The Born in the USA 4 miler and relay is an anuual event on Independence Day put on by Strictly Running. Run on a modified Cold Winters Day course, the race typically draws a pretty competitive field, though it varies considerably with it being held on a holiday. SR decided to ramp up the elite factor for this race this year by offering “time bounties” of $1000 for a sub 19 and $400 for a sub 20 (21 and 22 minutes for women).
Although I was clearly tempted by the cash for a sub five minute pace 4 miler, I opted for the 2×2 relay instead. Relays have always been phenomenal trophy hunts. Not only is this the undercard of the event, but the impression of most people is that the 2×2 in this race is for people incapable of managing the epically long distance of 4 miles. But they offer 50 bucks for the winner, and I have no shame mowing down soccer moms, beer bellied dads, same day race shirt wearers and kids for the opportunity at glory.
The first time I did the relay was in 2010 with Trophy, with our team aptly named “Trophy Hunting“. I had no idea what to expect and was surprised to see a fairly small crowd at the relay point 2 miles in. I waited for Trophy, who came in way slower than he said he would, but then I realized I was the first person to leave the zone. With sheer lust for the overall win, I about donated breakfast at the finish line but was able to hold the lead. No matter that we were slower than 8 other individuals, we took our 50 bucks and our watermelon prizes with great pride to the accolades of like 5 people who stayed around all the way to the end of the award ceremony. It was beautiful.
I guess other, actually fast, people took note of our ridiculous win, because since then the relay has grown significantly. We were nowhere close in 2011 and I skipped the event last year since I was in Folly Beach.
But “Trophy Hunting” part III was back in action this year. Or maybe not… Trophy had been laying low the last couple of weeks when I text him (Trophy doesnt believe in verbal phone communication) and he’s saying something about a hurt calf. Mind you, this is 48 hours before the race. Before I can decide whether “hurt calf” is really “beach weekend with the girlfriend” or “its too hot“, Trophy gets the Code to sub in for him. Code is a freak about relays. Hand him a relay oppourtunity and he’s as giddy as a schoolgirl. A pale, hairy schoolgirl with a big lump on her ankle, but you get the idea. Trophy Hunting was back in business.
I gave Code the second leg, because historically he’s been faster. Its pretty close right now. We were both going to shoot for under 12 minutes. Leg 1 is kind of brutal though, since you pretty much climb a very long hill right off the bat and then face another nasty incline just after the mile mark. The last .75 of the 3 miles is pretty flat to downhill though.
Code and I carpooled to the race and got there about an hour early. Most of the Columbia scene was there, which tends to be the case for the Strictly races. I had already stalked the registered relay teams and started to get a little excited that we could pull off the upset win. I saw David He (i.e. 17:59 at Jailbreak) had a team, and my suspicions were confirmed that Angel was his teammate when I got to the race. Doh! I could feel my trophy slipping away. Brian Clyburn and Joel Pierstorff (Road Testes) and Ken/Kenneth Vowles (Team AEIOU) were our other known competition. Being the leg 1 guy, I had no idea what the other teams looked like, since everyone starts together with the 4 milers. I was hoping to try and keep Angel in sight.
We started in the decrepit parking lot behind Coplon’s that looks like a war zone. Big pot holes and puddles. I had started in the 2nd row, so I was trying not to go plowing through all the water while avoiding getting trampled from behind too. Just after the mini steeple chase portion is the brutal Trenholm Rd hill. Its not steep but it lasts forever. Its tough for me to cover at 2 mile pace. I actually have no idea what 2 mile pace is, since I tend to run 5ks like a headless chicken anyway, but I figure its 5:50ish. I am definitely not doing 5:50ish on the hill, plus my lungs are trying to find their way out of my chest. Why am I doing leg 1 again??? Fortunately there’s a long decline after you scale Mt . Trenholm with the mile marker pretty much in a valley. They have clocks at each marker and its just over 6 minutes when I get there (actually a 6:08 by Garmin). The wind suckage has subsided slightly. I’m still getting Yergered, which is bothering me since he’s doing the 4 mile. He did say he was aiming for 6 minute pace though. Angel, who crushed me on the hill, is not too far ahead now. Just when I want to pick up the pace to try and blast out the second half, they throw in that aforementioned nasty incline, which starts the gasping again. Long downhill after this. Near the bottom I draw even with Rob and realize I have a half mile to go. We’re both wearing the Team Utopia South singlets so I try to focus on our Monday night 800 meter sufferfests at USC track.
I surge head of the Yerg just in time for a photo op, and then really try to drop the hammer. I’m catching up with Angel, but of course he’s starting to kick it in too. Suddenly I round the corner and the exchange is right there. The clock registers 12 minutes just a step or two before I cross, and Code blasts off like a beast.
After catching my breath, I try my best to guide the Diesel home, but he catches a bad case of the walksies on one of the hills on this “flat and fast” course, so I drop him on my cooldown. If only I hadnt given Trophy the camera at the start. Later I find his son Brady, who’s having a rough day but still battles to the finish. I keep telling him to man up and not be a wuss like his dad. OK, not really.
When I get to the finish , I find the Code ran almost exactly the same split with a total time of 23:59, just breaking the 6 minute barrier. I thought this put us in second, but later we realize there were actually two teams of younger guys even faster than the David/Angel combo, knocking us down to fourth. Damn meddling kids. Its all a moot point anway, because in the relay its winner take all. Brian and Joel’s wives Jennifer and Amanda (aka the awesomely named “ Ovaryachievers”) end up winning the female relay, while the coed division is won by a father/daughter team slower than the Ovaries. Any ladies up for a trophy hunt next year??
4 miler race results from the CRC newsletter, because I’m lazy, and hey I wrote it anyway:
Taking home first place and 450 bucks was the appropriately namedMichael Banks from Charleston. Banks blasted a 19:14 , crushing the course record in 4:49 pace. USC Upstate alumnus Gilbert Kemboi battled Banks most of the way but fell just short in 19:24 for second. USC grad and Pal-metto runner Robert Razick took 3rd in 20:46. On the women’s side, Heather Hunt took overall honors in blazing 5:52 pace at age 38. Heather Costello and Samantha Hughes finished together just under 25 minutes to round out the top 3.
Age group honor roll:Brady Ward managed to endure a Blue Shoed monkey on his back in the second half to claim 2nd in the 2-10. Parker Roof cruised to 2nd in the 11-13 while the Golbus twins dominated the 14-16.“Trackstar” Eddie Vergara had to settle for third in one of the most brutal 20-24 age groups ever, running a 5:43 pace. Even more rough was the 25-29, with Tim Jeffreys taking 2nd behind Kemboi in 21:07. Ridunkulous. Jen-nifer Lybrand ran a strong race and took 3rd on the female side. In the 30-34, Jessica Workman, Amber Todd and Tricia Roland cleaned house, while Team Utopia South coach Justin Bishop made the pace hot by winning the male division. Ja-son Dimery placed second. In the 35-39, Rob Yerger missed his goal time but had his 1st in AG to console him. Ken Cobb thankfully left his pink speedo at home and placed third. Naomi Rabon returned to her runner girl roots and placed 2nd on the female side. In the 40-44, Shannon Iriel continued her tear through the racing season, crushing the competi-tion by almost 6 minutes. The 45-49 had lots of familiar fac-es, with Paul Reardon, Jeff Brandenburg and Greg Howell sweeping the category. Sherry Fadel took 2nd on the female side. Birgit Spann obliterated the 50-54 by exactly eight minutes, while Billy Tisdale and Howie Phan took top honors among the males. In the 55-59, Larry Bates continues to dominate, while Mike Compton picked up third. Lorikay Keinzle was the class of the women’s field, with Carol Wallace finishing second. Lynn Grimes took an easy first in the 60-64, while Fred “Squirrel” Mullen and Alex Ponamarev finished 2nd and 3rd among the men. Del Soule and Ken Lowden battled it out for first and second on the 65-59. Nancee Sneed took top honors among the women. All the top 70+ elites were on hand for this race, with John Sneed winning first over Arnold Floyd and Henry Holt.
But don’t forget us relayers. Two miles all out on this course is no joke. Taking first in 21:11 was the men’s team “RV Champs 2x”, while the decidedly cooler named “Ovarychievers” of Jennifer Clyburn and Amanda Pierstorff took the women’s title in 28:44. First coed team was “Juice Box” in 29:01. Other teams competing included Angel Manuel and David He’s “Run like the Wind”, my Trophy Hunting (with Code subbing in for Trophy last minute), Team AEIOU with Ken and Kenneth Vowles, Road Tes-tes with Brian Clyburn and Joel Pierstorff and Team Weber with Rob Weber and his daughter Katie. Taking 13th overall and first in the costume contest was the middle school beast team “Freedom Foxes run Fourth” of Marie Demetriades and Bri Hartley.