The “Walk or Run a Crooked 5k” is a yearly event in Chapin’s Crooked Creek park held to benefit Meals on Wheels and kickoff the Labor Day festival there. I dont know how long this race has been going on, but this year marks the fourth time I’ve done it. I have kind of a love/hate relationship with this race. I think the course is awesome, with about half of it on grass/dirt surrounding the ball fields and the other half in winding paved trails. On the other hand, the name alone screams there arent any regular road racers directing it, and they still use mail in registration and non-chip timing like its 1987. But maybe they’re going for retro-cool, I don’t know. Either way, I don’t think they ever have any local competition from other races, so I always run it. In a truly amazing occurrence, I managed to dig out a stamp, envelope and check and actually register ahead of time this year.
I got there my customary hour in advance and did a couple miles warm up with Geary, Plex and Crazy Legs. The Code, who also usually does this race, was MIA again. He’d better show up for Blue Ridge on Thursday. We did a few loops around the last part of the course, which helped me mark where I might be able to start throwing down a kick if needed. As usual, there wasnt a big competitive group here. Decent size crowd, but only a few regulars. Jennifer Reeves, Ted, Alex P, the Holts, Cheryl Outlaw, Pete Poore, Teo and Rocky were there. Jack Carmody, who runs like 2 races a year, was there to at least keep Plex from jogging to a win. Claudia Nunez-Lopez was the only competitive female I saw. So basically, I could have predicted the outcome of the race before it began, though you never know when some rogue kid might come out and throw down a good time.
The course starts with a half mile lap around the soccer fields, then enters a very convoluted stretch of paved trail. At about a mile and a half, you do a loop of a baseball field then come back into the curvy trail portion, another loop in a parking lot, then back to the trails with a finish in the same soccer field where you started. Got that? Last year they had about 75 percent of the field take a wrong turn at the baseball loop and cut off a quarter mile of distance, so I hoped they had fixed that.
They had an actual starting gun , which was cool, and may have jolted some adrenaline to put me in the lead for about 10 meters before Plex, Jack Claudia and some other guy jumped ahead. It had rained earlier in the week, and running on this grass gave me some PTSD from the Springdale race. Luckily it wasnt as long as there, but there were definitely some muddy areas. For those behind me, I apologize they had to witness my very ungraceful leap over a 6 foot patch of muck. Can’t get those new blues dirty now, can we? By the time the soccer loop was done, plex and jack had already disappeared and all I could see was Claudia and other guy. Other guy had headphones on, which in my running snob mind, meant there was little chance he was going to hold this pace. I did manage to catch him just before the mile mark. I decided not to look at my splits, because I know I’d feel let down. This course has way too many turns and grassy areas to race a good time – my course record is 20:15 from 2011. After passing the guy, I was suddenly all alone, though at times I could see Claudia up way ahead. I tried to at least keep her in range because once I run completely alone I get a major case of the slowsies. Plus, I had heard the industrial machine breathing of Geary just behind me when we first entered the trail portion. Got to the baseball loop and fortunately they had made extra sure no one took the wrong turn again, placing a barricade of cones. The course then turned back on itself, and Rocky was there to give me an update on my position. After another brief trail section came the parking lot loop. No sooner than I took the first turn when I saw Geary and Teo bearing down on me, uncomfortably close. Crazy Legs was soon to follow. I tried to make the most of the straightaways in the parking lot, ramping up the pace to match my road 5k speed. I was able to make up some ground on Claudia but she was still well ahead. After the parking lot loop I was hurting pretty bad. We’ve been blessed with some great weather over the past few weeks, but this morning was about 80 and humid, so I was definitely feeling the pain. By the time I reached the soccer field again, I was just toast. The sun was bright and the dewy grass felt like sludge. I knew I wasnt catching Claudia and a quick look on the turn showed there was no one behind me either. The tank was officially on E when I made the last turn, and I watched helplessly as the 19’s faded away. I threw in one mini-burst at the very end just to break 20:10, with my official time at 20:09. 4th overall, 1st in AG. I hate going over 20 minutes, but this was a new course record for me, so I guess I should be satisfied with that.
As I warmed down, I realized that I actually got 3rd overall male, which I hoped might score me an overall prize. Sure, there is some shame to accepting an overall male award when you’ve been beaten by one of the females, but there is little dignity to my ridiculous trophy hunting anyway. What defies logic though, is that the race gave overall awards to the top 3 finishers only, without separating out the males and females. WTF? I didn’t care so much for me (see above shame) but this is totally stiffing the 2nd and 3rd place women. Claudia also missed out on a first place overall award, which i believe was 50 bucks. Very lame.
J-Reeves placed in her age group, throwing down an awesome blue shoes style kick to break 31 minutes – see pics below. Ted, Schmitz, Geary, Cheryl, Pete, Alex P, and the Holts all got some age group glory as well.