The Run Red Bank 5k is now in its 3rd year – it was initially was put on by a dental practice in 2012 (still trying to figure that out), then switched over to being a YMCA race last year. It has faced some stiff competition from other races the first two years but has drawn a respectable crowd each time. It was previously held at White Knoll High School and featured a pretty brutal course with a killer hill right at the finish. I did the race last year and about wanted to die – went over 20 minutes and fell into a crumpled heap afterward. But at least the race was great with awesome volunteers and organization by Erin Roof – she and Todd Heinecke always put together a quality event with great prizes for the overall winners, which always tempts me to trophy hunt.
Speaking of trophy hunts, this year looked good for one. The race was being held the week after Jailbreak, which I figured would mean all the actually fast runners would take the weekend off. When you’re Clydesdale-ish and have a bowling ball for a head, you dont want to be competing against skinny guys in singlets. In addition to a change of venue (moved to the Lexington YMCA) the event added a 10k, which I thought would create the “undercard” factor for the 5k. The flip side was that there was no other race in the area competing with this one. Good for the race, bad for trophies.
I signed up for the 5, partially for the aforementioned trophy factor but also because its South Carolina and its almost June. Read: there’s a good chance its going to be brutally hot. I was hopeful about the course, since I was told that the venue change was to provide a nicer, less hilly route.
Umm, yeah, we’ll get to that.
I showed up about an hour early to the race and there was already a decent crowd there. One step outside my car and I was enveloped in a thick coat of South Carolina 100 percent humidity. Fantastic. Temps already in the 70’s too. I started complaining like Trophy (except he whines when it gets over 50). Packet pickup featured a line of volunteers cheering for you just for showing up. Wildly enthusiastic unearned adulation? This is my kind of race. Also – blue fitted cotton shirt – perfect! I could clothe a third world country in seldom used race shirts that fit like a Coleman tent. This is one I might actually wear.
The first thing I notice is that my trophy chances are going down the drain. I see Plex and Billy already there and they are both doing the 5k. Turns out the 5k is on Strictly’s Palmetto Grand Prix. DOH! Critical trophy hunting fail. Brian Talkington has shown up to even make my age grouping difficult, though he informs me he’s been way off his training and hasnt even run in recent weeks. Dina Mauldin, the Outlaws, the Griffins, James Hicks, Ted Hewitt, Angel, Meme, Alex Wilcox, Alex Ponamarev, Pete Poore, Arnold Floyd and Henry Holt are all on hand. Stephanie “Stevie Dee” Dukes showed up with her husband Henry, so we could be assured there’d be about 2000 pictures of the race available (literally). Justin Bishop was there to pace Brittany Robbins.
Justin had tipped me off at the SR Pizza Run that this course was definitely not “flat and fast”, and my brief warm up around the start area didnt look encouraging. He said there was a lot of climb in the first mile.
The start , though, was an immediate drop, so it was a total cattle stampede the first tenth of a mile. Once we bottomed out there was a slow climb out of the YMCA grounds and onto YMCA rd. I was trying to lay back some because of the hills to come, but damned if I’m not already hating life. Feels like I’ve decided to go for a jog with a fur parka and a face mask. Just suffocating. We hit a nasty hill after joining the paved road and I figure this is what Justin was talking about. I’m getting destroyed by Talkington and Tisdale so I try to ramp up the pace a little so I can really push it once I get over this hill. I suck some wind with the effort, crest the hill, and I’m rewarded with the real monster – probably a half mile slog up a mountain to Two Notch Road way in the distance. This is going to get ugly.
Halfway up the mountain I get my first mile split at 6:53, a full 50 seconds slower than my last 5k. Nice. Not to mention I’m feeling like death after this tempo mile. The hill just never ends and sucks my will to live. Finally, probably at least 1.25 miles in, we get to Two Notch and have about 100 meters of glorious flatness before turning back down the mountain on a parallel street. Normally I’d be crushing it down the decline, but my lungs are still in my throat after rappelling up Mount Red Bank, and someone’s added a another layer to the fur parka and stuffed cotton balls in the face mask. I had been running by myself but at least I’m starting to make up ground on Talkington. Angel is way ahead too but he’s doing the 10k. I think mile 2 was around 6:40 which dives me into an even deeper funk. I finally catch Brian right after the 2 mile point and the course levels out onto a dirt road. Just when I start to get some wind back, when I am shamed by some teenage kid who looks like he’s in middle school – just leaves me for dead. I’m in the middle of justifying this fact, that he must be on the cross country team or something, when some girl who looks like she’s one of my 5th grade son’s classmates passes me too. I’m not only getting chicked..I’m getting chicked by a child. Man, this could be a worse shame than getting double blue shoed by the Pale Beast in March. Well, maybe not that bad. One more painful hill and an out and back loop up a cul de sac. I’ve actually started to approximate real 5k pace at this time. I’m blasting it out as fast as I can go, but I am just a wreck. And I’m not gaining any ground on the underage duo in front of me. At least Talkington is hurting too when I see him on the turnaround. One last plunge into the YMCA grounds again and I’m flopping around like bass on the dock. I finally see the clock and I’m surprised its still on 20. I finish in 20:49 in a sweaty, gasping mess. Slowest 5k since I did the Dry run as a full on gimp post fall. But hey – first in age group and 9th overall. A hollow victory indeed but I added a Red Bank glass to my YMCA collection. And congrats 12 year old Anna Jenkins – you outkicked the blue shoes.
Plex won the 5k by over 2 minutes in 17:41, with Billy Tisdale rocking second place in 19:59. Erin Suttman and Anna Jenkins went 1-2 in the women’s race right in front of me. At least Erin is 21. In the age groups, Brittany Robbins took 2nd in the 14-16. Alex Wilcox won 1st in the 25-29 and was 5th overall. Meme won the 40-44 by like 7 minutes, and no recurrence of the Jailbreak walksies. Stevie Dee took 2nd and almost broke 30 again with these brutal conditions. Mike Griffin won 2nd in the 55-59 behind Billy. Alex Ponamarev and Pete Poore went 1-2 in the 60-64 to no one’s surprise. Grand Prixer Brigitte Smith won the 60-64 female while Jan Hardwick and Peter Mugglestone took the 65-69. Aronld Floyd, Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg swept the 70+.
In the 10k, Angel won easily in 41 minutes, with Syd’s rival Whitney Drozd taking first female and 2nd overall. James Hicks took 2nd in the 35-39. Pam Griffin won 2nd in the 45-49, while Joe Roof won second among the men. Cheryl and Tommy Outlaw both won their age groups and Gizmo was so proud.