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.








Race to the Press Box 5k – Lugoff, SC – 8/12/16


The Able Club Race to the Press Box is now in its 3rd year, directed by runner and softball mom extraordinaire Amanda Holland and going to benefit Lugoff-Elgin’s Dorton/Evans Scholarship fund. I did the race 2 years ago when it was in May. Then I gave Lady McGaha and Whitney Keen a beatdown after an early challenge, but got smoked by Bedenbaugh and Heather Costello. Heather ended up winning the whole thing.

Last year the race coincided with a couple of other events, so I ended up missing it. To avoid conflict this year,  Amanda moved the race to the current date in August. I am a sucker for small town races – always good for a change of scenery, and of course the smaller crowds amp up the trophy opportunities.

Speaking of amped up, I was pretty jacked about last week’s Hot Summer Night – a 19:15 on a brutally hot night and actually a 2016 PR. Code Brown was so demoralized he had to phone in a 22 minute effort after the Sasquatch pulled away. Even though I knew the Press Box has a longish course (though certified), its rural site and competition with the ridiculously cheap 811 5k sent my trophy sense a-tingling.

So what do I do to prepare? Everything you shouldn’t.  I got home late from work on Friday and did a brisk, hilly 4 miler in the 95 degree heat. Came home in a dehydrated sweaty mess and then left for the Fireflies game less than an hour later. Four bud lights, a crap-ton of really bad ballpark food and a long game with fireworks meant I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight. My 1995 self would scoff at this “night out” but my 41 year old self knew this would not be pretty in the morning.

And oh was I right.  Alarm rang and it felt like I had passed out in the Sahara desert.  All cottonmouthed and the stomach was none too happy. Apparently draining a gallon of sweat out and then replacing it with watery American macrobrew is not a recipe for good hydration. In addition to feeling sleepy-tired , I was double fisting Gatorade and coffee on the way to my morning date with the Lugoff-Elgin stadium restroom.

Luckily, Lugoff is only about 20 minutes from my house, actually closer than a lot of Columbia races. I was still running late though, as my stomach waged an unholy war against the Single A league ballpark soft tacos. Dear God make it stop. I finally emerged sweaty and victorious, but I had less than 15 minutes until race time, so I did a half lap on the track and a few stretches before they called us to the start line. My trophy hopes were dashed immediately with the presence of Columbia’s running power couple, OJ Striggles and Shawanna White. Plus, my nemesis Drew Williams was on hand to probably give me the beat down too. Robbie McLendon, Betsy Long, Melinda and Reese Petruzzi, John Gasque, Pete Poore, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Andrew Lipps, Heather Costello, Brigitte Smith, Caprice Poore and the Robertsons were some familiar faces.


After having high hopes the past week, my race strategy morphed into just surviving by this point. In addition to the tenuous state of my belly, I was facing about 80 degree heat with high humidity. Plus, I knew the course to be slightly uphill most of the second half. Let’s not forget the zero warmup. This was going to be ugly.

Sure enough, the gun goes off and there’s no denying, everything feels like crap. Shawanna and OJ separate out right away with some teenager latching on. Drew and Heather are the next ones back, followed by a few teens and finally me. First mile is a good one for a fast start , since it’s a gradual downhill where you can go hard and not have to brake. Without the warmup, my legs are still ridiculously tight and everything feels sluggish. My morning routine was so chaotic that I forgot my sunglasses, so of course now I’m completely blinded running right into the sun. Drew is starting to pull away but there’s not much I can do.  After replaying this Debbie Downer stuff in my head for a while, I realize we are nearing the mile marker as the course starts to level out. I am sure it’s going to be close to 7 minute pace when my Garmin suddenly spits out a 6:10. WTH?I’m totally confused but I know it’s legit as I know the course. Williams and maybe Costello must have gone sub 6.

The downhill mile must have been good for my system since I think the Bud Light toxins got flushed out and the legs finally start moving again. This is good, because the course is done with its fun and games and is about to get real Janet Jackson nasty in a second. Somehow I manage to pass Heather early in mile 2 and do a few short turns before we hit a long straight hill (I think Critzer dr if I’m reading the map correctly). Suprisingly, I can see Shawanna and OJ up ahead with the lead police car, so OJ is clearly just pacing with her and Shawanna is probably mailing it in too. The teenager has fallen back quite a bit near Drew. We’ve already done some climbing, so I seem to remember that most of the rest of the elevation gain is on this hill, with mostly flat thereafter (editor’s note: this is dead wrong by my garmin data, all slow uphill to the finish). I almost caught Coach B on the hill in 2014 until he had enough of some pasty Sasquatch trying to steal his thunder.

I decide to push most of my metaphorical chips in the table at this point, figuring that the hills have always been my friend. I power up all of Mt. Critzer as best I can, arms pumping and fighting the morning sun.  By the time I reach the top I’ve reeled in Drew pretty close, with the kid not too far in front of him. Mile 2 was right near the summit, 6:25 split. By this time the heat has really built up and I am definitely starting to hurt, my only solace being that these guys went out way faster than me and may be dying more. I finally catch Drew after taking a painfully long time to close the gap. I’m pretty sure he could see my giant shadow lurking behind him. The kid had no idea what was going on because all of a sudden he jumps back in apparent fright when he feels a rabid bear barreling down on him. He looks pretty fit, so I can only think he’s toast for making the very bad decision to try and hang with Shawanna and OJ.  Dude, I could have told you that. After passing him I start to recognize the area near the stadium so I give it all I’ve got…which is pretty much nothing at this point. The engine is overheated and I am dying a slow death. I finally hit the track for the painful half lap to the finish. I usually love the track, but it feels like an oven out in the sun. Up ahead I can make out the red numbers and its getting close to 20. Damn, I forgot this course was a little long (3.16-3.20 by informal survey). I launch into full headless chicken mode, form going completely to hell. I slap my Garmin just as I hit the mat – 19:59.9. YES. I knew Strictly’s timing system would round it up to 20 flat, but at least I could rest assured that ugly display was not all for naught (Ashley from SR also verified a 19:59 and change by the official time).  Mark Robertson captured the horrific scene on video and Nicole captured a race face for the ages:



In the overall, Shawanna took the win in 19:10 with OJ a step behind.  Easy money for both. Sasquatch and the kid (Chandler Barrett)  finished the podium for the guys while Heather Costello and Sharon Cole placed 2nd and 3rd for the women.


Age group honor roll (awards were rubber footballs,  really cool) : Amanda’s daughter Sophie won the women’s 15-24. Heather Costello and Betsy Long won the women’s 35-44 , while myself and Drew went 1-2 among the men.  Andrew Lipps placed 3rd in the 45-54, with Sharon Cole winning among the women.  The 55-64 was a CRC sweep with Robbie McClendon, John Gasque and Pete Poore. Melinda Petruzzi won the women’s 55-64. Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg won 1st and 3rd in the 65-98 men, with Brigitte Smith claiming the women’s top spot.



Hot Summer’s Night 5k – Columbia, SC – Shandon- 8/6/2016


Hot Summer’s Night is one of the oldest races in Columbia, run continuously since my senior year in high school (1993), and is usually the most competitive race of the summer. It’s a companion race to the younger Cold Winter’s Day and put on by Strictly Running, so it’s always high quality.

But…I first ran this race in 2009, and I think I swore I’d never do it again. Not anything against the race organization, it’s just that this race is very, very aptly named. Early August is usually in the deepest depths of the Dante’s inferno we call Columbia in the summertime. This race starts at 7 pm, which usually means it hasn’t cooled down past 90. I was oblivious to these obvious facts in my first attempt, and even brought my whole family out to watch me. My then 4 and 6 year old did the kids run around the Hand Middle School cinder track and loved it. Me, not so much. I went out like a bat out of hell, not having any idea what heat can do to your race times. I was pretty much delirious at the finish – I was walking around moaning and tossing off my shoes, pouring water over myself. Like most of my race performances, it wasn’t pretty. I did manage a 21:36, which was a decent time for me then, but I about donated lunch and my consciousness in the process. I didn’t know hardly anyone at the time, but I see from the results all the beasts were there back then too. And of course Micah beat me by a second. https://results.active.com/events/hot-summer-night-5k–3/5k    Garmin (with post-race delirium included) : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/40235793


With the little munchkins (now almost 11 and 13)


Of course, the suffering fades with time, and inevitably I did the next couple of HSN’s.  Although I was getting much faster at other, non-nuclear-hot races, my HSN course record clocked in at just a shade under 20 minutes (19:56 in 2011). The years since have been interrupted by my family’s yearly week at Folly Beach, so either I wasn’t there or had just returned that day from a week of working out with 12 ounce bottles. The only year we didn’t do Folly was in 2013, where I decided to become an orthopedic trauma case instead.

I thought I might use vacation as an excuse this year, but sadly checkout was 10 am at our rental condo. I was back in Columbia by 1 and even got a nice nap in too. Time to man up. I’ve spent this whole summer ( including at Folly) torturing myself in the oven of late summer afternoons, so hopefully this would bode better than 2009. Last week’s Race for the Case (19:33) was decent, though it did involve getting a beatdown by Drew , wresting the holy grail overall win from my clutches. Damn you, Mr. Williams. Folly training included a Sunday run with the Tiny Terror and the OnShore recreation group – they have a great scenic route and even have beer at the finish. Highly recommend.

I carpooled with the Code in my beat up 2005 honda pilot, mostly to save his sports car/sex machine from what would assuredly be a tidal wave of sweat on the ride home. Beasts from near and far were at this one. I’m not there more than a few minutes before Brandenburg comes rolling up, presumably coming out of his tri season to kick my ass. Luckily, he was just there to work the race, along with most of the other Strictly team peeps (Erin Suttman, Jen K, Jason Dimery, Mike Hedgecock, Jonathan Kinsey, Barb, Linn, Erin Miller and RD Mark Bedenbaugh).  Shawanna and OJ were there on their second race of the day, having suffered the misery (and both winning) of the Little Mountain 5k in the morning. Angel showed up for yet another age group showdown. Randy was back at it after a rough couple of weeks. I was parked next to the Yerg, who has a Blue Shoes voodoo doll ever since my surprise Stomp the Swamp victory last year. TUS was well represented with Kana Rahman, Colleen Vowles with son Danny, Justin “Gary Johnson 2016” Bishop, Roy Shelley, Sara Bonner, Greta Dobe, Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Stephanie “Stevie D” Dukes, Michael Nance, Sheila Bolin, Bruce Edmonds, and Mike Compton. Joyce wasn’t racing but brought her Team Utopia Youth group, a bunch of pre-teens that can flirt with a sub 20 (Connor Forche, Tyler Miles, Camden Forche, Wyatt Wilson, Trapp Bryan, Danny Vowles, Wesley Bumgarne, Ethan Kurtz). Eddie Trackstar,  ex Dutch Fork/current Clemson runner Roland Hakes, Greenville stud Brett Morley and ageless beast Eric Ashton ramped up the elite factor. The OG Robbie McLendon was on hand for race number 2 of the day as well. RU Running brought out Albert Anderson and Gregory Jones, Sr.  I finally saw Howie Phan again after he blew by me at mile 10 in Boston. Good to see Billy Tisdale making a long awaited return after racing mostly in Sumter the past year. Shirley Smith, Ron Hagell, Melinda and Reese Petruzzi, Beau Long, Larry Bates, Ken Bolin, all the McGrievys (Brie, Matt, Sabine and Quentin), Arnold Floyd, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Lynn Grimes, Brigitte Smith, the Weavers (Jessica, Rich and Susan), Kerry Stubbs, Johnathan Kirkwood and Hou Yin Chang were some other familiar faces. Sarah and Eric Allers were on hand to spectate.

After a mile or so warmup, there was no mistaking – this was going to be rough. Totally sweat soaked in 10 minutes. Garmin read it as 91 degrees, 63 percent humidity and a heat index of 105. Yikes. I knew this course pretty well – just a loop of rectangles in the mostly flat Shandon area. Last week’s Race for the Case was basically a preview, using an almost identical route. I figure definitely masters and probably age grouping are not in the cards, so I would try to run my own race.

Liz Locke started us and the pace was insanely fast at the start with all the competition. I’m full of fear with this level of heat but I also don’t want to start too slow like last weekend. Something about 6:20 was my goal.  Joyce’s kids are out in front of me in the early going, so my ego is getting bruised right away. I manage to pull ahead of them after the first loop near Hand and focus on pacing behind Angel. Legs feel surprisingly fresh, coming after a rest day on Friday but also some serious stairclimbing packing up from the condo in Folly. We hit mile 1 right at 6:22 though it felt faster. I keep wondering “where the hell is the Code?”, but in my mind he’s lurking right behind me like a pale, hairy ghost. Mile 2 is always tough for me on this course. You’re still going away from the start and there’s a nasty little incline before the turnaround at Prospect St. At some point Angel falls back suddenly along with Johnathan Kirkwood. The heat is starting to take its toll. I’m definitely sucking wind but I get a major adrenaline jolt seeing the field start to reel back towards me.  Mile 2 comes back in 6:29, which kills me since I thought I was speeding up. I have a vague memory of them giving out mardi gras beads at this point, which I decide against at the last minute. I thought I might have to flash my manboobs or something.With a mile to go I have that rare sense that I have a fair amount left in the tank. Time to push in all the chips if I want to have a glimmer of hope for bling in this one. Ramping up the pace, I pass a bunch of people on the backstretch on Wilmot. Somehow I’m closing in on Mike Nance, which absolutely means something is not right with him (his PR is right around 18 flat). I see Yerg up ahead too, though he seems to be moving at his usual pace. I pass Nance on the last little mini loop before the final stretch on Duncan and run like hell. My early kick is definitely catching up to me by the time I hit Duncan, the taste of death and lungs are at the back of my throat. BUT I MUST HAVE MY TROPHY. Barreling down Duncan I can see the finish line in the distance, with the red numbers providing a cocaine-like jolt through my system.  But wait a second, some joker is not taking too kindly to being Sasquatched. I can hear his footsteps and breathing like a rabid grizzly bear tracking me down. Hells to the no. I had just passed a couple of aging superfit dad types in the last bit, so one of these suburban gladiators was probably trying to rob me of my glory. I fall into one of my finishing teeth-gritting, fist-pumping, head-flopping maniac kicks. Women and children go scattering as they avert their eyes from one of the ugliest scenes in Shandon that night. Up ahead the red numbers flip over to 19 and I blast to the line at 1000 percent effort, flopping like a dead fish on the pavement. 19:16.


I make it to my feet after about 30 seconds and then have to sit on the curb for a second to fight the urge to puke or die. But hey, its my best time in months under absolutely horrible conditions, so I will take it. I’m thrilled to look at the results and see that, inexplicably, I took 1st in age group (though 40 yo Striggles took 1st masters and was obviously ahead of me). Sure enough, 40 year old Collin Webster finished a step behind me in 2nd at 19:18. I guess I can thank him for the many ugly finish photos on facebook this morning.

In the overall, Brett Morley took the win over Roland Hakes 15:35 – 16:05, with OJ Striggles third. Shawanna White was the ladies’ champion in 18:39 to complete her double dip. Emily Letts and Janay Chisholm finished 2nd and 3rd. In masters, Colleen Vowles took the women’s win, with OJ winning among the men. Grandmasters had Alsena Edwards and Gregory Jones, Sr. as champions.

Age group honor roll: Sabine McGrievy took 3rd in the girls 2-10. Connor Forsche won the boy’s 2-10 with Tyler Miles 3rd. Mike’s son Myles Hedgecock won 2nd in the 11-14. Kenneth Vowles placed third in the 15-17. Eddie placed 2nd in the 20-24 men with new TUS member Bruce Edmonds taking 3rd. Jessica Weaver won 3rd in the women’s 20-24. Sean Foerster placed 3rd in the 30-34. Justin and the Yerg took the top 2 in the 35-39 men, while Sara Bonner won among the women. Kana Rahman won the 40-44 women. Tracy Tisdale-Williams was champion of the 45-49 women. Eric Ashton, Randy Hrechko and Johnathan Kirkwood took the 45-49 men.  Howie Phan, Mario Alvarez and Ken Bolin swept a highly competitive 50-54. Greta Dobe was 3rd among the women. Melinda Petruzzi won the women’s 55-59, while Billy Tisdale and Larry Bates went 1-2 among the men. Robbie OG McClendon and Mike Compton took the top 2 in the 60-64 men, while Lynn Gries was the women’s champion. Greenvilee’s David Spark ran an amazing 21:21 at age 67 to take the 65-69, with Albert Anderson and Rich Weaver taking 2nd and 3rd. Catherine Lempesis and Brigitte Smith were the 65-69 women’s winners. Arnold Floyd, Ron Hagell and Rocky Soderberg swept the 70-74 men, while Henry Holt continues to churn out sub 30’s at age 80 for the 75+ win.







Heat Training for Sasquatches


2013 IOP Beach Run 5k with David Lee Roth chest hair

So it’s June in Columbia, which basically means it sucks for running. Our amazing spring weather gives way to a daily ration of soul-crushing, surface-of-the-sun heat followed by a good chance of monsoon like thunderstorms with death lightning basically every day. Road races kind of disappear, and I’m left with either training in this misery, or (GASP) hitting the treadmill. Shudder to think.

This year I was going to do summer right. In the past I just got lazy and slower, but I’m still chasing my dream of the sub 40 10k, so I really want to be in good shape for the fall. I already did my yearly revisit of the treadmill, which of course reinforced my belief that I’d rather repeatedly bang my head against the wall for 45 minutes than ever do that again. Jeezus. How people (cough) Tyler McGaha (cough) do a majority of their running on the dreadmill defies explanation to me.  I saw them all spring at MUV fitness, churning out miles in front of a TV while a sunny 65 degree day sat there outside. Boggles the mind. So it’s outside or nothing for me.

This summer, I’ve developed three workouts guaranteed to improve summer training for the large and pigmentally challenged.

  1. Albino Sasquatch tanning sessions. I’m a large Irish guy, which basically means my tanning ability runs from the dark beige to maybe a light khaki. My genetics would have me drinking ale by the overcast North Sea, not slogging out miles in the South Carolina heat. But I have young kids, which means I have to make at least weekly pool appearances. And I don’t want to be “that dad” with the shirt on in the pool. I may have lost all coolness points my now, but somehow I don’t want to be the shame of the suburban aging guys at the Woodlands pool. Total middle school,  I know. I go from alabaster to beet red in about an hour, so if I can get enough 30-45 minute sessions of sun, I can actually, vaguely, tan. So why not incorporate this into a run and kill two birds with one stone? I park at MUV fitness, run 1 mile into Sandhills across the street and then let the paleness fly out in the relative seclusion of the park. Four miles in the blazing sun in the open field, then shirt back on for the run back to MUV.  I don’t want to scare women and children. To date, this workout has produced decent results, at least with heat acclimation. Unfortunately, I did one of these on a Tuesday, which just happens to coincide with the weekly Northeast Farmers market. I’m in the middle of my mile loop, pushing the pace, when all of a sudden I make a turn and I’m putting on a pasty, sweaty show for about 50 people. My deepest apologies. At least the portapotty for the market stays there all summer, providing a safety net for code browns, albeit at 120 nose destroying degrees. Bikram pooping is a thing, apparently.

Photo courtesy of Liz Locke

2.  Sesqui hill training – They say hills are speedwork in disguise, so I figure hitting the double combo of  Mt Sesqui (the entrance road) and Sand HELL (Brandenburg’s torture trail paralleling Mt Sesqui) are a good way to get some quality runs in without overheating too much. I generally take these pretty easy, and they make good scouting runs for the annual CRC sufferfest route. I’ve done this combo a number of times, so last week I was feeling pretty cocky and went back to do Sand HELL one more time after leaving Brandenburg a sand note at his gate. I’m cruising along when I suddenly realize it’s after 6 pm and I was going to meet my college roommate/drinking buddy Ryan at 6:30 to go to Twisted Spur. All of a sudden I go from a 10 min pace slog to a 7 minute pace tempo. The internal radiator starts smoking almost immediately. Shirt comes off, as does my spibelt since it was bouncing with the speed downhill. It’s getting late, so I crank it up to 5k pace as I cross Polo Road, absolutely dying. I’m thinking I’m OK until Ryan texts me he’s early. I get the text just as I come flying around the corner, pure sweaty albino, sucking wind like there’s no tomorrow, double fisting a soaked shirt and an iphone. I get a WTF? look from the car, do a speed shower and rehydrate at the brewery. Let’s just say it was a good thing it was his turn to drive.


2014 Strictly Running Track Series – Worst form ever


3) The Track, or whatever – Nothing sucks worse than speedwork in the heat, but Justin Bishop likes to beat his minions into submission when June rolls around. Going to Team Utopia practice is rough, but at least there’s company to your misery at Owens field. Unfortunately my little minions all have swim meets on Mondays, so this puts a wrench in my TUS attendance. For the non-suburban parent, swim meets are 3 hours plus of roasting in the sun while they have like 60 races. They are just a notch above other kids birthday parties and Monkey Joe’s on the parental pain scale.  So, I’m often left to fend for myself with the 800 meter repeats in June. Last week: 8 x 800 in the rain, by myself, up and down the hills of Wildewood. This was after swim meet got rained out last second, 2 coronas down and an 8 pm guilt trip. I thought this had to be piece de resistance of summer training torture, though I was able to finish. But no, today had to trump that. Meadowlake track near my work, 5.5 x 800 at 6 min pace in 95 degree heat dodging walkers and kids. I was supposed to do nine. Halfway through the sixth I was feeling kind of passy outty so I figured it would not be cool to be carted off on an ambulance. Especially in front of the psychiatric hospital where i work. I’m supposed to be the sane one.

Which goes to reinforce the number one rule of summer training: just don’t die. To that end, never do the 1 x 20 feet at 9.8 m/sec/sec in Hawaii. I can’t recommend it. Stay safe out there…


July 2013 Hawaii homecoming – Hell indeed




See Spot Run 5k/Tame the Beast 12k – Earlewood Park -5/21/16


The See Spot Run 5k is a race put on by the Humane Society, and true to its name, is the most dog friendly of the road races in the midlands. They even give out a prize for first dog and have swimming pools along the way for four-legged water stops. Its only fitting that Tuff Clyburn, fur child of Brian “El Capitan” Clyburn /captain of my Palmetto 200 team, has dominated the canine division of this race in recent years, taking the last two wins. I can only guess he gives Tuff a color coded spreadsheet and pace goals as well.

The race was first held in 2010 in the first week of June, and used to be held at Riverfront park. Apparently people complained of the oppressive heat and running past the less-than-aromatic chicken plant on the old course, so they moved it to Earlewood Park a couple of years later. The inaugural race was the site of one of the earliest overall Blue Shoes trophy hunts, a third place almost 2 minutes behind Jason Dimery and Gregory Jones, Sr.  I think I outweighed the other winners combined, but I was grinning like an idiot after an epic takedown of Ken Sekley on the bridge.


The new 5k course in Earlewood is pure evil. They lure you into complacency with a blazing fast downhill 1st mile,  only to crush you with a killer climb up to Logan school, then turn around, plunge back down that climb and then run that blazing fast first mile in reverse. Trust me, its not so nice the other way. Plus, they used to have 17 minute 5ker Randy Finn dress up in full dog mascot costume and smoke ¾ of carrying 20 pounds of fur and oversize head.  But hey, isn’t that what I already do every race?


Someone in 2015 thought, hey, this 5k thing is WAY TOO EASY. Let’s add in 4+ miles, 30 turns and cram in as many hills as we can. Awesome!  The See Spot 12k was thus born. It did have some hiccups in its first year though, with a misdirect and Randy Hrechko setting a world record for F-Bombs in the Columbia area.

In order to fix this and improve the races in general , RD extraordinaire Delisa Edwards held a focus group a couple of months ago at Jake’s in Five Points. With free beer and wings, they really had to twist my arm to come. She was really dedicated to making sure the longer race went off without a hitch in 2016, and she said there would be plenty of volunteers and course markings.  I had heard the course was brutal, so I encouraged her to own up to the pain and perhaps not use the “flat and fast” tagline, so she came up with TAME THE BEAST.

We had a Columbia Running Club sponsored a few weeks later, and damn, she was not kidding. I ran the 12k course and got into a training run pseudo race with the Code and Marian Nanney and I wanted to die. Unrelenting mountain range.  No way was I doing this. No freaking way.

But a few weeks passed, and the traumatic memories faded.  I kept putting off choosing which race I would do until somehow I devised a theory that the 12k would be the better trophy hunt. Besides, hills are my strength, and hey, I was the owner of the FASTEST 12K IN THE STATE FOR 2016. Sorry, I just wanted to say that again. We won’t mention it was the only one, and a trophy hunt of epic proportion.

Speaking of trophy hunts, my 12k theory lasted about 5 minutes from the time I showed up.  Here comes Randy, Angel Manuel and Toby Selix, and I’m already sitting 3rd Masters and AG at best. And that’s if I can take down Hrechko, who torched a 19:40 at last week’s gov cup.  Later Phil Midden and the Yerg showed up, knocking me further down the overall ladder and contributing to the overwhelming display of mid-70’s-born running talent. This was going to suck AND I was going to get crap for Tour de Columbia points. Brilliant theory, Sasquatch.


I could try to describe the 12k course but this thing literally has 40+ turns. It’s basically the fast 1st mile of the 5k course, an insane roller coaster downhill then an unrelenting iron maiden of pain thereafter. The piece d’ resistance is the climb around 6 miles, where you make up all the elevation loss from the roller coaster. Good times.

The 12k starts about 15 minutes before the 5k and, as my orginal theory had predicted, had far fewer people than the well-attended 5k. Only about 60 runners total, which would be great if it wasn’t for all the middle aged beast men.  Rob Yerger, Micah Simonsen, Lisa Smarr, Matt McGrievy, Jennifer Kryzanowski, Colleen “don’t call me Mrs. Beast” Vowles,  Anita Recchio, Kelly Ghent, Tommy Outlaw, Brigitte Smith and Kerry Stubbs were some of the familiar faces.

The gun sounds and I take off like a tempo. It’s mid 60’s but crazy humid and going out too fast on this course would be the kiss of death. First mile is nice and flat and I form a mini pack with Randy and Micah. As we approach the mile marker on Marlboro St, the road appears to end…until you realize it’s the roller coaster.  Ninety feet of elevation drop in a quarter mile. Yeah, there’s no way to run that gracefully. I flop down to the bottom wrecking my quads in the process. Suckage has commenced, and this is just the downhill. The ensuing little bit of straight on Lucius Rd is the lowest point of the course, and the next mile is spent cruising through the canal place neighborhood, then back  through Earlewood  to meet up with the 5k course on Park st. So far so good. I’ve hit the first two miles in 7 minute pace, and I’ve managed to break free from my pack. Park st drops you again and then makes you climb right back up.  Things start going south on this mountain climb, since I really hadn’t recovered from the range I just crossed. I keep hoping for something, ANYTHING, flat. Wayne St is still a slight incline but at least its straight, so it feels good to breathe a little again. Unfortunately, someone is tracking my ass down  as I go under the I-26 /Elmwood overpass into the area near the Governor’s Mansion. Sure enough Angel passes me like he’s out for a Sunday jog, leaving me and my wounded ego in the dust.  Another climb and a loop by Tricky Nikki’s house and we’re headed for home, sort of. Miles 3 and 4 (7:13, 7:23) have faded badly, so I need to make up some time to make this respectable. Jen K and a guy pacing her (Logan Hawke) are up ahead so I focus on tracking these guys down.  Mile 5 feeds back into the 5k course,  and includes the fun climb up to Logan School. By this time my legs are more warmed up to the repeated abuse so it seems a little easier. Its also nice to see some of the 5kers like the rest  of the McGrievys (Brie, Quentin and Sabine) and Cheryl Outlaw (with Gizmo of course).  Mile 5 back to 7:01 and I start preparing for what I know is going to really, really suck – the climb back up the roller coaster. But first a plunge down into a valley on Park Street just to beat your legs a little more.  Park Street features the brutal climb in the 5k that tests your will to live in that race.  Jen K catches a brief spell of walksies and I manage to pull ahead and make up some ground on Angel. I’m so glad to reach the top at the mile 6 marker, but then I forget – the course then throws away all that climb with one huge downhill and starts you all over again. The ensuing mountain is unspeakable. All the elevation climb of Park Street compressed into half the distance, with a Quarry Crusher- esque little 10 percent lung buster at the end. I’m doubled over like Quasimodo on Xanax, trying to give the appearance of running. I think power walking it might have been faster, except my melon headed ego wont let me. Any grandiose thoughts about catching Angel quickly are replaced with making to the finish without getting Hrechkoed or Kryzanowskied.  After the lung buster, there are two more little inclines before finally, mercifully, flattening out for a bit. It takes me a full half mile to get my breath back, and I start to recover some, but by this time its too close to the finish to give Angel a run for his money. The finish throws you down one more hill, and I cross in 53:07, my second slowest 12k ever.

But hey, I know I’m at least one of the first few finishers, right? Yes… and no. While taking 6th overall, I realize all that effort puts me as 4th in the 40-44 behind Toby, Phil Midden and Angel. If the Yerg was 7 months older I would have been 5th.  Unreal.  Since Toby and Phil were so gracious to take overall places, I was able to get 2nd masters and a nice wine glass at least.  Looking at the results, 6 of the 7 40-44 guys placed in the top 11. But with three deep overall and masters, all 7 of us took home some bling. Sweet.

In the 5k, it was triumph yet again for Tuff Clyburn, who pulled Dan Carter to an overall win. Dan was able to put on the jets at the last second to claim first mammal, however. 17:55 is an insane time for that course, especially  having to stop 4 times for Tuff’s  dips on the pools.  River Bluff Hs runner William Moran took second with William Stutts 3rd.  Lorien Clark was the women’s winner at age 13, followed by Sara Hutchins and Elise Germany.

In masters, Jeff Godby managed first with Johnathan Kirkwood 2nd. Gretchen Lambert and Jennifer Othersen took the top two women’s masters.

In the 5k age groups,  Jessica Weaver took the win in the 15-19. Drew Williams won the 35-39, with Ryan Sacko 3rd. Teresa Shelton was 3rd in the 35-39 with two dogs in tow. Henry Othersen, Todd Derrick and Art Lambert swept the 40-44. Chip Lupo was 2nd in the 45-49, while Missy Caughman took 1st among the women.  Tom Tanner won the 50-54 men with Joe Robinson 3rd.  Susan Weaver was 3rd in the 50-54 women.  Lois Leaburn placed 2nd in the 55-59 women, with Tour director John Gasque winning on the mens side to continue his TDC domination this year. Cheryl Outlaw won the 60-64 with Pete Poore 2nd among the men.  Rich Weaver won the 65-69 in a very good day for the Weaver family.  Racing studs Henry Holt, Peter Mugglestone and Rocky Soderberg swept the 70+.

In the 12k, Toby Selix crushed a 6:22 pace to take the win with Phil Midden 2nd in sub 50. McCray Weeks was 3rd. Jen K , Colleen Vowles and Anita Recchio took the podium for the women.  Lisa Smarr took 3rd female masters while Angel,  Sasquatch and Hrechko (best law firm name ever) swept the old men category.

In the age groups, Logan Hawke tok 1st in the 20-24. Rob and Micah were 1-2 in the 35-39. Matt McGrievy was 2nd in the 40-44. Ravi Chockalingam and  John Richards were the top two 45-49 men. Phil Togneri won the 50-54. Tommy Outlaw placed 3rd in the 55-59. Harry Strick won the 60-64 men  while Brigitte Smith was champion of the 65-69 women.




Rose Festival 12k and 5k – Orangeburg, SC – 4/30/16




The Rose Festival 5k and 12k have been around for about 10 years, but initially escaped my attention since Orangeburg is about an hour from my house.  At some point I must have realized, though, that this was an event practically made for me. I spend so much time looking for double dip opportunities, but Rose Fest actually builds one into their race, and makes the double an event all to itself (called the “Double Down 17k” as well. It is a Tour de Columbia points bonanza.

My first taste of the Rose Fest in 2013 virtually assured I’d be coming back again. I consider it probably the best running performance of the hundreds of races I’ve done. I PR’d in the 12k by over a minute and a half, running a 48:12 in an epic battle with Billy Tisdale. The 5k, only about 40 minutes later, was absolutely brutal, but featured a 5:59 closing mile to catch Billy again, finishing in 19:49 and securing a double down championship.  I was hooked.


Rose Fest 12k, 2013

Of course, whenever someone like myself wins races, it basically screams TROPHY HUNT. I don’t win races by talent, I win by luck and lack of competition.  The Rose Fest featured wins by local elites Justin Bishop, Chris Bailey and Michael Banks in subsequent years – people who could go have brunch after their race and still have time to get back to see me finish.

I was injured in 2014, but I came back in 2015 to race the double again. Charleston’s Chris Bailey trounced everybody in both the 12k and 5k, and I had a couple of so-so races (50:02, 20:08 I think). But, since they added a masters division, I took home the masters double down crown much to my surprise.

This year, I was decidedly less optimistic. Boston, while a euphoric experience, left me just wrecked. At least I knew why I was feeling so bad at the race since I was sick as a dog the rest of the week. I had managed to get a few runs in the next weekend, including an ill-advised preview run of the Gov Cup Half on Sunday.  Even though the legs were slowly coming back, I was dead tired and still not 100 percent recovered from the brutal cold I had been fighting.

But, it was Rose Fest, so I figured I’d at least go down to Orangeburg to take pictures. I think I had a beer fueled moment of poor judgment (not the first, mind you) on Thursday night and signed up for the 12k on a whim. I had to catch my 10 year old’s chorus performance at the Sparkleberry Fair at 10:15 so I really couldn’t stay for the double down. I know… the thug life chose me.

Waking up at 5:00 am on Saturday,  it took every ounce of willpower, coupled with the 40 bucks I had already burned, to get me out of bed. OK I was definitely doing this race easy. I figured I could cruise at my Kiawah Marathon 7:15 pace and see if I could stumble into my age group or something.

I got down to Orangeburg with about 40 minutes to spare for the 7:30 start. Not a big crowd – the 12k is usually fairly small but loaded with elites, the 5k much larger. I ran into Cheryl and Thomas Outlaw, John Gasque (doing the double down), Brigitte and Garrett Smith, fellow TUS teammates Makenzie Wilson and birthday girl Greta Dobe. Rocky was already there despite only running the 5k at 9:00. Justin had mentioned he would be there but was MIA. I did less than a mile warmup, and the legs felt it necessary to remind me on every step that it was indeed only 12 days ago that I ran a marathon.  Total cinder blocks.

As we walk up to the start line, I’m taking pictures, talking to Erin and the cops, and generally distracted. As I put my phone away, I’m suddenly struck…WHERE ARE THE ELITES?? There are a few kids, a random fit looking guy about my age and an older dude with a Charleston Running Club singlet up front. No one I really recognize on the front line. OK, so surely one of these guys must be a sub 6 pace kind of dude. Still, a sense of opportunity, and panic, runs through me.


The course – mostly flat and residential.


With the gun, I make sure I go out easy since this was the plan. About a quarter mile in I see a couple of teenagers in matching shirts running a couple of steps ahead and a guy riding my tail, but there’s no one but me and the police car. I take a quick look over my shoulder and start cussing. I’ve got 20 meters on the field already. Sonofabitch, I’ve stumbled into an unbelievable trophy hunt. I was going to have to at least try.

But, yeah, I really, really didn’t want to. A half mile in and the teenagers are gone. Just me and a random shirtless guy . I turn to him and jokingly say “I guess we are the elites today”, but he doesn’t even look at me. Dude is in a zone, probably dead set on kicking this melon headed Clydesdale’s ass. Normally I would use this as motivation to drop him, but I have no idea what my legs can take right now and  I have no idea what this guy is capable of. I focus on about 7 minute pace as I had no intention on running any faster than I had to  to take home the holy grail. Mile one came back in 7:04 and unfortunately Shirtless is riding my back like an oversized monkey. I don’t blame him since I produce a drafting wake like Andre the Giant. I turn a corner and there’s a long straightaway in mile 2 with a slight climb. OK – lets keep the pace steady but surge up the hill a bit to try and create some breathing room. Mile 2 was slightly faster in 6:54. I don’t feel great, having not done anything remotely fast in the past 2 weeks. I hit kind of a low point near mile 3 where I’m not sure if the police car missed a turn or not. I hear some noise behind me and Shirtless is still in striking distance, maybe 10 meters back. Damn it. The police car then turns and I recognize the course again, so figure I’m OK.

By now, I’m thinking that I can probably just maintain pace and Shirtless will fade, but there was at least one other guy not too far back. They’ll take my trophy from me from my dead, cold hands, so I bump up the pace just a little to be safe. I hit the turnaround right at mile 4, so a big psychological hurdle is overcome. Pace 6:45-6:50 for the middle miles. The heat and marathon legs are starting to get to me but the course quickly loops back on itself, and at least now I have some company going the other way. I focus on the other runners, trying not to get too crazy and kick it in too early. Mile 5 is 6:45. I’m definitely feeling pretty bad by now – legs are nice and loose but I’d really rather still be in bed. I’m almost to mile 6 (slight fade to 6:55) by the time I hit the other police car sweeping the back end of the race. Just stay on course and keep up this pace. All of a sudden I see “the hill”. Just a bump really, but I knew it was a half mile almost all downhill to the finish from the top. The hill where I pushed in all the chips against Billy in 2013 and headless chickened it to the finish. Not quite the same this time, but seeing the finish from the top of the hill is a big adrenaline jolt. I’m pretty much toast but I’m scared to death of some random joker blue shoeing me in the final stretch. I’m too afraid to look back. Burning down the hill I see Eric and Sarah Allers, Rob Yerger and Mike Compton. Sure glad they chose the undercard this year. Compton says there’s no one behind me so I do back it off a touch so I an enjoy the win. Crossed the line in 51:15, 6:52 pace. First overall! My fourth holy grail. I even had a post race interview with the Orangeburg Times-Democrat http://thetandd.com/sports/recreation/festival-of-roses-road-race-has-record-setting-turnout/article_898dc68a-613b-5b97-9f33-7b844422031d.html.   http://thetandd.com/uploaded_photos/festival-of-roses-k-road-race/image_1144fd58-b88e-5c0b-a08f-222e28a8c733.html  The melon head continues to grow.

This was my slowest Rose Fest 12k my over a minute, and second slowest ever, but overall victories are so sweet regardless of the time. I will take it.

In the 12k, John Gasque took 9th place and 1st in the 55-59. Tommy Outlaw took 2nd. Joe Robinson won the 50-54.Cheryl Outlaw won the 60-64 while Greta Dobe took 2nd in the 50-54. Hou Yin Chang placed 3rd in the 40-44. Brigitte Smith won the 65-69. In a critical no show, I see Lee Moore was signed up but didn’t make it to the start line. Thanks, Lee!

In the 5k, Eric Allers trounced the field by almost a minute, with Sarah taking the women’s win. An excellent day for Team Allers, newly representing the Fleet Feet racing team. Parker Roof was 3rd. The Yerg was 4th overall and 1st in the 35-39. Daniel Patrick took 5th and 1st in the 25-29. Joe Roof won the 50-54 while Compton took the 60-64. Arnold Floyd won the 70+. Makenzie Wilson was 4th female and won the 25-29. John Gasque was 2nd in the 55-59 for race #2. Alex Ponomarev won the 65-69. Henry Holt took 2nd in the 70+, running 28 flat at age 80. Not too shabby. Peter Mugglestone was 3rd in a super competitive 70+ age group. Tommy Outlaw was 3rd in the 55-59 in race #2, while Cheryl won her age group again, picking up 20 TDC points in one morning

I was not the only one to benefit this trophy hunt – Tour de Columbia director John Gasque was able to take home the double down championship! Marie McLean-Choi won the women’s title, with John McKinley and Jennifer Ballew claiming the masters titles.