me I missed the 10k start. WTF??? Sure enough, I don’t see any other 10k bibs around. Although the website said 8:00, there was apparently some announcement at the half start that they were going to have us 10kers go off at 7:45. Well… I missed that memo.

The four of us start running, but I turn around about 100 meters in and we all get the go ahead from Jesse that we can last-second transfer down to the 5k. I know this is going to be an epic timing cluster for Strictly Running, but there’s not much I can do about it at 7:58. I guess the 5k is also a target event for the Run Hard school program, because I am up on the line with a ton of kids, Joe, Code, Danny and Brandenburg.  The start is crazy with all the kids and I feel like I’m a bus among a bunch of speeding subcompacts. One thing is sure – I am just not feeling it. I guess I have to mentally steel myself against the 20 minutes of torture that is the 5k, because I am just hating life from the get go. Joe, JB and Code form a minipack ahead while I wallow in my pool of negativity a few meters back. What’s worse, my hamstring is really not liking the sudden jolt to low 6 pace.


I manage to free myself from the pack of grade schoolers, though there is one stubborn pre-teen that isn’t liking getting passed by a 40 year old Sasquatch. He lingers through the first mile but eventually gets dropped right after the marker. I was debating about doing the unthinkable and dropping out for the first time, since my heart wasn’t in it, but getting a 6:15 on the Garmin told me I could at least pull an ok time. After mile 1 is a plunge downhill on Pond View Lane. Right leg is still tight and I’m fighting against it.  Code has dropped back from Joe and JB and I’m tracking him down hardcore. As I’m trying to gain on Code, some thin African American guy (later identified as  Kennedy Mulinqe) passes me. I’ve never seen him before, but dude looks super fast. I wonder if he was supposed to do the 10k too?  He runs up ahead and takes down the Code too. Damn, now I’m in 5th. My trophy hopes are dying in the cold Lexington air. I finally catch up to Code just before we have to do a little cul-de-sac out and  back.  Dave Hale was there at the turnaround cone taunting, I mean cheering, us.  We’ve caught up to the half and 10k pack by now and its pretty crowded.  Between my tight leg and all the people around doing different paces and distances, I start sinking into Debbie Downer land. What’s worse, we get to make up all that downhill as soon as we get out of the cul-de-sac. I am ready to get this thing over with, but I’ve got no power going up this hill. The sun is beating down on me and I can literally see the Code’s shadow on the ground in front of me. I catch up to Ken Lowden, making it 2 weeks in a row we’re struggling up a hill together. At least I don’t have 4 miles to go like him, though. Mile 2 in 6:30 something.  Finally I reach Barr road and I’m pretty sure its flat and straight to the finish. Kennedy is slowly getting reeled in. By this time, my lungs are blasting but the hamstring/glute is at least a little looser, so I’m not fighting my own body as much. With visions of trophies dancing through my head, I push all the chips in when I can see the church. Kennedy either looks really smooth all the time or just isn’t trying, but I pass by him in a fury of flailing arms and legs. I’m sprinting it out from there, having no idea what this dude can do, and scared to death he’s going to blue shoe the blue shoes. I round the turn into the church parking lot and about blow out a lung hauling tail to the finish chute. The clock has the half time up, but my Garmin spits back a 19:53. 19:51 officially and 3rd overall.

Ok, so not bad for a 5k where I kind of phoned in the first 2 miles. I’ll take it. I don’t think I was any threat to break 40 in the 10 anyway with my bum hamstring. Selwyn Blake was my hero at the finish. I had to go up and explain the whole situation and we ended up giving him a pile of bibs while he’s trying to manage 3 ongoing races. Major props to him for getting everything worked out.


Eric won the half in 1:13, nine minutes clear of the field. Wow. Brandon Derrana was second with TUS’ David Russell third just a  few seconds behind. Devon Shirley took the women’s win in 1:32, with Cruz Figueroa 2nd and Linn Hall 3rd.  Julia Early and Joyce Welch went 1-2 in female masters, while Ty Thomas took 2nd in male masters. Ty was heartbroken when he learned his new 1:28:39 PR was 11 seconds slower than mine. To be fair, mine was on the pool table flat Savannah course.

In the age groups, Kim Hardin took 2nd in the 30-34. Michael Nance won the 35-39 when no one could match his 1:30 pace group. He did nail the time with a 1:29:52. Kenny Culbertson and Eric Bopp went 1-2 in the 40-44, with Ivanka Tolan and Wendy Hart doing the same among the women. Jennifer Conrick and Jenn Covington went 1-2 in the 45-49. Phil Togneri was 2nd inthe 50-54. Rick Gibbons was 3rd in the 55-59, while Alsens Edwards placed 2nd among the women. Rob Kreigshaber claimed the 60-64 by 13 minutes. John Houser was champ of the 65-69.


Jonathan Kinsey showed up for the 10k to destroy all holy grail chances for the mere mortals. His 33:16 was ten minutes clear of the field, with Randy Hrechko taking 2nd. Laura Day had a trophy hunt by winning the women’s race in 50 minutes and change. Peter Mugglestone claimed 2nd masters at age 70. Not too shabby. Tommy and Cheryl Outlaw were champs of the 55-59, with Dolly Rodgers 3rd. Sharon Sherbourne took home the 60-64. Patt Lowden won the 65-69 with Ken Lowden 2nd among the men.


Joe Wilson held off a charging JB to take the win in 19:14. Code got first masters, with Wayne Shuler 3rd. Four out of the top 5 were 40+. Yay for old men. Susannah Cate took the women’s win followed by Sara Bonner and Kristie Mears. Mary Howk crushed a 23:52 at age 64 (81 percent age grade, equivalent to an 18:05 ) to win female masters, with Barb Brandenburg 2nd. Danny Freeman took the 35-39. Beth Tanner placed 3rd in the 45-49 with Tom Tanner 3rd in the 50-54. Tour director John Gasque won the 55-59. Alex Ponomarev and Brigitte Smith were 65-69 champs. Rocky Soderberg won the 70+.










Governor’s Cup Historic 5 miler – Columbia, SC – 11/7/15



The Gov Cup is the granddaddy of Columbia road races, first put on in 1973 with about 300 runners, then progressing to the big event it is today. It started as a 5 miler and 15 miler, but it’s been an 8k and a half for the past 15 years or so. The Columbia Running Club helped found the race, but later let the Carolina Marathon Association (which also directed the Carolina Marathon 1977-2000) take over. Now the CMA hosts the Gov Cup in the fall and the Women’s Heart and Sole 5 miler in the spring.

This year, new Gov Cup race director Ray Renner and the CMA decided to take the race in a totally new direction and hold it in May, though this left the traditional first -week-of-November race date empty this year. To fill the void, they decided to hold this race, a reiteration of the original 1973 5 miler course.


We held a combined Gov cup 5 miler course preview/Columbia Running Club social last month which exposed the masochistic side of those headband and long tube sock wearing dudes 42 years ago. This thing was pretty brutal. I thought the beginning was going to be pretty flat, but it turns out the course went down Barnwell St, which plunges you down into a chasm and makes you hike right back up to Gervais. And just when you’re getting tired, they threw in Saluda hill at the three mile mark. Damn you, 1970’s guys. Our preview also featured a torrential downpour and lightning for dramatic effect.

Speaking of weather, I woke up on race day and swore I must have taken a Delorean ride at 88 mph back to August. Over 70 degrees and nearly 100 percent humidity..in the early morning…in November. WTF?? I was sweating just walking out to my car.  Code and I carpooled downtown and did a couple of miles with our large Team Utopia South presence. I did Barnwell hill at 10 minute pace and was already sucking wind. This was not going to be fun.


By the time we started lining up to the start, I could tell this was the exact polar opposite of a trophy hunt. Beasts everywhere. While Brandenburg was cruising to a 19:47 win at the Spring Valley 5 and 5, I was going to have to compete against the best runners in the state. Eric Ashton, Jud Brooker, Matt Shock,  Ricky Flynn, Justin Bishop, Orinthal Striggles -these are all guys used to winning every race they enter. I’d be lucky to crack the top 20. The women’s side was stacked too with Eric Ashton’s team of Sara Powell and Michelle Ziegler. Greenville sent some of their elites down as well. On top of that, 49 year old 1984 Olympian Zola (Budd) Pieterse was on hand. And these we just the ultra elite. Eric Allers was on hand to make sure I didn’t have a prayer of placing in Masters, along with Toby Selix. I figured I would have plenty of company with Sarah Allers, the Code, Randy Hrechko, Winston Holliday, Linn Hall , Geary McAlister and Ivanka Tolan. Team Utopia also fielded Eliere Tolan, Julia Early, Lorikay Keinzle, Chris Fawver, Travis Nichols and Mike Compton. Mary Lohman, Lynn Grimes, Dave Hale, Shawn Chillag, Chip Lupo, Hou Yin Chang, Ellen Rodillo-Fowler, Brigitte Smith, Jesse Smarr, Kimberly Hardin, Neil Derrick were some of the other familiar faces.

After hearing a few words from WIS’ Judi Gatson and legendary Columbia runner/multi-Gov cup champ/CMA head Russ Pate, we were off. With the super fast field, I got sucked in immediately. I drafted behind Zola for awhile to get the 1984 Mary Decker Slaney effect but then realized she was still way faster than me. We made the first turn and I knew we were going too fast. Tigs and Code were already talking about it behind me, but I was getting locked into a pissing match with a surging Ivanka and Linn. I have a tendency to be too conservative in the first mile, so I made a point to stay with them. I knew Barnwell was coming up soon but my melon head ego wouldn’t let me ease off. We finally hit the turn on to Barnwell less than a mile in and the mountain ahead looked like an absolute spirit crusher.  That didnt stop me from flopping down the preceding plunge downhill, passing the mile marker in tandem with Ivanka and Linn at 6:15.


And the first expletive of the day gets uttered. Yeah..that’s my flat 5k pace, not my hilly as @#$ 5 miler pace. I remember bitching and moaning to Ivanka but she didn’t want to hear it. We were getting slammed in the face with Mt. Barnwell. We passed Barnhill Colony student housing  on the left, which I used to bitch about in 1996 walking there to drink beer with my friend Dan. Racing it at sub 7 pace was definitely less pleasant than that. I reached the summit at Gervais and I’m sucking wind like I’m blue shoeing a finish… except the finish is almost 4 miles away. Linn doesn’t seem to care and is just crushing it. Must be nice to be 80 pounds lighter. I’m fighting through a case of the no oxygenzies for the better part of the next quarter mile on Pendleton and finally catch my breath to hit another hill at the Pendleton-Pickens intersection. I forgot about that little treat. By the time I reach the turn onto Sumter I’ve managed to drop Linn and it feels great to find some flat. Sumter and the Horseshoe is my old student home so I try to pick up some good karma from my past. As if the aura of drinking beer and eating wings will make me faster. Mile 2 was about 6:42 with the nasty hill.  Sumter turns downhill past Longstreet past the old Towers site from my freshman year which is now some high end luxury dorms. Not that I’m bitter, not at all. Luckily I’ve picked up a new pack of a girl and a tall teenaged guy (later identified as Gage Bowman and Ashley Sears) that I can actually draft off a little. We fly down the turn on Wheat and we all seem to slow down as we pass the old Blatt PE center. It always sucks to pass the finish line area in a race, but I think we all know that Mt. Saluda awaits. We remain in a mini-pack through Maxcy Gregg park and I’ts hard not to despair of what is coming up. I feel myself losing concentration and then get pissed and tell myself to man up – time to get this thing over with. I jump out of Maxcy Gregg and go alone out into the street. The sizable elite and sub-elite field has left us all for dead long ago, so it feels like I’m suddenly winning the race of mere mortals. Mile 3 in 6:29. Carol Wallace and Ken and Sheila Bolin are at the Saluda corner cheering, so it was nice to get a boost before I attack the monster. And I mean attack, hard. Ken Lowden is marshaling the course on his bike (having newly minted himself an Ironman in Chattanooga a few weeks ago) and starts up the hill with me. Arms are pumping, lungs are burning, but I figure if I can just get to the top in one piece it will literally be all downhill from there. Ken is powering up the hill on the bike and I try hard as hell to keep up. Shockingly I am able to motor up this thing pretty fast –  all the Team Utopia monday workouts must be paying dividends. I manage to keep up with the bike most of the way and exit out onto Heyward St half euphoric from being done and half wanting to donate a lung or my breakfast to the street.

I fly down Heyward as fast as I can go, fittingly in the same area we do the TUS warmup. I’m still deathly afraid of a Code or Tigs appearance but its gotten very quiet, so I’m hoping the Saluda blast has earned me some distance. Rounding the turn on Pickens onto Enoree I can actually make out Toby in the distance. Wow, must be doing well. Mile 4 with Saluda was 6:42. With flat Enoree and a downhill to Wheat to go, I ramp it up to blue shoe kick mode. The heat/humidity are really making themselves known by now, but its time to empty the tank. They let a car in behind me so I know I’ve got a good gap on my pack. I’m absolutely flailing down the hill that parallels Saluda and almost trip over myself flopping onto Wheat. With the red numbers in sight I go into overdrive. No one to catch, but I see low 32 and sprint it out to get under 32:30, 32:28, 6:08 last mile, 6:30 overall. I make sweet love to the asphalt for awhile but I’m pretty excited about the time. This is a good minute faster than my Race to Read 5 miler a month ago, which was colder and probably about the same hill-wise.  I ended up 4th master and 2nd in the 40-44, so pretty thrilled about getting some bling in such an uber-competitive race. Nice woodcarvings for awards too – very sweet.

Results –

Ricky Flynn crushed the competition by blasting just under 5:00 pace to take the win in 24:58. CIU coach Jud Brooker ran a 25:59 to take 2nd, with Eric Ashton just a second behind for 3rd and 1st masters. Greenville’s Nicole DeMercurio and Dylan Hassett went 1-2 with EA’s Sara Powell taking 3rd among the women.  Zola took 1st women’s masters, with Linn 2nd. Eric Allers took 2nd men’s masters. Geary McAlister and Sarah Allers were grandmasters champs.

In the age groups, Gage Bowman took 1st in the 2-14. Travis Nichols won the 25-29 with Kortni Miller 3rd among the women. Matt Shock and Justin Bishop went 1-2 in the fastest 30-34 ever. Michele Ziegler and Ashley Sears made for a pretty fast women’s 30-34 too. Striggles took the 35-39 by only ten minutes. Toby Selix won the 40-44 followed by the Albino Sasquatch and the Code. Ivanka had a rough Saluda hill but still got 1st in the women’s 40-44. Randy Hrechko and Winston Holliday went 1-2 in the 45-49, while Julia Early showed a blue shoes style kick to win in the women’s division. Chantal Faure won the 50-54 with Francisco Mora and Phil Togneri going 2-3 in the 50-54 men. Lorikay Keinzle took the 55-59. Mike Compton and Neil Derrick went 1-2 in the 60-64, with Lynn Grimes placing 3rd among the women. Brigitte Smith took 2nd in the 65-69, with Shawn Chillag winning the men’s division. Peter Mugglestone took 2nd in the 70-74 while Jesse Smarr won the 75+.





NW YMCA Pumpkin 5k – Irmo, SC – 10/31/15


The Pumpkin 5k is put on by Erin Roof and company at the YMCA and goes to benefit their Annual Campaign to make the Y available to everyone through scholarships and financial assistance. I first did it in 2009 and I’ve run it several times since, including a scorching 42 minute 5k with a complainy 10 year old in 2013.

Little Alex did have a point – the course is pretty brutal and a little long (garmin has been 3.18 consistently), but it being a Y event I could count on it being well done and swagtastic.

Since it was Halloween, I saw they were encouraging costumes for this one. I am typically a purist – dont make me run through color clouds or eat a box of donuts halfway. Running Times not Runners World. Yes, I am an insufferable runsnob. But, I got suckered into buying a Hulk costume in a post-beer Target expedition with three overeager preteens, so I might as well get some mileage out of this thing.

The problem is that I am not the chunky beast I once was, so putting on the oversized green muscle shirt looked pretty pathetic. Like Hulk was dying of some horrible illness. Bonus is that masks have evolved since the 1980’s. The ones from my youth were oppressive sweat boxes for your face, forcing you to breathe through two pin holes until you hyperventilated and were about to pass out. Not to mention the plasticky Gi-Joe sauna suit that left you drenched on a typical 70 degree South Carolina Halloween night. This Hulk mask had padding and was pretty easy to breathe through, and the shirt was fairly comfortable.I even test drove it at Strictly Running’s costume Run for Pizza. This was going to be fine.

I was impressed at the turnout when I showed up on race morning. Erin had told me they were shooting for 800, which I thought was a grandiose delusion on par with something I would see at work. This was a week after Ray Tanner, so I figured it would be tough to get people out 2 weeks in a row. Some people think that’s excessive. BAHAHA. Amazingly, there seemed to be at least several hundred on hand, so hats off to the Roof publicity machine.

After doing a couple of warm up miles with Charlie Clements, I realize that this crowd is really slim on the competition factor. I don’t see any elite types, at least not initially. I ran into Angel and figured he might be eligible for the trophy hunter’s holy grail, the overall win. I mean, the Code is a former champion here, so mere mortals have prevailed in the past. That was all shot to hell when Dimery made his typical last second arrival. And when we finally lined up, there were some front row guys that at least looked really fast.  I figured Liz Locke was going to win the women’s race in a cake walk (though disappointed she didnt choose the Stay Puft costume from the SR run). Alex Ponomarev, Pete Poore, John Gasque, Arnold Floyd, Peter Mugglestone, Brigitte Smith, Rocky Soderberg and  Henry Holt made up a crew that have probably already put in 20+ races each this year. Pete O’Boyle, Karen Manning, Missy Caughman, Lisa Smarr, Wayne Shuler, David Pappas, Shelley and Marion Hinson, Pam Griffin, the O’Toole family, The Petruzzis, and Mike and Kat Hudgins (as Fred and Velma from Scooby Doo) were some of the familiar faces. Todd Heinecke, Paul Sadler and of course Erin and Sarah Roof were on hand as race staff.

At the start line I reviewed the course with Angel. You run up and out of the parking lot and then downhill onto Firetower Rd. From there, a mile of hellish, quad destroying hill, then turn around and come all the way back. Seemed simple enough. Luckily this time I wouldn’t have to endure watching my son getting chicked by a bunch of preteen Southern Strutt girls.

I lined up just behind Dimery and the start was a total stampede with so many people (results had 494, Erin said about 600 total registered plus the kids run). I am trying hard not to hit people, though when you’re nearly 200 pounds and wearing a Hulk costume, people tend to give you the right of way.  The mask made it about 200 meters. It might have been fine at 9 minute pace, but the wind suckage at low 6 was not mask-friendly. In hindsight I should have just ditched it there near the parking lot, but I wanted it for the finish photo. We’ll get to that…

Luckily, the demasking helped a lot with the whole oxygen exchange thing, and I was able to settle in. As usual, there are all kinds of people all around me trying to crush the first mile. Did these dudes even look at the course? I guess not. Liz is taking a page from her SR teammate Jen Lybrand and is blasting it out too. Angel is surprisingly not in the picture. We round a turn near the mile mark and we get our first look at the multi-tiered mountain ahead of us. Oh God, this is going to suck. Mile 1 in 6:15, a little overcooked, but not surprising given the amount of downhill and adrenaline rush of the start.  Once Mount Misery begins the pack gets real thin, real quick. Dimery and three other guys are a whole zip code ahead, but suddenly its just me and this familiar looking guy just ahead. He’s a got a few grays so he’s probably masters and threatening to take my trophy. He must be beaten! Despite the extra luggage of beers and pizza I carry around, I’m surprisingly good on hills. I power up the mountain taking down masters guy and Liz in the process. Suddenly it feels like I’m winning the race, if it wasn’t for the four guys with actual talent a quarter mile ahead of me. Speaking of these guys, they suddenly come into view again on their way back down the mountain, so I’m hopeful the turnaround is somewhere up there soon.

I finally motor over the summit of Mt. Firetower only to realize the turnaround cone is about 50 meters down the other side. Approaching the cone, I exhibit all the finesse of a speeding 18 wheeler trying to stop on a dime. There’s just no way to gracefully turn around on a downgrade at 5k pace. I jolt to a complete stop and try to power back up to the summit again the best I can.  Turnarounds are good for scoping out the competition though. Masters guy (later identified as Anthony Hernandez)  and Angel are on my tail a few yards back. Its looking like one 4 man race for the overall and one three man race for masters. Liz is miles ahead on the women’s side.

The mountain climb has given my lungs a gut punch so I do try to maximize my considerable gravitational advantage for awhile. Unfortunately my gorilla physique is not real efficient in turning that potential energy into kinetic power, because I can hear Hernandez riding me like a circus monkey. It is nice to see everyone on the way down – man this race is huge. I then push it for awhile and lose Hernandez, but then hear a slightly different set of lungs sucking wind. I hit the mile 2 marker and before I can check my Garmin (an ugly 6:42) I look up and Angel takes me on the right. I figure he’s gone out easy and is now going to crush it. I tell him to go get it, but damned if my oversized melon headed ego isn’t wincing from the pride injury. Time to man up. We complete the freefall down the mountain basically side by side. An all-out old man war is in progress. Angel surges on the last two long inclines to the Y, and I follow suit. We are both sucking wind like there’s no tomorrow, Angel now a step ahead. I’m sure I’m giving him rapid-bear-chase nightmares for months to come. I keep telling myself, maybe I can get him in the Y parking lot… except every bit of my being is screaming to stop this torture..and damn I wish I wasn’t carrying this ridiculous mask.  Mile 3 (6:00) chirps back before we even hit the Y, so I know this is going to be longish. We plunge into the parking lot and I am just toast – I’m half worried my legs are just going to crumple in front of me. Angel is painfully close but he is sprinting it out like a beast too…and damn it’s going to be close to 20 minutes. But I just can’t do it. We crash through the finish with me a step behind, flashing my mask in my face for the photo op, looking absolutely ridiculous. 19:57.


Man, I hate to lose, but these battles are what I live for.  No way I drop a 6 flat last mile without chasing someone. Angel is a beast too, so no shame in finishing a second behind him. I’ll take it. Nice tervis tumbler 2nd masters award, even without the first masters cash.

In the overall, the four man race was won by Joe Keitt, Justin Carder and Jeff Spraker – never seen any of them race before. Justin is from Pelion so I wonder if he’s a Coach B product. Dimery finished 4th, though he’s over 10 years older than the other three. Angel, myself and Anthony Hernandez finished 5-7th in the masters race. Liz Locke easily claimed the women’s win, with Ashley Culler 2nd and my former Blue Ridge relay teammate Karen Manning 3rd (and 1st female master). CRC’er Shelley Hinson took 2nd female masters.

In the age groups, Mary O’Toole placed 2nd in the 14-16. New CRC member Sarah Merriman took 3rd in the 25-29. David Pappas enjoyed everyone aging up and took the 35-39. April Hutto said she was “out for a jog” but couldn’t help placing 3rd in the 40-44, with Christina McCarty 2nd. Charley Clements, Marion Hinson and Todd Whalon (dressed as a neon fairy) swept the 40-44 men. Wayne Shuler placed 3rd in the 45-49. Pam Griffin crushed the 50-54. Ken Sekley and Tour Director John Gasque went 1-2 among the men. Lisa Smarr was champ of the 55-59 women. Petes O’Boyle and Poore were 1st and 3rd in the 60-64. Jan Hardwick and Alex Ponomarev were beasts in the 65-69, with Brigitte Smith taking the win among the women. Arnold Floyd, Peter Mugglestone and Henry Holt swept a super tough 70+ division.