The Quarry Crusher is now in its 2nd year and, through word of mouth, has grown significantly from the inaugural event last year. Its the most unique race in Columbia and probably the state. Imagine running a quarter mile of a typical road 5k….before descending into a mile long pit into the center of the earth. Pretty cool.
This is my second time around for this event, and it should have never happened if you go by what I swore 1000 times during last years race. But alas, the quarry is closed to the public the other 364 days of the year, and somehow my giant melon of a head started to think… it wasnt that bad, was it?
And so I somehow I signed up for another torture session. In my sick, twisted mind I always want to do my worst races over again as if to somehow prove I don’t really suck that bad. In reality, the suckage was a lot less than I made it out to be. I finished 11th in last years race even with all the f-bombs, power walking and general misery. But there wasnt a huge amount of the publicity in the first year, so I think I might have been trophy hunting a bit. So far as I know, they don’t give trophies for 11th place.
But wait…they do if you complain enough. For calling her out as a fraud (see her promotional video from last year for reference) and generally slandering her name in public, Merritt McHaffie, the director of the 5 points association and emcee for last years race, gave me one of their left over promotional rocks. So far the first trophy I’ve received for being an ass. I’m sure not the last.
She also had talked about making another video with racing me her in the quarry, to settle the score. This never came about, probably because she knows my Brandi Chastain impression is way hotter.
Promo video or not, this race seemed to have a lot more buzz this year, and I heard there were over 300 registered in the week before the event. Otis Taylor from the State also ran a big article in the weekend section of the state where he professed to training specifically for this race. To the collective groans of my friends, the article also quoted this blog in a few paragraphs, further adding to my reputation as an unabashed attention whore.
Fearing the worst in this race, I apparently decided the best way to prepare for this grueling undertaking was of course to do a 5k an hour before hand. Well, Greta Dobe it last year and didnt walk at all, so I could do it too, right? I did. A fruitless trophy hunt at the Cones for a Cure 5k in Forest Acres. The Ashtons , David He and even Hayes Selbee showed up and “stole” my precious win. But that’s for another post.
To my credit, I wasnt the only insane one looking to double up on the day. James Hicks, John Gasque, Valerie Selby and Hou-Yin Chang also took part in the most idiotic double dip in history.
Part of the reason for doubling up was that I didn’t like my chances in the Crusher. I knew the Yerger would be there, and since he has about 50 less pounds to carry out of the quarry, advantage: Rob. Plus, with the size of the race growing so much, the trophy chance became significantly slimmer.
Sure enough, Dimery showed up, as well as Rick Stroud and some of his Harbison trail crew. There were also a ton of pretty fast looking dudes up at the front this year, in stark contrast to 2012. Not a whole lot of familiar faces at this race for me. I think a lot of people showed up for the novelty of the event and the sheer challenge. A lot of crossfitters, some costumes. Sarah Blackwell, Adam Beam, and Greta were back again. Ken Cobb was there to make sure I didnt have a prayer of placing in my age group. Jenn Covington was there to cash in her free CRC race.
I lined up a few rows back and decided to take this start a hundred times easier than the sprint I did last year. Like half marathon pace. Just scared to death of the trauma of 2012. As noted above, the first quarter mile is on the roads near Olympia Mills apartments, before you enter the quarry. Once you go through the gates, there’s another quarter mile of some fairly steep, but not too bad, incline. For the uninitiated, this gives you a false sense of security. Then there’s a hard left, and its like oh dear God… Suddenly you’re in virtual freefall down a corkscrew road into a seemingly bottomless pit. You know its bad when there’s a 10 mph speed limit sign and another one for trucks to check their brakes before the descent. It doesnt help that a pack of vultures can be seen circling the ridge above. They came to the right place.
And out come the leg sledgehammers again. I’m desperately trying to find a happy space between the pain of blasting down the decline at full speed versus the pain of trying to brake yourself against gravity. If you check my pics, you can see there’s a lot of gravity involved. FYI, there is no happy space. Either way the sledgehammers are hitting somewhere. I’m trying to be all tactical, but when Adam, then James,then Sarah, pass me – my overwhelming grandiosity starts complaining. I latch on to James and Sarah for the rest of the way down, which I see, as forewarned, has gotten longer with the continued digging over the past year. The leader (Kevin Trumpeter) and Dimery are already heading back up with a tenth of a mile for me to go. I guess hanging on to the lead pack is not going to happen this year.
The turnaround is just psychologically devastating. Its like you’ve reached rock bottom. HAHA. Yeah… it sucks. My goal was not to walk this year, and I swear the evil walksie voices start talking right away. But I keep telling myself to keep going. The first half is just brutal. The back of the pack is flying down at double your speed while you’re crumpled over straining to do 11 minute pace. Keep going…. Baby steps. The voices are screaming, especially when half the dudes ahead of you are already in soccer mom mode. But I’m making slow and steady progress, passing people left and right blazing away at first time 5ker speed. Halfway up Merritt’s lounging around in her golf cart, taunting me again, saying something about her foot being in a boot from last week’s Palmetto Half. Excuses, excuses.
I finally catch Adam at about three quarters up and he is saying something about “one more hill”. Dude must be delirious, because I know there’s least three more brutal inclines. But whatever works. On the next hill the lead girl (who had been walking) comes flying by me. Oh hell no. I start picking up the pace, but the walksie voices get louder, and I go back to my “couch to 5k” crawl. Luckily, she starts walking again and I pass her with my power jog. Finally, I’m near the top and the 10 percent grade becomes like 3 percent, and it feels like heaven. By the time I reach the gate I’m almost up to 7 minute pace and set my sights on a guy that looks suspiciously mid thirtiesh. I try to be all stealth, but when you weigh 190 and are breathing like a rabid banshee, the element of surprise is perhaps not optimal. Nevertheless, I blow by him and actually start reaching near 5k race pace, which feels like a sprint after all the light jogging. I round the corner and see the clock still in the 25’s (I ran 28:04 last year). I blast out the last bit and finish in 26:05 or something. 17th place. The official time has me in 25:43, so I’m not sure if we briefly entered some hole in the space-time continuum, but I’ll take it. Race is supposed to be 3.7 miles, though my Garmin has 3.4 this year with a longer course. I’m thinking the Garmin is probably just in WTF? mode when it sees you going 400 feet underground.
I didnt get to stay around long, but I hear they did give out cool rocks as age group awards this year. The only problem is ..one deep age groups? I was 4th in AG so it didnt matter anyway, but every other race does top three. Do I get another rock for complaining again?
Sarah rocked a 3rd overall female, so awesome for her. Dimery won 2nd in a blazing 22:04. Hats off to the Trumpeter, who crushed the field with a 21:11. The Yerg captured my age group and Rick Stroud won the 40-44. Greta won her age group as well, along with Valerie Selby, who rocked out a brutal finishing kick. Must be all that Team Utopia South training.
Quarry Crusher..better be ready for the Blue Shoes next year.