This is my third year doing this race, a small 5k out at Crooked Creek park in Chapin, SC. Its definitely one of the most interesting courses on tour, leading you through soccer fields, paved trail, the perimeter of a baseball field, and 2 parking lot loops. Like a cross country course but about 2/3 of it is paved. Attendance is usually on the small side and is probably mostly local. One thing hurting this race is competition from other labor day holiday activities and another race on Monday, the Blythewood Labor Day 10k/5k. Also, it is the only race I run which still uses paper and snail mail entry, and has a non-electronic finish line (except for a digital clock). I never remember to sign up and always end up paying the late fee. At least they have plenty of shirts for late registrants. Competition is always pretty sparse here too. I ran a 22 plus 5k in 2009 here and ended up taking 4th place overall. More of the same this year. Code Brown, Plexico, Rocky Soderberg and a few other older Tour de Columbia age groupers were the only ones I recognized. Temps were back to being warm this week, mid 70′s and humid. Sciatic pain has been slowly improving, didnt feel any twinges after a good warmup.
Course was marked throughout with orange paint, there were a confusing spots when I did the warmup with the Code. With the gun start, I tried to start out fast, which felt pretty good, but I was definitely was not able to reach my usual first mile speed on the wet grassy field. Shades of Springdale at Sunset. After a lap around the soccer field, we crossed a small parking lot and into the paved trail section. There were a fair amount of turns in this area, plus a few killer short inclines that slowed you down big time. I traded places with a guy in a white singlet for the first mile – I’d pass him on inclines but he’d overtake me on the downside. Finally gapped him a bit and never saw him again. First mile 6:21, which is pretty fast for this course for me. The Code was feeling it and had already left me in the dust. The top female was ahead of me but within sight, helping me follow the winding course. I think she was maybe 5 feet tall and probably 90 pounds. After 1.5 miles, there was a break out into the baseball field area with some nasty gravel and puddles, almost twisted my ankle on one of the turns but recovered. There was a confusing part as you circled the ball field, where the course suddenly turned back into the grass instead of going straight. I almost called out to the girl in front of me that she was going the wrong way, then I realized I was the one in the wrong. Quickly darted back on course and went back into the paved trail area which overlapped part of the course we just ran. Passed Rocky going the other way, who gave me a heads up I was running 5th overall. As we went back out into a quarter mile parking lot loop, all of a sudden about 20 people were right in front of me. Apparently from mid-pack on, everybody went straight were I almost went, and they had cut off probably a third or half a mile of course. I was starting to die a bit, so I panicked a little , knowing I had to pass all these people to retake my position. Second mile was considerably slower , 6:41. Tried to push it in the last mile, but was not feeling it. I was able to finally pass the last of the misdirected group with about .75 to go, and made up some ground on top female. We came back out into the field with half mile to go, and had the painful feeling of having to pass the finish line before doing one more lap of the field. The girl in front of me was fading a little but I wasnt able to gather the motivation to pass her. I thought I could catch her in the last quarter mile but she threw down a nice kick. Saw the 19′s fade away on the clock and finished in 20:16, a second slower than last year. Two seconds from 4th. Must of been the extra 100 pounds I was carrying around. Plexico blew away the field with a high 17′s time, a guy named Jack finished second, never seen him race before. He was in the 18′s. Code finished in 19:24, a really strong time for this course. Awards were surprisingly fast given the hand timing. Irmo-Chapin pint glasses. My second favorite pint glass award behind the ironic Dry Run beer glasses. About 75 percent of the field ran about 2.7 miles with the misdirect. 3.11 by my Garmin. I’m not totally sure, because there was some confusion, but I think they only gave overall awards to the top 3 males, and not the females. If thats true, thats really uncool. I’m positive they only gave out cash awards to the guys. Please let me know if I’m wrong.
Results to this race usually take several days to get posted. Next up is the Blythewood Labor Day 10k/5k on Monday – still debating on which distance. Probably the 5k with the Blue Ridge Relay coming up next weekend.