Main Street Crit is a new race that touts itself as one of the few running criterium races in the country. For those of you not named Jeff Brandenburg, a criterium is typically a short course (usually cycling) race with multiple laps. The race is held at night in downtown Columbia, around two city blocks on Main street. In addition to a race for the mere mortals, Main Street Crit held an “elite” race with real pros for some serious cash (1500 for the winner). I just missed the cutoff time for that race by a mere 4 minutes in the 5k. So close.
Despite my hatred for multiple lap courses, I was pretty excited about this race, since it was so unique. 621 Ninjas Stephen Johnson and Amos Disasa were on the organizing committee for this race, and Strictly was timing it, so I figured it would be well done. I have no idea what drove them to create this race, but its always cool to see someone doing something outside of the white cotton shirt loop course 5k. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I’ve done about 20 of them this year though. Course was eight 1k laps, almost completely flat. Basically a large outdoor street track.
This was the second part of my weekend double dip, having started with the Harborside Lights 5k the night before. Apparently in my zeal to catch up with the Brandenburg/Yerger combo, coupled with a paralyzing fear of getting chicked by a thirteen year old girl, I had thoroughly kicked my own ass. Just sore all over. I got there an hour early and was pretty tight from Friday night’s abuse. My spirits were slightly boosted by the fact I stole a parking space from someone trying to the “back in” parking thing in the garage. Awesome.
Not a huge crowd gathered, but a lot of pretty fast people. The Code actually made an appearance, along with Angel and Will Brumbach, so I’d be hard pressed to get any age group glory. Barrett Boozer was also there and I incorrectly thought he was in my group too. Schmitz was on hand, as well as Brandenburg again. JB is definitely whoring himself out for points late in the year. Who would do something like that? Not me. Ted Hewitt, Jeanna Moffett, Hedgecock, Eddie Vergara, 621 red ninja Erin Miller, 2011 Palmetto 200 teammate Garris Haynes, Soon -to-be 2012 PGP champ Jennifer Lybrand, 621 master ninja Shufy Rowe, CRC’s Lindsey Byers , Jennifer Glass, Michael Jensen, TdC director John Gasque, Henry Holt, Rocky , Hou Yin Chang, Cheryl Vaught, and Leighton Lord were some of the familiar names and faces. With 128 total runners, a pretty competitive pack. Eric Ashton and John Charlton were on hand to compete in the masters division of the elite race. I think Bishop could have qualified for the elite, but with former Olympians and 13 minute 5kers in the mix, the open elite division was a whole other level.
I had tried to rally my troops to sign up for the CRC team, though I was only sure that Code and Ted had joined. Schmitz and JB missed the multiple newsletters , emails and facebook pleas. My friends the Ferlautos had their own team along with CRC traitor Lorien Owens in the team competition. Choosing family over the running club. Jeez.
I lined up first row at the start due to my photo and attention whore status and general grandiose tendencies. I led the race for a good 10 feet at the start before Vergara and about 20 people flew past me. Apparently lack of restraint is not only my problem. First lap feels great because its so nice and flat – no Lake Carolina mountains here. Brumbach has already latched on my side and Boozer is right there too. JB is a few meters ahead. As we come up on the first lap, I see the clock just over 3 minutes. I don’t claim to be a math genius, but even my slightly addled race brain is confused. The race is billed as an 8k, and there’s 8 laps. Granted, I went out a little speedy, but 24-25 minutes for an 8k is sub 5 minute pace. So already I know this thing is going to be crazy short.
Somehow with all the math I’ve slowed down and let Brumbach and Boozer put a gap on me. My legs are slightly cashed from all the Lake Carolina fun from last night, but I make an effort to at least keep these guys in striking distance. This becomes harder on the second, and especially the third lap, as we start catching the tail end of the race. Its nice to have some company, but some of these guys are running 2-3 abreast. I’m jumping on sidewalks and doing jukes and cutbacks to avoid some poor soul getting run over by a pale blue bus. With the traffic and darkness, its getting tougher to see where my competition is too. I knew I hit the first mile in 6:14, which is right on target…for a 5k. I decided to abandon the Garmin after this.
Four laps in and I’m basically by myself. More metaphorically by myself, because there are plenty of people around. Will is really the only person I can see though thats actually racing the same lap as me. I definitely faded a bit in pace in the middle..a little bit of post Harborside fatigue with a touch of boredom from so many laps and defeatism from getting dropped by the law firm of Brandenburg, Boozer and Brumbach. Towards the end of lap 5 I started ramping up the pace to get this thing done. Suddenly I see someone familiar ahead. It’s the Code! He’s looking rough, like someone shot him in the foot or something. Sure enough, I catch him and he’s had a flare up of the arch pain he’s been dealing with. Normal people would stop, but not sick, sick bastards like us. Plus, he’s signed up for the Columbia Run Club team – personal pain be damned, take it for the team dude. I pass him on lap 6 and start to really hammer it in lap 7. I barely miss getting lapped by Eddie, who wins the race a step behind me. By the start of the last lap Brumbach is suddenly in sight. Normal people try hard to beat people in their age group…I apparently will endure intolerable suffering for even the slimmest chance of pulling off my favorite maneuver: the Blue Shoe. I start seeing some head bobbing or fatigue ahead of me and its like blood in the water. Mid lap 7 and I throw down hard. Will is still pushing some good pace but I’m catching up. Finally , on the second to last turn, I pass him, sucking wind like its going out of style. Unfortunately theres a mob scene of runners just ahead. Luckily I suddenly develop the field vision of Marcus Lattimore and hit a seam, narrowly missing Ferlauto and some ladies doing 12 minute pace. The last straightaway is pure unadulterated sprint and all of a sudden Barrett comes into view. I blast it out but finish just a step behind him in 27:59. Tenth overall, 2nd in AG.
So yeah, just a touch short. Actually 4.37 miles by the Garmin, which I’m sure isnt completely accurate with all the tall buildings. One thing I’m more sure of is that its not the 4.96 miles of an 8k. Actually another lap would have put it pretty close, though still a little short. My pace was 6:24, so would have been a nice PR. Oh well.
As mentioned, Eddie crushed the win even though he went out in an absolute sprint. Mike Hedgecock took an impressive third, behind Alejandro Arreola – a guy from Charlotte that comes down and does a fair amount of Columbia races. Meg Chieffe won the womens race. Angel finished 6th and Brandenburg 8th – only 10 seconds in front of me. Never saw him though. Barret finished a second ahead of me. Apparently I also blue shoed another guy who finished 3 seconds behind me (Matthew Smith), but I never saw him either. Will finished 12th, and the Code 13th, and then ran an extra lap (on an injured foot) because he lost count. I thought you were an engineer, Code – aren’t you guys good at math? 621 red ninja Erin Miller finished just behind the code to take 2nd overall female.
Brandenburg won 1st masters, with Schmitz winning 3rd, and Jeanna Moffett winning 1st female masters. Age groupers include Barrett winning the 30-34, Lorien Owens winning 3rd in the female 30-34, Angel, myself and Will in the 35-39, Ted Hewitt 3rd in the 40-44. My Palmetto 200 temmate Garris Haynes took 2nd in the 45-49, with Cheryl Vaught finishing 2nd in the female division. Gasque took 3rd in the 50-54, and Shufy Rowe and Jack Kuenzie went 1-2 in the 55-59. WIS TV definitely wins fastest news team with Kuenzie and Dawndy. Rocky and Henry took the 70+ category.
The elite race was a blast to see. Ive never seen 4:30 pace up close and I assure you its impressive. The mens field included a couple of guys from the Olympic trials (Bobby Mack – 10000m, Jeff See – 1500m) and 2 time Olympic steeplechaser (’04, ’08) Anthony Famiglietti. Winning the women’s race was 15:50ish 5ker Stephanie Pezzullo, who collapsed at the end, Blue Shoe style! Eric Ashton and John Charlton represented Columbia well in the masters division, and Robert Razick and Tim Jeffreys in the open.