The Silver Fox Trot is a trail 5k held at Saluda Shoals Park in Irmo, with proceeds going to support the cross country team at Dutch Fork High School. “Lightning” Plexico says this race used to be held elsewhere in Irmo way back in the olden days of his youth, but this is the 4th year of the event at Saluda Shoals.
This is definitely a tough course, and from my experience (I ran the 2009 and 2010 races) you can pretty much tack on 2 extra minutes to your road 5k to get an estimate for this race. Lots of twists and turns, ditches, mud…and one brief but brutal mountain of pain. We’ve had a good bit of rain over the last couple of days, so this was going to make the course even more difficult.
Angel and Eric have their Eagle 5k down in North later in the day, so I was double dipping this year, which I figured would also help me prepare for the Blue Ridge Relay coming up in September. But make no mistake, there is no way I could do either race easy or as a tempo. I pin that bib to my shirt, and its on like Donkey Kong.
I got to the race about 45 minutes ahead of time. There were already a ton of people there, most of whom were high school kids. I noticed when I signed up that there were 73 adults and 70 seventeen and under registrants, so I figured there might be a teenage mob scene at the start (there was). Code was already there – he said the shirt was pretty nice, tech instead of cotton. Unfortunately this race never has extra shirts, so if you sign up late you’re pretty much SOL. Plus, they have shirt nazi that guards these shirts with her life. I asked to get one after the race and I got a look of thousand-sun burning hate.
Did a brief warmup with the Code, Geary, Ted and Lightning. Felt like death due to ramping up the miles recently for marathon training and not doing any speedwork in the last couple of weeks. Not a whole lot of familiar faces, but J-Reeves, Sarah “Battle Scarred” Blackwell, Crazy Legs, Bri and Dan Hartley, Amie Meyer, Pete Poore, Henry Holt and of course Rocky were all there.
At the start, there was a good portion of Dutch Fork’s student body on hand and it felt like the humidity ratcheted up a notch just to make it particularly unpleasant. Actually, the temp wasnt that bad with the clouds overhead. The start was complete madness. Somehow I got shunted off to the side so I was jumping over long grass and puddles while trying not to flatten the 100 lb high school girls to the left and right of me. And I got boxed in, just when I saw Code find an opening and blast ahead. Damn that Code. The same 100 pounders who were doing sub 6 pace out of the blocks suddenly slowed to almost 8 minutes. I tried to pass one of them, but damned if these girls werent throwing around some skinny elbows. Finally I pulled a Marcus Lattimore and rumbled like Sasquatch through the woods and into the clear. All this wasted energy might of been useful on the mud mountain that suddenly loomed into view. And since the mountain was freshly watered from last night, a total slogfest ensued. The 12 year old in front of me slowed to about a walk, and it took significant restraint not to push off of his shoulder to power up this beast. The good thing about the mountain is that it thinned out the field considerably. At the top I was finally able to choose where I ran on the grass trail instead of being herded like cattle. And it was plenty wet – had to slow almost to a walk at times to navigate some of these areas. Didnt look at the Garmin but apparently I hit mile 1 in 7:12, about a minute slower than my road 5k splits. This is probably why I was able to pick it up some in the second mile, and slowly start picking off people. Apparently Dutch Fork teaches MMA style elbowing because these kids did not take kindly to being passed. To their credit, I wouldnt want to be taken down by a goofy looking 37 year old with a freakishly large head either. More Pitfall-esque areas ensued. One turn was complete slop, and I was tiptoeing like Sasquatch doing ballet, hoping there wasnt anyone taking pictures of this complete and utter lack of grace. Hit mile 2 in 6:59. Blazing. Next up on the roadkill list was a suspiciously 35-39 year old guy with a red shirt. He was proving difficult to catch – kept speeding up when he heard the lumbering footsteps behind him I guess. With about a half mile to go I finally surged and passed him. By this time though, I was sucking some serious wind. The last part of the course is particularly winding, and you can hear the finish, but have no idea where it is. I kept on having finish mirages and uttering soft f-bombs (had to be discrete around the kids, right?) when each turn unfolded another finish-less stretch of trail. Caught up with a kid that looked like he should be doing 17 minute 5ks – I think he was just phoning it in, but my insatiable appetite for roadkill knows no bounds. Blue shoed past him at top speed and finally hit the turn that actually contained a finish line. Sadly the next group I was approaching contained the Code, but I ran out of room and he finished about 10 seconds ahead. My finish was about 21:40, 2nd in age group. A tad slower than 2 years ago, but then there was not nearly as much mud or razor elbowed sophomores. I’m OK with the time given the conditions.
Code took my precious age group crown, while Schmitz and Ted placed in the 40-44. Rocky, Henry, Amie, Valerie Selby, Bri Hartley, Sarah, Plex and Pete Poore all placed in their age group. Pretty good CRC representation there. Sadly, some young punk took down the mighty Lightning. Ka-chow. Results will hopefully be posted soon. Hope shirt nazi isn’t in charge of this.