Run Wild is a cool event run by the Richland Northeast cross country team , and features an open 5k followed by varsity boys, varsity girls, JV boys and JV girls high school races. Ive run it the last two years and both efforts were some of my strongest performances of those years. I live only 2 miles from the start and run Sesqui all the time in training, so I know the course extremely well. Starts in a field near the lake, winds through a scout camping area thats pretty flat, then brings you up a long slow incline on the firebreak trail for the first mile. Rolling hills on the firebreak trail in mile 2, then turns into the forest for single track trail for all of mile 3. Finish is flat right next to the lake.
I had a rough week this week, with a nasty cold and lingering sciatic pain. I had taken 2 days off from running before the race to try and get some energy back. It didn’t seem to help as I still felt like crap on the warmup, did 2 miles at warmup effort and ended up with a very slow 10:30 pace. Temps were OK, still high 70’s and humid, but a little breeze courtesy of Irene.
There was a huge crowd on site with all the high school teams, and a good bunch of the regulars: Team Howell and Ward, Meg, Rick, Code Brown, Burgess were all present. Trophy showed up as photographer, which he’s probably regretting right now, as he missed his big chance.
At the gun, everybody sprinted to avoid the bottleneck that happens at the end of the field. The flat areas around the cub scout camp werent too bad, but there was a lot of congestion and a bunch of turns to slow you down. I paced with Greg for awhile, but we both got beat down as soon as the hill started as we turned onto the firebreak. I think the sand on the trail was more packed last year, because I was constantly trying to avoid the beach like effect of all the soft stuff. Mile one wasnt even over and I was already beginning to die. Watched the Code and Meg slowly fade away, and my Palmetto 200 teammate David was also kicking my tail. Mile 1 split was 6:37, which wasnt too bad given the hill and all the sand, but you might as well of stuck a fork in me right there. I tried to speed up on the downhill at the beginning of the 2nd mile, but actually had to slow some just to catch some semblance of breathing back. No one was passing me though, so I guess the course was killing everybody else too. More beach like sand on the rolling hills of the firebreak trail. I think I reached a dark point here where I really thought about dropping out, which I’ve never done. Just felt really fatigued, like I was finishing a half marathon rather than 1.5 miles into a 5k. Suffered some more to a 6:56 split on mile 2, a good 30-40 seconds slower than usual. At this point sub 20 was way out the window, and I was looking at a tough chance even at breaking 21. Kept waiting to get Burgessed or Howelled. Mile 3 seemed to take forever – its all single track trail. I kept misreading the trail and thinking I was coming out to the finish, only to find another turn. Some nice surprise hills here too. Finally got to the lake and found absolutely zero in the tank for a kick. Looked back and thankfully there was no one there. I’m thinking it was bad karma to wear my red trail shoes, plus the “McAwesome” shirt is starting to have a curse too. I’m sure Trophy caught a beautiful race face pic on the last stretch. I watched helplessly as the clock turned over to 21, strolled across the line in 21:09. 24th place. A minute and 25 seconds slower than last year. Probably would have gotten Trophied. By some stroke of luck, I managed to pull a 2nd in age group. Won a Run Wild plastic tumbler, which is a nice change from the medals.