Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon – Spirit Communications Park – Columbia, SC – 10/22/16


The Famously Hot Half Marathon is the latest addition to Palmetto Health Foundation’s Walk for Life series, which originally started in 1991. A few years ago they tacked on a 5k and then a 10k to the walk, and its been a mainstay on the Blue Shoes calendar ever since. Its cool to see literally thousands of walkers fill the streets after the race, and my family (they do actually exist) has often done the walk while I selfishly go for age group glory on the flat and fast course. Here’s a pic below, for which I suggest you wear sunglasses before viewing:


Damn, we’re white.  The old 5k course was awesome, but the 10k they added later was absolutely brutal. This year, they decided to go big and add a half marathon, plus move the whole thing from Finley park to the new Fireflies stadium.

I somehow got suckered into running the Kiawah Half in December, so I started the training about a month ago. The smart thing may have been to race the 10k with the limited training lead up to this event, but sound, rational decision making is not my forte. Four days before the event, I had a couple of beers and committed my most common crime: RRUI (Race registering under the influence). I was going to do the half.

Half marathons are probably my favorite non-5k race, but they are still kind of scary. You line up for a 5k, and you know its just balls-to-the-wall, 20ish minutes of pain. No water , no gels – just lace it up and haul ass. Halfs actually require some degree of pacing, hydration and nutrition, which my simple racing brain has trouble comprehending. I have found that optimal half pace is actually fairly comfortable, which makes sense since you’ve got to hold it for 90 minutes plus. I had heard from Justin, and from Ken at the race, that the course was fairly flat/downhill until you hit 9.75 miles, and then…not so much. I figured I’d shoot for 1:30 since I was probably not in top PR shape (1:28:27 at Swamp Rabbit this past spring).

I got up at the absolute crack for this race, since the half was going off at 7:15. Temps were surprisingly chilly (40’s) and pretty much perfect for racing. After doing a little bit of warmup there didn’t seem to be any elites on hand. I suddenly remembered that I had missed Ray Tanner the week before with the family vacay to the mountains. I forget normal people actually take breaks after racing. So weak.

It was actually still dark at the start, and 30 minutes before the 5k/10k, so I didn’t see a whole lot of familiar faces. The line was just outside the entrance to Spirit Communications Park. Jen Krzyanowski and Angel were on hand, so I figured they would be good pacers. Melinda Kurhan was up again from Charleston with boyfriend and family, enabling her newfound racing addiction. Anita Recchio, Kyle Addy, Jen Lybrand and Julia Norcia were the only others I could see in the pre-dawn darkness. Angel introduced me to a kid who he said ran 17 minute 5ks and was the fastest in the state.


I’m waiting around for the rest of the crowd to start edging toward the line, when out of nowhere, the gun goes off. Suddenly one guy sprints out from the start followed by me and Angel going WAY TOO FAST right off the bat. The first mile loops right back by the start, similar to Ray Tanner (i.e. another Ken Lowden design). The crowd support is nice but of course it only fuels more poor pacing. The kid blows by right before the mile mark and me and Angel both hit it at 6:33. Whoopsy. That’s going to suck later (FYI 1:30 pace is 6:54) . A teenager in sweatpants is in our mini pack and actually breaks away from us as we leave the park area and go out onto Harden extension near the hospital. Damn, I’m already getting smoked by a 12 year old and somebody in sweats. Not a good confidence builder. On Harden st, some unknown tall skinny white guy passes me and joins Angel, who has started to gap me too. Even though we are at the front, me being in the back of thid pack feels like I’m dead last. Sprint guy is still far ahead but definitely not going sub 6 like he was out of the gates. Mile 2 comes back in 6:52, so back on track pace wise. The course then does a mile ripped out of the Bunny Hop course, followed by a long trek on Calhoun St from the original Finley Park based Race for Life. A bit of a cross breeze but temps feel awesome. I settle into my high 6 pace and it feels pretty decent.

Until I start hearing footsteps. What dude is tracking me down now?? I glance over my shoulder and see this dude has neon pink shorts and a ponytail. TOTALLY CHICKED. I thought I would know who she was but I’ve never seen her race. What’s worse is she’s wearing earbuds and looks like she’s just cruising through her weekend long run. My ego reels from the bruise to my pride, so I make sure to keep her in range.

There is a long out and back offshoot from the course that brings us by the Palmetto Foundation offices. As I near the turnaround, about 4 miles in , I see the kid out in front just killing it with sprint guy a little behind. Sweatpants still has a lead on Angel and tall guy, with me and female leader a good bit behind.

The next 2 miles are flat, then a huge downhill as you plummet towards Riverfront park. Pace is pretty consistent in the 6:50’s. I was looking forward to Riverfront, since its nice and flat and gives you the option of using the dirt trail. I reach for my GU at about 6 miles in. GU is nice because it can give you a boost of some electrolytes, glucose and caffeine. But as it turns out, the GU is probably less helpful if YOU’VE LEFT IT IN YOUR WARMUP PANTS. Nice job, hero. What’s worse, the Riverfront was perfectly positioned for that brisk cross breeze to be DIRECTLY IN MY FACE. Wind plays a factor for any runner, but when you have the physique of a Greyhound bus, it’s just killer. 2.5 miles of constant headwind start crushing my spirit – my pace bleeds a few seconds upwards and the psychological battle about what’s to come starts to weigh heavily in my mind. At least pink shorts is feeling it too and has gotten reeled in a bit.

Mile 9 is right at the Broad river bridge onto River drive, and its as nasty as Ms. Jackson. Up a pretty decent incline and straight into the sun. My legs hadn’t tasted an incline in 7+ miles and they are none too fond of this. And wait, this wasn’t even the bad part yet. Thankfully we didn’t have to climb all the way up and we took a right onto Lucius road. There was a big water station there where I chugged the fullest cup I could see. I was hoping for a GU angel to come and help, but there was none to be had. I threw the cup in a perfect shot into their trash, did a dork celebration and managed to knock my sunglasses off. So smooth. Stopping and going back to pick them up felt like death, and it was tough to get back on pace. As we continued on Lucius rd, I started getting major flashbacks from the trauma of the See Spot Run/Tame the Beast 12k. Oh noes, we hates those hills.

Lucius starts getting ugly real fast and I realize we’ve hit the much-discussed 9.75 mile mark. The hill, which sucked at See Spot 2 miles in, is just devastating at 10. My legs slow their turnover into the pace of a hunched over mall-walking soccer mom. Probably would have been better to suck it up and walk. You get dumped out onto Lindsey street for a brief respite before meeting her bitchy sister Florence for another incline from hell.

By the time I make it to the summit of Park Street, any chance of the 1:30 is completely shot. I’m hemorrhaging seconds on these mountains and the legs feel like cinder blocks. I plummet down Park street, which at least gave me some wind back in my lungs. Two more nasty climbs on Park and Gadsen have me sucking wind again, but least we are starting to get out of this God forsaken neighborhood (Sorry, Earlewood, I’m sure you’re normally very nice). Just as I approach the Elmwood overpass on Wayne, Sweatpants has officially suffered an epic bonk because he is barely moving at this point. I can only imagine the chafing. After I pass him, I decide I need to payback pink pants for her epic chickage from mile 4. Finally we hit Calhoun street, and I figure its basically all flat to the finish. Blue shoes kick gets thrown down as soon as mile 12 pops up on the Garmin. Legs are so happy not to be mountain climbing that they start actually running again. I start hitting the back of the 10k field, so nice to have some company. Ponytail girl finally gets passed, and I briefly hear her drafting me, suffering an even greater ego blow by getting Sasquatched. From a half mile to the finish, I basically empty the tank. One turn onto Barnhill , a tiny incline and one painful lap around the outside of the stadium. The finish is an awesome run into the stadium, a la Ray Tanner. I make out 1:31 as soon as I hit the outfield  and I sprint it out to the finish near 2nd base, crossing in 1:31:21. 4th overall.

Or was it? I see the results posted soon after and it has a 48 year old woman in 4th with a 1:29. After a protest by Jen K and my verification that “pink shorts” was definitely the women’s winner, they removed the name. Turns out it was probably a half marathoner who switched down to the 10k. No Rosie Ruiz after all.

In the half, the actual winner was the 12 year old kid, but apparently he had just signed up as a walker, so he didn’t get a time. Daniel Hayes, the guy sprinting off the start, held it together and won officially in 1:26. Radek Mittelbach took 2nd with Angel just a few seconds behind in 1:29. In the women’s race, “pink shorts” is actually Holly Smith from Florence, winning in 1:32. Paola Figueroa placed second with Jen K taking 3rd in 1:34. Noel Schuch won female masters with the male masters consolation prize going to some big headed dork.

Half age groups: Jen Lybrand had hoped just to go sub 2 but crushed a 1:44 in her post baby half debut – good enough for 1st in the 25-29. Amos Disasa won 3rd in the 35-39. Marian Nanney won 1st in the 40-44, with Sarah Soltau coming back home from Memphis to win 3rd. Jennifer Conrick and Julia Norcia took 2nd and 3rd in the 45-49 with the same time. Probably holding hands and smiling, if I know Julia. Anita Recchio won the 50-54 with renee McCormick 3rd. Phil Togneri was 2nd among the men. Alsena Edwards and Donna Freeman went 1-2 in the 55-59 women. Ken Lowden won 2nd in the 65-69 men.

10k: Drew Williams placed 3rd overall just a week removed from crushing it at Ray Tanner. Katie Rose and Kathryn Cavanaugh went 1-2 among the women. Matt McGrievy was champion of the 40-44. Chris Fawver rocked a PR in 49:20 to win 2nd. Kana Rahman was 2nd in among the women. Mike Hedgecock and Scott Brewer went 1-2 in the 45-49 men. Mario Alvarez won the 50-54 men. Rick Gibbons won the 55-59 men in the middle of a long run while Joe Robinson placed 3rd. Lisa Smarr placed 2nd among the women. John Houser took 2nd i the 65-69 men. Brigitte Smith won among the women. Peter Mugglestone took the 7o+ men, with Henry Holt and Ron Hagell also on the podium.

5k: Zach Demoya took the overall win with Gregory Jones, Sr. 2nd. Myles Hedgecock was 3rd. SC racing legend Catherine Lempesis won 2nd female overall at age 65. Wow. Thomas Livoti finished 3rd in the 45-49, while Heather Hawn placed 2nd among the women. Greg Howell took first in the 50-54, with Pam Inman 2nd female. Tour director John Gasque was 2nd in the 55-59. Ginger Belka was 3rd in the women’s 55-59. Sue Porter won the women’s 60-64 with Pete O’Boyle and Leeds Barroll 1st and 3rd among the men. Alex Ponomarev won the 65-69. Rocky Soderberg was 2nd in the 70+.





Fallen Fireman 5k – Lexington, SC – 10/1/16


The Fallen Fireman 5k is a second year event, put on by Erin Roof and Eggplant Events, and going to benefit the Jeffrey Chavis burn center in Augusta. Jeff Chavis was a fireman from Lexington who lost his life in a fire in 2001, and his family has put this race on to honor his memory.

I did this race last year, which was delayed by a few weeks due the infamous 1000 year flood of 2015. I was hoping for a trophy hunt with the rescheduling and did end up 4th/1st masters.  I didn’t remember much about it, other than the futile effort of chasing down the Yerg and suffering a thousand deaths on the hilliest course known to mankind. But other than that, it was great. Actually it really was – Erin and Eggplant always put on quality races, and if you’re in Lexington, there are going to be hills. Just don’t go shooting for PRs on this monster.

This year, there was the option of doing Crooked Creek, which actually got postponed this  year for excessive rain. I hadn’t signed up for that one ahead of time, and I knew the Code was doing Crooked anyway. Yerg was doing an ultra in the upstate. Last years champ Jason Dimery hadn’t been doing any recent races. With Crooked and the Lexington Half preview also going on, my overall trophy sense was tingling for Fallen Fireman.

Getting there over an hour early, things were looking good initially. The temps were amazing. The first cool racing morning in months – mid 50’s. Didn’t see a whole lot of familiar faces in my warm ups. The Hinsons were on hand – amazingly Marion had just done a full Ironman the weekend before. That is nuts even by my obsessive standards.  Lisa and Jesse Smarr were racing to celebrate both of their birthdays. Leeds was out to defend his home turf again. John Hauser, Deirdre Maldonado and son Louis,  Joe Roof, Peter Mugglestone, and Cheryl and Tommy Outlaw were some other CRCers out on this near perfect morning for a race. There were a few random fit looking dudes out there that might be out to steal my trophy. I saw one guy with a USC track jacket that pretty much ended my holy grail (overall win) hopes, though.


Fallen Fireman uses the Patty Packs 5k course

There was a pretty nice turnout this year, 200+ I think , and the crowd was a little slow getting lined up. I was busy taking pics when suddenly the emcee guy gives a quick 5 count and GO! Yeah, I was totally not ready. I turned on a dime with my running belt and key in one hand and my iphone in the other. I sprinted out ahead, but it turns out putting this stuff on was a little harder at sub 6 pace than standing still. After a brief moment in the sun for 100 meters, three guys passed me as I took another quarter mile getting the damn belt, my car key and the phone in place. First half mile to this race is a freaking freefall down South Lake drive. I was trying to relax and let my significant gravitational advantage take hold, but also realizing I needed to save as much energy before hitting the brutal parts of this hillfest. I could see USC guy and some other young, skinny guy up ahead going shoulder to shoulder, and I figured these guys were a lost cause as far as my Sasquatch ass catching them. The Red shirt guy just in front had a mere mortal’s physique and I was nervous he might be one of these stealth fit soccer dads that always lurk in the shadows to steal my glory. Luckily,  the first mountain sticks a fork in him right away and I pass him on this hill, which is probably the second worst climb on this roller coaster course.

Mile one is right over the crest of this mountain, split was in 6:34 – a lot slower than my 6:08 blast off from last week, which probably also explains why I’m feeling relatively good at this point. This is fortunate, because the second mile of this course has 90% of the overall pain. Sure, you start off with another freefall, but the rest of the mile is 3 separate up and downs on Church Street. The last of these is the worst, a long soul crushing slog with the mile 2 marker at the summit. Knowing this course, I admit I did a little phoning it in for a while. The two leaders with the cop car were in the distance and there was no one behind me. It felt like I was out for a race pace interval in the middle of a Lexington mountain range. I started drifting off into trying to figure out who USC was going to lose to that afternoon and how Code might be hitting the trophy jackpot up in Chapin.

One thing was sure, all the heat training this summer was giving me a third lung, because this weather was making things so much easier. When you’ve grown accustomed to sweating your balls off in hundred degree humid afternoons, 55 and breezy feels like heaven. The soul crusher at the end of mile 2 wakes me up as I start some wind suckage hauling my Clydesdale butt up this mountain. Mile 2 comes back in 6:31, so actually a little bit of improvement. Probably helped I wasn’t trying to get dressed for the race on the fly like the start.

I wanted to try and rock out the third mile, but climbing the last hill and with no Yerg to chase, it doesn’t seem to be happening. I finally catch my breath well after the turn onto Third street. The course mercifully flattens out for a little, but then I see the street plunge down after we cross Hendrix st from the Race Against Hunger. Damn, I know were going to have to climb out of this hole. Sure enough, another short but quad crushing incline all the way back up to Main Street. I’ve lost the leader but I can actually see 2nd place, so I must have picked it up a bit. With a nice mostly downhill to the finish, I try to ramp it up a bit. At least try and break last year’s time. I hit mile 3 at 6:21 and I have brief delusions of breaking 20 on this hillfest. I throw down as best I can but the legs are pretty trashed. Despite the sprint, I cross in 20:10.  I hate going over 20, but this is about 25 seconds better than 2015, and third overall is nothing to cry about. I think this course is probably 45 seconds to a minute slower than a flat route, so I’ll take it.

In the overall, Greg Lowing  took the win in 17:48. He apparently was injured and usually pulls 15 minutes. Google stalk results = http://www.gamecocksonline.com/sports/c-track/mtt/greg_lowing_879434.html. Second place went to 33 year old William James, whom I’ve never seen race before. Deirdre Maldonado captured the women’s win with Amanda Lyons and Shelley Hinson 2nd and 3rd.  Joe Roof and Lisa Smarr won masters.

Age group glory: I may miss some since the age groups aren’t separated on the readout: Marion Hinson was 1st in the 40-44 with Shawn Sturkie 2nd. Leeds Barroll held off Peter Mugglestone in an epic finish: both won their age groups. Tommy Outlaw was 2nd in the 60-64. Cheryl won the 60-64 women. John Hauser took the 65-69 men. Jesse Smarr got 2nd in the 70+ for a nice birthday present.

I saw this story after a pic I posted of Michael Lambert (3rd place in the 70+)  from the race got a lot of likes – pretty inspiring! Nice job, Michael!


My Garmin readout: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1388318705

2010 Kiwanis 5k (same course):  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/46672198

2016 Fallen Fireman http://georesults.racemine.com/PalmettoTiming/events/2016/fallen-fireman-5k/results

Dry Run 5k – Shandon – Columbia, SC – 9/24/16


The Dry Run has been a staple on the Blue Shoes racing calendar, dating back to 2009. I believe the race is now in its 10th year, and goes to benefit Midlands Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), a substance abuse recovery advocacy group. It’s been well directed for years by Mike Hedgecock of the 621 ninjas and Strictly Racing team.

The Dry Run has held a special place in my heart for a few reasons. Originally it was one of the highlights of my “rookie season”,  in 2009, where I went low 21 and the first seed of the sub 20 goal was planted.  This was back in the awesome years of the most ironic age group award ever, the pint glass. I almost had a full set of 4 Dry Run pints when they someone apparently thought they were in poor taste and they went to a crystal disc instead.  Never one to be shackled by good taste, the three dry run glasses are still part of my regular beer drinking rotation. This race has also signaled for me the start of the fall race season. It’s usually been held in mid-September and has often been the first cool weekend morning of the year.  It’s produced some pretty fast times (for everybody) as a result. Lastly, this was the site of my first race back from cheating death on a cliffside in Hawaii in 2013. I started at the back of the pack, awkwardly ran a near 11 minute first mile. My toe then loosened up, the cool breeze hit my face , the legs started working again, and I began tearing up for being so grateful I was free from the couch. I ran a 26:06 and have rarely been happier.  Geary gave me his age group award to remember it by, and I’ve kept it with my race bag ever since.


Dry Run 2013  26:06

The race was being held a couple of weeks later this year, but as it turns out, Columbia’s summer has been lingering like your drunk uncle at a family reunion. Humid and 70’s at this year’s race when I got there an hour before race time. I had visions of double dipping with the WIL to run 5k at 10 am, but the conditions were rough. Plus, WIL wasn’t on our Tour de Columbia this year, so I felt like the jilted ex-girlfriend.

The Dry Run is kind of a toss up as far as competition goes. It’s usually small, but it sometimes brings out some real beasts.  With Hedgecock at the helm, there’s always a chance of him bringing some of his SR teammates to come out and crash the trophy hunt. Being in Shandon, you never know when fast masters guys named Eric may come out of the woodwork and steal the cash too.

Scouting the competition early on, the only age group threat I could see was, of course, the Code. This summer, the Code wilted at Hot Summer Night, which of course made it open season for me to taunt him for weeks. He got his revenge pretty soon afterward, whipping my tail at Stomp the Swamp and Labor Day. No other 40-44 guys were around, though I saw Eric Ashton warming up with Sara, and Bedenbaugh was being cagey about maybe running too. Eric Allers made an appearance with Sarah, but it turns out they were just watching.  Or were they? That’s how my sick paranoid mind works. Masters hopes weren’t looking too bright.

CRC regulars Jennifer Lybrand, Pete Poore, Leeds Barroll, Alex Ponomarev, All the McGrievys, Peter Mugglestone, Lisa Smarr, Sue Porter, Greta Dobe, Sara Bonner , Mario Alvarez and Deirdre Maldonado were on hand. Ken “THE PALE BEAST” Vowles was making an unofficial comeback from hip surgery by pacing Zach. Colleen, Kenneth and Danny were all racing as well.

I figured I’d race this pretty hard, but I didn’t have any real strategy until I walked up to the line. I was going to jump on Code’s back like a circus monkey. The course is very well known to me – basically a big Shandon rectangle followed by a little one after a painfully close encounter with the finish line. I thought I was crushing low 18 minutes back in 2009 before realizing I still had a half mile to go. Standard Blue Shoes grandiosity.

We take off at the gun and one kid leaps out to the front, followed by another kid, Sara and Eric Ashton, and a couple of pasty 41 year old nerds. Eric is clearly pacing Sara, since he’s not way out in front like the superhuman he is. My biggest question is …why are we just a few steps behind them???. Of course, the answer to this question is the Code and his undeniable death wish in the first mile of a 5k. He’s out there arms pumping, blasting away at sub 6 pace like there’s no tomorrow. Who’s dumb enough to follow this maniac?  This guy. As though this was my first road race, I’m hanging on to Code’s shoulder for dear life, even though I know how ridiculous this is. I mean, I probably weigh the same as the Ashtons combined. Sarah Allers is spectating about a half mile in and is telling us “TOO FAST!” Yep..  At some point soon after, I realize I’m pulling like 5:40ish pace. I finally back off, the unspeakable memory of my walksies at 2015 Bayler’s Bash 5k coming into view in my mind. Code apparently is content to continue his suicide mission and hits the mile mark quite a bit ahead of me. My garmin spits out a 6:08 (i.e. about 19:00 5k pace), which would be fast but OK if I hadn’t included a lactic acid producing 1200 meters of death to start off.

What’s worse is that I am the straggler of a very spread out lead pack, which basically makes me feel like I’m dead last. Letting cars in behind me and everything. We make the turn at King to head back toward the finish and I’m struggling to find some sweet spot of gaining some form of recovery and not letting Code and the others get too out of hand. There’s a long straightaway on Hayward street that is familiar as the 2nd mile in like a dozen local 5ks. It seems fairly flat on paper but it’s actually got a fair amount of roll. The second kid, later identified as Nate from Shawanna’s running group, has backed way off the initial pace and Code and myself pass him near the mile 2 mark. 6:27 split. Not too thrilled with the slow down but the recovery was definitely needed.

With a mile to go, I haven’t made much progress on Code’s lead but it’s remained fairly steady. The legs have loosened up but damned if the lungs still want to suck up all the oxygen in the Shandon area.  There’s a nasty little incline before the “Heyward squiggle”, a quick right and left as the street crosses over Ott. I wake up from a couple minutes of mental napping to realize mile 1 may be exacting its revenge upon poor Code.  I’ve definitely reeled him in some. And, having had the most unfortunate experience of staring at his back for years, I can see his form breaking down a bit. Of course, he knows better than to look back because this has been known to set off many a headless chicken Blue Shoe kick.

Bonham street features not only a soul crushing long incline (a la the Race for the Place downhill start in reverse) but gives you the faux finish line mentioned earlier. I’m sucking a lot of wind by now and Code still has a decent lead. I think my stealth attack was let out of the bag since Jordan is cheering and surely alerts the Code to an impending Sasquatch invasion. We hit the turn onto the little finishing loop and my mind is having an ongoing debate about mailing this in versus going for broke.  Especially when I realize I misjudged the loop with the turnaround a whole block further. But who am I kidding? This blog is not called Tour de Mail it in.  I turn the one block circle around into my own personal  400 meter homestretch at Rio. Right at the corner Code gets passed and he shouts something at me that sounds like, loosely translated,  YOU BETTER F^*&G RUN. The last quarter mile is one big slog up a slight upgrade that sucks any remaining life out of you. I pass Coach B spectating (whose hinting at racing must have been just to see the terror in my eyes) and he tells me to STRIDE OUT!, which probably means I’m looking like a seizing T-rex on cocaine . The morning sun is blinding and I feel like hell, but I’m scared to death of the Code coming back to Blue Shoe me. Fortunately it was not to be. I hit the finish at full speed in 19:25 and do one of my classic Sasquatch pavement flops.  But I make sure to whip out the iphone to capture the Code’s finish. These opportunities don’t come along too often.


Pretty happy with the result – 3rd overall and first masters thanks to Eric not officially racing. Fifty bucks and a Code takedown are always going to make me happy. Despite the average time, I think this is actually a course record for me – I usually slow way down over the summer and take a while to get back up to max 5k speed. So hopefully this bodes well for the fall.

Dustin Corder,a  new SR team member, took the overall win in 18:11, with Sara Ashton claiming the women’s win in 19:00. Colleen won female masters and also was an impressive 2nd overall in a PR time of 21:46.

Age Groupers (only one deep):  The 2-14 was a good day for second generation CRCers with Sabine McGrievy and Danny Vowles winning. Kenneth Vowles paced Danny to a 24:31 and picked up an unexpected age group as well in the 15-19. Nate Carrasco won the 20-24. Jennifer Lybrand was shooting for sub 25 and crushed a 23:23, not even 4 months after giving birth to baby Wilson. She took the 25-29. Sara Bonner won the 35-39 women in an epic TUS battle with Colleen. Code and Brie McGrievy took the 40-44. The 50-54 was claimed by Mario Alvarez and Greta Dobe. Lisa Smarr won the 55-59, with Sue Porter taking the 60-64. Alex Ponomarev won the 65-69 while Peter Mugglestone claimed the 70-98.



2014: https://www.athlinks.com/Events/417157/

2013: https://www.athlinks.com/Events/292017/

2012: https://www.athlinks.com/Events/231232/Courses/322936

2011: http://results.active.com/events/dry-run-5k–6/5k

2010: http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/83411/results/145278/raw#.V-rKGogrIdU

2009: http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/58830/results/96920/raw#.V-rKPogrIdU



Run for Our Troops – Cayce, SC – 9/11/16


The Run for our Troops is a 5k in its 4th year, and is always held in the evening on September 11th, regardless of the day of the week. Based at the West Columbia Riverwalk, the event has become pretty big, with attendance in the 150-300 range over the years. Proceeds go to fund Hidden Wounds (a veteran’s advocacy group for PTSD, TBI and other post-combat conditions) , Team RWB and the host group, Cayce-West Columbia Jaycees.

I actually missed the first couple of RFOT’s, with the odd time and day, but the one last year was really cool and moving, so I wanted to come back. They have a nice ceremony preceding the race honoring veterans and those affected by the Sept. 11 attacks. The course is pretty unique with a finish on the Riverwalk itself.

This year, however, there was a construction issue on the certified course, so they opted for a one-time non-certified route in West Columbia. I noticed this a few weeks ago but didn’t bother to look that closely at it. Yeah…we will get to that.

You’d think I’d have learned from my rough weekend over Labor Day about race prep, but apparently that went right out the window. I have a few half marathons (Palmetto Foundation, Lexington, Kiawah) on the fall schedule, so I have been ramping up the long runs. I missed several weeks over the summer, but started out at 10 last month and got up to 12 last week. I ended up doing 14 on Saturday since there wasn’t a local race, but I couldn’t turn down an offer for tennis that morning either. Between the 14 miler and two hours of tennis in the heat, I was completely wrecked the rest of the day. Somehow my 17 year old brain hasn’t come to terms with the 41 year old body to which it’s attached. At least I took it easy on the beer and avoided getting tortured by a Hrechko-led body pump session. It was not looking good for a Sunday race.   Code was planning to run RFOT but wussed out after the Saturday long run. Typical Code.


I woke up on Sunday and thought I’d be mr. tin man again, but I think all the tennis actually acted as a prolonged stretch/cool down. A little sore but not too bad. I was all good until I left the house for the race that afternoon. Holy crap it was hot. Last weekend was a total tease that fall was here, and summer decided to come back with a vengeance. Like 95 degrees with a nice wet blanket of humidity. Fantastic.

I got there with a little less than an hour until race time, forgetting about the half-hour ceremony beforehand.  The place was pretty packed. I met up with Tracy for a warm up and got my first look at the course. O.M.G.  We started going uphill, then some more hill, oh, and lets add some steeper hill. Sun was beating me down. Eventually we stopped and tried to make sure we were still on course. I could barely see my phone through the blinding inferno in the sky and my oversized head wringing out sweat on my screen, but it turns out we stopped right at the turnaround.  OF THE FIRST HILL. Dear God. Three quarters of a mile straight up.  What’s next? Run back down and do the B avenue Ray Tanner climb just for funsies. At least the rest of the course was mercifully back down to the finish.  We only did the one hill up and down, but by the time I made it back to my car it felt like I had been on a caravan in the sahara. I took down every remaining drop of liquid in my car – the rest of my zoe’s kitchen tumbler of tea and half a cooler of nice warm leftover water from yesterday’s tennis match . Mmmm, tasty.

I ended up missing the opening ceremony with my impromptu drinking binge, instead seeking refuge in the shade near the start with CRC veterans Pete Poore, John Gasque, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Leeds Barroll and Brigitte and Garrett Smith. I’m sure our lifetime races would add up to several thousand. Liz Locke was also taking a rare break from the timing at SR to do a race. Later OJ and Shawanna showed up to dash , yet again, any remote hopes of a trophy hunt. The Yerg was there anyway, so he was probably ruining those chances too. Ever since he got his payback and winning the beer bet at Stomp the Swamp, he’s trying to bet a beer on every race. He may never pay for brew ever again at this rate. RWB brought out almost their whole crew including Omar Armstrong, Michael Beaudet, Jack Brklich, Teresa Shelton, Matt Havens, Joe Greene and Maria Huff. Scott Brewer, the unwitting photobomber of the legendary Code-Blue Shoes Jailbreak finish, was on hand.


Carrie Miller, Melinda, Bob and Reese Petruzzi, Hou-Yin Chang, Ken and Patti Lowden, and Kat Vorhauer were some other familiar faces. Gretchen Lambert and Sammye Locklair are some frequent racers newly popping up on the Blue Shoes age group radar recently.

The start is sudden and off I go at 5k race pace straight up a hill in the 90+ degree heat. Fun times.  Surprisingly, it feels marginally better than my warm up slog, probably because you get at least a little breeze running faster. Striggles and Shawanna immediately shoot to the front followed by some ripped young guy and a mini pack with me, Liz Locke, Scott Brewer, a random shirtless guy and the Yerg. Legs actually feel decent, though I could do without the suffocating wet blanket of Columbia’s famous heat and humidity.  Yerg starts to gap us a bit near 9th street as the hill decides to kick it up a notch. The Yerg may be kicking my ass and taking my beer of late, but I have to at least make him earn it. Plus, you never know when he might pull a Code-esque epic bonk, a la his 2015 Stomp the Swamp or my own 2015 Bayler’s Bash. We reach the top, navigate a short block and then start plummeting back down. Shawanna and OJ are still visible but they are giving the rest of the field their typical beatdown. I feel surprisingly good and I start being all impressed with myself until the Garmin spits back its first split. 6:54. WTF?? Nice half marathon pace mile in a 5k, hero. I try to step it up on the ensuing decline, but I am notoriously bad at going downhill. You’d think a 190 pound boulder would have some serious kinetic energy, though mine seems to get wasted in head flopping, unnecessary braking and assorted Elaine Benes dance moves. It’s not pretty.

We (and by this time I should say “I” since I’m getting left for dead by this point) hit the turnaround with the water station. I would have grabbed a cup but I wasn’t sure if the day-old tennis water and chugged sweet tea wanted the company. I then turn onto B avenue – the site where many a Ray Tanner 12k dream has been crushed. And damn it starts to suck real quick. Halfway up there’s a big patch of sun, a shadeless inferno of pain. Just my brief time in this oven sucks any remaining will to live, sun shining off my oversized noggin like a giant solar panel. But at least I’ve made some ground on shirtless guy and the Yerg, who are now both feeling the pain. I hit mile 2 in 6:39. Wow, I’ve almost made it to 10k pace now.

I know the last 1.1 must be almost all downhill, but I’m having a hard time generating any will to push it. Yerg is still 39 and outside my AG for another 3 months, and surely this random guy is not 40, right? Yeah… again, we’ll get to that. More flopping and albino incoordination follow on the long downhill back to State Street. I keep wishing I could really haul some ass on this part but the B avenue climb has sucker punched me and I’m still trying to catch my breath.  Striggles and White are barely even visible at this point and are way out of the picture by the time I hit State. I forget State has a little roll to it and the last mini incline saps any thought I had of catching shirtless guy. I turn the last corner near New Brookland tavern and I’m very surprised to see low 19’s. I must have really crushed that last mile. But wait, I never felt the 3rd mile buzz on my watch. I hit the finish in 19:46, hit my watch and then see why. 2.98 miles. My new 4.8k PR. But hey, I’ll take it since I knew it was uncertified and this brutal course needs a handicap anyway. Hopefully we’ll get the old course back next year.

In the overall, OJ cruised to a first place finish, repeating as champion from his 2014 win. Devante Kinlaw was 2nd with the Yerg taking home third. Shawanna took the ladies win, just a few steps back from Striggles. Liz won second and Jasmine Harris third. Awesome eagle trophies for the overall winners.

Age group honor roll: Reese Petruzzi placed second in the 2-14. Omar and Matt Havens placed 1-2 in the 35-39. Turns out the guy in front of me was 44 year old Andrew Ortaglia, so I got all of second in age group (3rd if you consider OJ) for being 6th overall. Damn these old dudes are fast. Gretchen Lambert won the 40-44 women. Tracy won the 45-49 women, while Scott Brewer and Jack Brklich were champs of the 45-49 men. Sammye Locklair and Carrie Miller won the 50-54 women. Tour de Columbia director John Gasque won 2nd in the 55-59 men. Mike Compton was the 60-64 champion. Henry Holt scored an impressive 65-98 win, with Ken Lowden 3rd. Patti Lowden and Brigitte Smith went 1-2 among the women.




Labor Day 5 miler -Columbia, SC – 9/4/16



The Labor Day 5 miler is now the standalone race on the holiday, in its 4th year.It’s hosted by Strictly Running and it has now come to rival its other classic races (i.e. Hot Summer’s Night, Born in the USA and Cold Winter’s Day) in popularity. It’s been helped in recent years with some other races going under, like the Blythewood 5k/10k and the Labor Day Fitness Fest 15k. The Chapin Crooked Creek 5k is still on the same weekend, so I usually do a long double dip with these two.

The first year of this race was a big event with some pro Kenyans and a winning time in 24:08. http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/151166/results/256351/raw#.V88hpJgrLIU I was still hobbling from my Hawaii cliff adventure at the time, so I had to skip that one with picture duty only. In 2014 the course got changed a bit with Strictly’s new store, but retained a similar elevation profile. I did the relay that year with my oldest son (11 at the time). Unfortunately that year was brutally hot – I nearly died on my slow 2.5 miler and then my son cursed my name a thousand times on his half (he hadn’t trained at all). I did spot him a lead on most of the field but I think we got passed by virtually everyone.


I finally got my chance to race the whole thing myself in 2015. I couldn’t remember the specifics other than I kind of sucked, but it turns out that my Labor Day activities were not well suited to race preparation. See here:  https://tourdeblueshoes.com/2015/09/11/labor-day-5-miler-columbia-sc-9715/ Hopefully I could remedy that this year. Right.

So lets summarize my “race prep” this year. Thursday: Wings and beer and late night watching my Gamecocks struggle to beat Vandy. Friday: Learning the Crooked Creek 5k was postponed, getting stir crazy, then running 5 miles in the middle of Tropical Storm Hermine. Saturday: 12 miles with the Code, Randy, Colleen, Rick Gibbons and Flicker. Two hours of tennis. Opening Saturday night college football games at our  friends’ house. More beer. Sunday: I swear I was going to rest up. But even though I was a lazy teen, I’m like an ADHD middle aged dude. Had to get out, so I went to the gym. Was almost done with my workout when Randy showed up to teach his Body Pump class. Declined, then got sucked in. 60 minutes of building up lactic acid in every muscle of my body. But hey, I actually felt pretty loose. Quaker Steak and Lube with the fam for dinner. More beer. Monday morning: Waking up like the tin man who got in a bar fight. This was going to be ugly.

But hey, I was already registered, so apparently I’d rather be tortured than simply waste 25 bucks. I got there an hour ahead of time, in the pitch dark (race time was 7:30), and “running hard” was far down the list of preferred activities for that time, headed by sleep and taking ibuprofen. A few minutes later my nemesis/friend Code showed up along with the TortureMaster himself, Randy. Luckily we were all not super thrilled about racing so I got a chance to meet Wilson Lybrand before we warmed up. He’s like the calmest baby ever and will probably be whipping my butt in 5ks in about 14 years. Once we did get around to the warmup, things weren’t getting much better. Felt like David Ortiz had taken some batting practice against my quads. Because learning to do lunges is a great thing to do 18 hours before race time.

This being a Strictly race there were plenty of beasts this year, though not the pros they had in years past. Eric Ashton was on board with wife Sara. Eric was wearing his plain white “I just threw this on but I can pretty much kick your ass anyway” singlet. I figured he had the win in hand without Striggles or Bishop to give him a challenge. Hunter McGahee and TUS beasts Michael Nance and David Russell , along with some other fit younger guys would be battling it out well ahead of me. In my radar, the Yerg would probably give me another sizable beatdown, but the Code, Wilson Harvey, Whitney Keen, Randy and Jen Kryzanowski would surely be near. Chandler Barrett, the 17 year old kid from the Press Box 5k was there, but I haven’t figured out his pace yet. Other familiar faces were Naomi Rabon making a rare road racing appearance.  TUS’ Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Greta Dobe, Mario Alvarez, Kana Rahman, Colleen Vowles, Sheila Bolin, Michael Jensen, Mike Compton, Mike Hudgins  were representing at one of coach Bishop’s benchmark races.  Jim and Sherry Fadel, Linn Hall, MC Cox, Larry Jourdain, Alex Wilcox, Micah Simonsen, Geary McAlister, Pete Poore, Jennifer Glass, Kimberly Hardin, Omar Armstrong, Coleen Strasburger, Caroline and Julia Keen, Pamela Knapp, Kim La, Kelly Ghent, John Zemp, Brigitte Smith, Charlene Fink, Lorand Batten, Alsena Edwards, Arnold Floyd, Lynn Grimes, Melinda Kurhan, Alex Ponomarev, Henry Holt, Carrie Miller, Peter Mugglestone, Reese and Melinda Petruzzi, Hou-Yin Chang, Jessica Weaver, Jennifer Reeves, Debbie McCauley and Kerry Stubbs were some familiar faces at the start and later on course picture duty. Speaking of picture duty, Roy Shelley was on board with Tracy’s awesome camera as official Columbia Running Club photog for this event.

Before trashing my body this weekend, I had two conflicting race strategies that I was mulling over. One was to jump on Code’s back like an oversized monkey and hang on for dear life, the other was to run my own race and hope to catch him at the end (he goes out ridiculously fast). I didn’t see any other of the usual age group suspects, so I figured it was a just a duel of the white and nerdy for the coveted 40-44 crown and first masters not named Eric.

The course is essentially 3 loops – one in Old Shandon behind Strictly, one looping around MLK park and through 5 Points, and one rectangle in Shandon with a finish in front of the Strictly store. The major hill is the Blossom-King incline coming out of 5 points, shared by the Get to the Green 5k in March. There’s also a kind of nasty incline right off the bat in the first half mile, and the usual Shandon slight roll. Overall not too bad, provided you don’t die on Blossom-King.

The start, predictably, feels like death. Cardio is fine but I still haven’t exorcised the bar-fighting tin man from my body. The David Ortiz hammies are begging for mercy. Code has apparently been listening to Bishop and was told to take a chill on this first incline, hanging back with me and Randy. As soon as we hit the turn on Cypress though, he starts taking off. I start to make chase but the thighs vetoed that decision real quick. I let him go but try to keep him in range. He joins a pack with Whitney and Jen K  up ahead and seems to stick with them. I’ve got Wilson hanging with me when I realize he may be trying to return the epic blue shoeing he got on Devine St last year. Randy is still hanging when we go through the first mile in 6:29. This is surprisingly fast, since it feels like I’ve been fighting my lower body the whole way. It’s about perfect for what I should be able to do for 5 miles, so I try and focus on matching that pace. Just after the mile mark is a freefall into MLK park. I attempt to let go a bit on the hill and let gravity pound out some of this soreness. As we round MLK and head out onto Harden, it seems like Randy has fallen back a couple of steps and Wilson is a few paces ahead. It feels good to be on level ground but I know that’s about to change soon. Five Points was built on a swamp so you pretty much have to climb any way you leave the area, whether you’re racing in 2016 or stumbling home in 1995. Or so I’ve heard.


Mile 2 in 6:34, right as you turn onto Blossom. Predictably, the Blossom street hill exacts a heavy toll and I pass a bunch of people who don’t obsessively train on hills. Code is also known for his mountain climbing and I can see him and the Yerg both crushing it. Justin’s Henderson st repeats must be paying dividends. Got to make it to TUS practice more. The half way mark and relay exchange is on King street right before Wheat. I see Linn Hall and Larry Jourdain are actually part of the relay. This makes me feel a little better because Linn was WAY ahead of me and I thought she was taking the start crazy fast. Also, Larry missed the start, ran back a good block to the official line, and still passed me only a half mile in. I run through in 16:34 , which is almost identical to my relay  split in 2014 and 30+ seconds faster than last year, so not too bad (though way off my 5 miler PR) . It’s such a relief to hit Hand Middle School because I know most of the hill work is done. I’m cruising along basically in Wilson’s wake. This drafting would probably work better if I wasn’t like twice his mass, but I’ll take whatever windbreak I can get. We make the turn onto Heyward for a long straight stretch. Drew Williams suddenly appears but he’s not racing , saving a Sasquatch showdown for another day. Code and Yerg are still within sight the whole long stretch, and seemingly getting closer. Whitney has fallen off the back of the pack and seems within striking distance. Mile 3 in 6:43, an expected slowdown with the hill.

By the time we hit the turnaround of the final loop on Ott, I’m certainly sucking some wind, but I’m energized by pulling in some of the field and making some passes. Wilson is killing it and is not letting up, so I use him as a pacer. Mile 4 in 6:38, which I’m not thrilled about. With a mile to go, I start ramping it up because I’m going to have to make a move to catch Whitney or Code. I finally catch Whitney , and surprisingly, Chandler, just before we turn onto Devine.  I figured Whitney was done but I was sorely mistaken. He is not taking kindly to getting Sasquatched, so he latches on to my side and even surges a step ahead. Oh hellz no. I start 1983 Sister Christian MOTORING it on Devine street, thinking this kick is going to leave him in the dust. Nope. He’s matching me stride for stride. By this time we can see the finish line in the distance. Having raced the same stretch last year and many times at Get to the Green, I know it looks closer than it really is. A half mile from the finish, I turn it up another notch, thinking surely this will be the decisive move. Again I get nothing – Whitney is throwing down like there is no tomorrow. By the time we reach about 3 blocks away we are both flailing away at 10000% percent effort side by side. And finally, finally I get a little separation. Those three blocks seem to take forever as my lungs struggle to break free from my chest and my whole body is begging for mercy. Code is just ahead but there’s not enough room to catch him. What’s worse, Wilson has been oblivious to this whole epic cage match because he has blown us both away. I’m scared to death of Whitney blue shoeing me at the line, but I manage to flop across at Mach 5 at about 32:39 a few steps ahead of him. Last split 6:11.

Ended up 2nd in the 40-44 behind the Code. I’m OK with the time given the way I felt at the start, though still a good 30 seconds off my best 5 mile time. There were donuts and beer at the finish, which is way better than most post race spreads. Age group awards were watermelons like Born in the USA, also pretty cool.

In the overall, Eric Ashton crushed the field by a minute at 5:28 pace at age 48. Pretty sure he is not human. Billy Grimes took second with Hunter McGahee 3rd. On the women’s side, Sara Ashton was an easy winner in 29:38 with Tammy Putt and Jennifer Kryzanowski also claiming the podium.

No masters in this race though Code and Colleen would have taken the crowns. Age group honors: Reese Petruzzi was 3rd in the 11-14.  Lindsay Fadel and Julia Keen took the top two 15-19 girls with Chandler Barrett winning on the guys’ side. Wilson Harvey won the 25-29 and must have done about 6 flat in his last mile – very impressive. Jennifer Lybrand is on the comeback from childbirth and is already placing in age groups again, taking second in the women’s 25-29.  TUS’ David Russell and RWB’s Kimberly Hardin were champs of the 30-34. Michael Nance and Rob Yerger took first and third in the 35-39 men. Naomi Rabon won the 35-39 with Pamela Knapp 3rd. Colleen Vowles, Sherri Mims and Caroline Keen took the 40-44 women. Whitney Keen and Randy Hrechko took the top two in the 45-49 men. Tracy Tisdale-Williams placed 3rd in the 45-49 women in a close battle with Heather Hawn. Mario Alvarez won the 50-54 men. Charlene Fink and Colleen Reed went 1-2 in the 50-54 women. John Bradley, Geary McAlister and Hal Ray swept the 55-59 men, while Colleen Strasburger and Alsena Edwards took the top two among the women. Mike Compton and Lynn Grimes both took 2nd in the 60-64. Alex Ponomarev and Brigitte Smith were champs of the 65-69. Arnold Floyd and Peter Mugglestone went 1-2 in the 70-74, while Henry Holt and Jesse Smarr won the 75+.

In the relay, Erin Miller and Larry Jourdain teamed up for a 30:14 finish and first place overall. MC Cox and Linn Hall took the women’s win. Of course, in one of the few years I don’t do a relay in a Strictly race, there are NO MEN’S TEAMS. I could have run it with little Alex again and won. A trophy hunt missed.

And lets not forget the costumes. Melinda Kurhan pulled off a close victory over Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Savage.







Springdale at Sunrise 5k – Camden, SC -8/20/16


The Springdale 5k is a race held near the Springdale horse track in Camden, going to benefit the Kershaw County United Way. I first got interested in this race in its first year in 2009. At that time, it was called the Springdale at Sunset, since it was held at 7 pm, and was actually staged on the horse track itself. All I remember from that race is that it was 94 degrees at race time, and the grass was ankle length the whole way. I died a thousand deaths on that course that night, going out too fast and then almost walking in the last mile. I got into an epic pissing match with Chad Long, with him passing me 200 meters from the finish and then me blowing by him right before the tape. One of my deepest race photo regrets was not buying the whole 8 pic montage of that incident, complete with horrific race faces and a sweaty, bare bellied contortion at line, where I leaned at the tape like an Olympic 100 meter final. Strictly Running, if you have these in your vault somewhere, I will pay a premium for their recovery. I did get the “win” though, a meaningless 8th place over 2 minutes slower than my PR at the time.

2009: http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/55153/results/93778/raw#.V7oXt5grLIU

2010: for grins and giggles: http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/77626/results/126802/raw#.V7odmJgrLIU

But that was many years ago. Sadly, they’ve moved the race off the track and into the surrounding neighborhoods. It certainly has made for a more comfortable race, but they’ve taken away the post race party with beer and music they had in 2009.  I had missed the race for a few years before coming back in 2015, fresh off a summer plagued with injury and low mileage. As my melon headed grandiosity is wont to think, I went out last year like I was in the peak of fitness, only to suffer one of the most painful last miles of all time. I almost walked and ended up with a 20:40, my slowest time in years. To make things worse, Brandenburg was on hand to revel in my shame. See below:


A year later, having had a much more productive summer, I hoped to erase that miserable death march from my memory.



Course Map

The map, of course, doesn’t do the route justice. Basically you drop in elevation almost the entire first half, lulling you into a false sense of confidence. You then make that turn on Forest drive and then realize, oh yeah, this is a loop course and you’re going to have to climb all the way back. Don’t forget you’re in South Carolina in August. Fun times. None of it is super steep, just unrelenting and  when your legs and lungs are toast. Be forewarned.

I showed up on race day my usual hour early, but spent most of it avoiding a warm up in the heat. To be fair it wasn’t super hot , but the rain the night before rendered some sauna-like conditions. 75 degrees and 89 percent humidity per Garmin. Erin Roof and Eggplant Events, along with Start2Finish timing always do a good job with the set up and things were going smoothly. Sadly, I missed the elaborate packet pickup event they had the night before. I’m all for pre-race parties but I wasn’t making the hour round trip to  Camden for that. I was pretty impressed with the horseshoe trophies and post-race waffle station they were setting up.

I did a solo mile warmup and tried to scope out the competition.  Chandler Barrett’s sister from last weeks Press Box 5k points me out as “that guy who wrote the article about my brother”.  Lolz. I didn’t see any adult elites, though Parker Roof was on hand and a pack of teens I assume were Camden high cross country. The holy grail was probably off the table. In my range, there was only Wilson Harvey and Whitney Keen  I recognized. Since I was out of Columbia though, you never know which randoms might come out and steal your trophies. We would see. John Gasque, Rocky Soderberg, Pete Poore, Brigitte Smith were the CRC regulars on hand. Betsy and Chad Long, Kara Clyburn, Martie McCallum (taking pictures)  and Caroline and Julia Keen were representing for the Camden/Lugoff/Elgin contingent. Kerry Stubbs was there for RWB.


In case you had any wonder why I call myself a Sasquatch – photo courtesy of Martie McCallum

Starting horn goes off and we get released on the roller coaster downhill of the first mile. Parker and the Camden kids sprint out ahead of me. As we plunge down the hill, a guy with grey hair and a sleeveless tech shirt pulls alongside of me. I always worry about the superfit soccer dad types but this guy may be another trophy stealer, the aging elite. Aging elites ran like 15 minute 5ks when they were younger but still throw down 19’s in their 50’s and 60’s and take my precious masters points. Dave Geer pulled this trick on me at the Richland RUNS 10k in 2014 – I try to hang with an unassuming 60 year old guy , and he ends up spanking me in 37 minutes and sets at a state age group record. That was before I knew who he was. The guy this morning seems pretty fit but he drifts back at about the half mile mark. As we near the mile mark, another guy pulls up alongside the Albino Sasquatch freight train, who I recognize as leading the high school guys on their warm up run. I tell him how nice it is to have all this downhill, but how that trip back isn’t going to be so much fun. I was just running my mouth but I think it ended up coming out as some kind of psychological warfare. Either way, he drops back just after we pass the mile mark in a brisk 6:06.  Most of the downhill has faded away by this point but at least its flat on 5 Bridge Rd and Brook Dr .

At 1.69 miles is the turn on to Forest Drive and you’d better be ready. Nothing but a gradual incline all the way back. I know its coming, but it still sucks. The pace feels a lot slower as we start slogging up the hill – again, not steep but gradual and unrelenting. Since I spend much of my time suffering on the mountainous entrance road to Sesqui park, I can feel the hill engine kick into gear. Mile 2 passes in 6:18, so still pretty good. I know mile 3 is all uphill. A couple of the kids and some fit-looking 20 something guy have paid the price for their sub 6 first mile as the incline and the warm blanket humidity start to take their toll. I pass these guys and plow ahead, arms churning and trying to lift those legs. By 2.5 miles in I’m starting to hurt pretty bad myself. I keep having hallucinations that the finish is just around the next turn , but I keep getting disappointed until I start checking my watch to prevent any further mirages. I am pretty much toast at this point until I realize the runner up ahead is Parker Roof, and he’s looking back. This gives me a jolt of adrenaline and I try to surge ahead. I start making up some ground but just as I make some headway, the real finish appears. I figure I’m running third and definitely first guy that can legally buy a beer, because there were just high school kids at the front. I see the clock turn over to 19 from way out and I sprint to the finish in 19:28 and change, flopping on the gravel over the line. I just can’t coast on in, apparently. Erin makes sure to capture my gravel road love making in all its ugliness.


Dr. Pasty Thighs


I’m so sure I got third I don’t bother to check the results until Erin tells me Parker took 3rd and was feeling pukish at the finish. I guess turning around and seeing my third mile kick is scary enough to turn the stomach. Turns out there were 2 kids up ahead and I actually took 4th . But hey, I’ve got 25 years on all these guys, so I was pretty jacked. 1:12 faster than last years debacle and first masters – pretty sweet. Good thing Springdale regulars Brandenburg and Bedenbaugh stayed home!

In the overall, Garrett Lawson and Samuel Messinides took the top 2 spots with Parker 3rd. Sharon Cole took yet another win among the women, with Whitney and Caroline’s daughter Julia placing 2nd. Laura Holt placed 3rd. In masters, Kara Clyburn took 2nd without any idea what masters is, since she just turned 40. I told her its awesome to be old. Emily Skufka and Heather hawn placed 1st and 3rd. Whitney Keen took 2nd masters among the men.

Age group honor roll: Wilson Harvey set out to break 20 and did just that with a 19:53 and a 25-29 win. Garrick Douglas placed 1st in the 30-34, with Melinda Kurhan 3rd. Chad Long finally recovered from the 2009 showdown and took 1st in the 40-44. Caroline Keen won the 40-44 women in a very good day for team Keen. My med school classmate Michael Nienhuis won the 45-49 with Mark Chickering 2nd. Joe Roof crushed the 50-54 by 6 minutes.  John Gasque took 2nd in the 55-59, with Pete Poore taking the 60-64. Brigitte Smith continued her domination of the 65-69, while Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg placed 1st and 3rd in the 70+. Great turnout for this race and a big enthusiastic presence by Camden High – nice job to Erin Roof for continuing her awesome race directing with Eggplant.






Philip’s Nighttime 5k – Lake Carolina – Columbia, SC -8/13/16



I’ll admit, this was a complete, unabashed trophy hunt. After suffering a world of hurt at the Press Box 5k, I came home and crashed for a couple of hours. Like zonked out, totally asleep. I woke up and felt a lot better, and then I remembered there was a second Tour de Columbia race that night. My insider sources told me there was going to be a meager turnout, which I expected with the Press Box and 811 races in the morning. I was fully expecting to be doing something that evening, but it turns out my social director let me know there was nothing on the schedule. I tried to resist my addiction all afternoon, but eventually I succumbed to the urge to double dip at the Philip’s Nighttime 5k. This was a race at 7 pm , at Lake Carolina, only about 15 minutes from my house. I was in.

Surpisingly, these delayed double dips are actually more tricky than the more typical morning races in rapid succession. Almost 12 hours is plenty of time to get tight and sore, and to lose all motivation to race. But I had studied under the tutelage of the great double dippers before me, like John Gasque, Pete Poore and William Schmitz, and I was now a total professional. My PhD thesis was the 2013 March triple dip, 3 5ks in less than 3 hours, with a total spanking of Trophy McGaha in the final race. Such a beautiful thing.



I showed up super early to Phillip’s and there were only a handful of people there, none of which I knew. Shannon, Jeff, George and Susannah were there for Jackrabbit Timing. They confirmed only about 20 people registered. Bad for the race, good for the trophies. I have zero shame when it comes to shooting for the holy grail, the overall victory. Plus, Lake Carolina was the scene of one of my few wins, a 2013 New Years day 5k put on by Velocity Distance Project, a one-and-done race with very little evidence of my victory against like 30 other people. I did a solo warmup of about a mile which was pretty miserable. It was just like Press Box only about 15 degrees hotter. To boot, Shannon informed me of the course, which I recognized as the Harborside Lights 5k route. This hilly monster produces slow times even in December.

But maybe I could mail it in. Jonathan Kirkwood showed up, though, and this made me a little scared. True, I knew Jonathan hasn’t broken 20 minutes, but I was weakened and he had put up a good fight at Hot Summer’s Night. Plus, he’s like 60 pounds lighter than me. Damn, I was going to have to try.

There was a bit of a delay in the start, but apparently it was for the RD to assure everything was in place before they got started. I wasn’t complaining, figuring every minute meant a little but cooler. Probably 90 degrees at the start, high humidity. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but we seemed to be starting at a random point in Lake Carolina’s Town Center, away from the Harborside start line. Only about 20 people at the start. Melinda and Reese Petruzzi were also double dipping. Rocky, Jonathan and Katharina Vorhauer were the only other people I recognized. There were a couple of other fit guys that concerned me, but I think both had headphones, which I rarely see with runners under 7 minute pace.

With the start, Jonathan takes off like a beast and I am caught by surprise. It’s not 100 meters in and I’m already running faster than I had planned. The lead cop car pauses at the middle of the divided lake carolina drive entrance road, and Jonathan turns left into the oncoming traffic. Holy crap. I’m hugging the right side of the lane as traffic comes to a momentary standstill. Jonathan starts to veer off to the left at the traffic circle so I yell at him to come back to the course. He responds by jumping right in front of an SUV, scaring me to death. Dude means business. The first mile is almost all downhill through Harborside. Kirkwood is crushing it downhill, like a springy gazelle behind a lumbering grizzly. This grizzly is trying to rein it in a bit because a) I’m not sure how much is in the tank after Press Box and b) the remainder of the course is an unrelenting hell. Ok , I may be exaggerating a bit, but you have to climb right back out of Harborside and then scale a miserable out and back mountain loop.

We hit the bottom of the Harborside loop at the lake and I’m sitting about 10 meters back. We make the turn and the hill going back up hits like a ton of bricks. Mile 1 in 6:23, though it felt faster. Jonathan is still a little bit ahead and I briefly consider the thought of letting him go. It would be nice to take it easy, Jonathan would get the win and everything would be great, right? WHO AM I KIDDING? Yeah, I would probably blue shoe my mom if it meant getting first place. Less than half way up the hill I’ve made up the gap and surge to the front. Oh God – I’m on my own now, hopefully. Just don’t blow yourself up. I’m hurting by the time we finally get back onto Lake Carolina Drive and mercifully there’s an immediate plunge downhill (which I know I’ll get the privilege of climbing back up on the way back).  I hit the bottom of the valley and then here comes the pain. A half mile straight up. The first part seems OK but pretty soon the 93 degree heat starts taking its toll. By the time I near the turnaround it feels like I’m barely moving and sucking some serious wind. Split is 6:43, slowest 5k mile in a long time. I’ll take it considering the double dip and the conditions, though. I’m not sure where Kirkwood is, but I’m sure he’s lurking not too far behind.

Just after the mile 2 mark is the plunge back down the half mile hill. Legs are toast at this point. Just flopping down the hill as hard as I can go. One last steep hill to go. I’ve got nothing left, but seeing the Town Center sign up ahead surges the adrenaline. Rounding the last turn I can make out the clock and I’m shocked to see it still in the 18’s. I can’t hear anything behind me but I make sure to sprint it out to make sure. I cross in 19:15, 1st overall! Garmin shows a super short course at 2.97, which makes sense since we got about a couple hundred meters head start from where we were supposed to begin.


OK, so winning a 21 person race probably isn’t something to brag about, but crossing that finish line first never gets old. Second holy grail of the year! Nice lamp as the trophy too.

In the overall, Kirkwood easily got 2nd in 20:10, followed by Stephen Barlow. Sonya Sumpter-Green won the women’s race followed by Carrie Miller and Sierra Sumpter. Rocky Soderberg and Melinda Petruzzi also scored some trophies, placing 3rd male masters and 1st female masters respectively.  In the age groups, Reese Petruzzi won 2nd and Jeremy Vorhauer 3rd in the 0-14 with Jacqueline Vorhauer 2nd among the girls. Katharina Vorhauer won the 35-39.