Race for the Place and March for Meals Wild 5k Double Dip – Columbia, SC – 2/21/2015


I looked at this week a couple months ago and I was really bummed that two races I like were opting for the same date. Race for the Place (RFTP) is a super competitive, flat and fast rectangle in Shandon. Its always a challenge to even place in my age group there, but I love the ceramic tile awards. I”ve run it every year since it began in 2011.  The March for Meals (MFM) used to be run at Riverbanks Zoo, and was the site of my very first age group trophy in 2009 – a gateway drug into a full blown racing addiction.

I had been slack in signing up, but I went ahead and registered for RFTP on Thursday afternoon. I figured this would be my best opportunity for a sub 19 – the course was super flat and I’d have some competition to help me pace. Once committed to RFTP, I was curious about the course at MFM since they were scrapping the old venue for a new course on the Timmerman trail in Cayce. Just as I was about to log off I noticed the 9 am start. Wait a second…

Sure enough, RFTP started at 8 am. Some quick google mapping and mental arithmetic yielded this – I needed 19 minutes for RFTP and 15 minutes for travel. If everything went right, this would be a very doable double dip. I was in.

Of course, the one hour double dip is not for the newbie nor the faint of heart. First, you better hope the second race has early packet pick up. If it’s going to be tight you don’t want to be standing in line sweating it out to get your bib. Luckily, MFM had this at Strictly Running on Friday.  Second – car parking is key. You need to make sure you have an easy getaway. Nothing’s worse than mistakenly parking on the race course and being unable to move your car. Third – mental preparation. The whole point is gunning for as many Tour de Columbia points as possible, so taking it easy in one or both races isn’t going to work. You have to be willing to jump in the pain cave, come out, and get pushed right back in…probably further the next time.

But, having learned under the tutelage of legendary double dippers William Schmitz, John Gasque and Pete Poore, I had my strategy down pat. I was going to have to do this more often this year anyway, since Brandenburg has been scared to death of a Sasquatchian attack on his TDC Masters championship. I turn 40 on March 3. He has to train for the Kona Ironman later this year. One problem – he double dipped last week and had 6 races under his belt already. He had 50 something points to my zero heading into this weekend.

Race #1 Race for the Place

I got there an hour early, and had a perfect spot on Devine St, even pointing towards the next race. I laid out my second shirt and bib in the car while I went to get the RFTP bib. Awesome shirt this year, by the way – one I’ll actually wear instead of contributing to the ginormous pile in the corner of my bedroom. One mile to warm up in the brutal cold, then I run into Joyce and Code. Joyce is racing but the Code is still on injured reserve. We end up basically running the whole course before I realize a 4 mile warm up is probably not the brightest idea before a sub 19 attempt or a double dip. Also not a good idea – indulging in my mom’s chili and multiple beers at a family get together the night before. Yeah, don’t do that.

As expected, this place is crawling with racing studs. Bishop, OJ, Shawanna, MC, Luke Godwin, Justin Jones, Kenneth “Son of Beast” Vowles,  Sarah and Eric Allers, – this was going to be brutal.  Familiar faces and names included: Pete O’Boyle, Coke Mann, Arnold Floyd, Rafael Marquez, Angel, David Russell, Norm Ferris, Kris Litman-Koon, Brittany Robbins, Renee McCormick, Lois Leaburn, Teresa Harrington, Mickie Ishizue, Alsena Edwards, Tom Beattie, Gasque, Alex Ponamarev, Kate Ferlauto, Ron Hagell, Shirley Smith, Ken and Patti Lowden, Kat Hudgins, Sharon Sherbourne, Samuel Striggles,  and Susannah Cole.

Oh, and lest I forget, Jeff Brandenburg. Like Fight Club, I guess the first rule about double dipping is “don’t talk about double dipping”. Not only was he here, but doing MFM as well. We are not helping the whole “psycho psychiatrist” stereotype.

The start is insane. So many beasts in this thing, its hard not to get caught in the stampede, especially with a downhill stretch to start. I’m hoping for a sub 6 first mile so I try to keep up. I’m used to the crowd thinning out pretty quick at this pace but a half mile in I’ve still got lots of company. Brandenburg, Shawanna and MC are just ahead of me and Luke Godwin is attached at my hip. Kris Litman Koon is also up in the mix, so I assume he’s been hitting the training pretty hard.  A few soft rolling inclines and I am just not feeling it. Lots of wind suckage and fatigue, and I start cursing myself thinking how bad MFM is going to suck after this. But hey, maybe I’m rocking like a 5:50 or something. Uh, nope. 6:08 at Mile 1. This would be fine – a 6:07 will get you a 18:59. What’s not fine is me wanting to quit right there. Sure enough, I mentally and physically fade out for a bit and then realize Luke is dropping me and MC/Jeff/Shawanna are starting to gap me a bit too. Must. Keep. Up. It feels like forever but we finally hit the other side of the rectangle on Queen Street, and I’m hurting pretty bad. Angel has just been out for a training run and tells me to catch Brandenburg. I’m going to try my best. Mile 2 in 6:15. Not too bad, given my general feeling of death. I try to ramp it up, knowing I’ll need a sub 6 effort to get me in the 18’s. Lungs are definitely protesting the brain’s decision, unfortunately. Just cant get enough wind in me. What’s worse is that they are letting cars go behind me, so I feel like I’m dead last. We do a little squiggle from Wheat to Blossom, and I know its just a flat half mile to go. Adrenaline takes over and I start drawing nearer to the pack. I see Luke break from the front but JB, Shawanna and MC in are in a tight pack. For a moment I think I’m going to blast through the three of them in a headless chicken kick, but it was not to be. They all kicked in too, and they remained just out of reach. The last couple of blocks or so I see the clock and its already in the 18:50’s. Damn. No chance.  I flop across the line in 19:17. I feel like remaining on the ground in the fetal position but then I realize I have to get the hell out of here. I take a few pics and try to tell Colleen to pick up my AG award, though I’m still panting like a banshee and my heart is beating like an Avett Brothers kick drum.  Plus, I’ve gotten beat by so many people I dont even know if I placed.

Luckily OJ won the race, taking him out of the AG and giving me the consolation 3rd place. Man this AG sucks. 15th overall. Behind OJ was Justin Bishop, finishing 2nd in 16:20. Justin Jones finished 3rd, just a step ahead of Kenneth Vowles. In the women’s race, Caroline Peyton crushed the field in 18:09 followed by Shawanna and MC a few seconds over 19. Team Allers cleaned up the masters division with wins by Eric (17:58) and Sarah (20:33). Age group honor roll: Samuel Striggles placed 2nd in the 2-14. Kenneth crushed a 17:26 but just had to show up to claim his 15-19 age group of one. Brittany Robbins eked out a 20 minute win in the girls 15-19.  Team Utopia’s David Russell ran 6 flat pace and claimed first in the 25-29. Kris Litman-Koon hung on for a strong 20:06 and 2nd in the 30-34, with Rafael Marquez 3rd in 21:39. Luke Godwin got his sub 19 with an 18:58 and 2nd in the 35-39 AG, Kate Ferlauto placed 3rd on the women’s side. Coke Mann rocked his 621 ninja custom shoes and claimed first in the 40-44. Some psycho psychiatrist took 1st in the 45-49, we wont mention his name. In the 45-49 women, Joyce rocked a new PR 22:12, followed by Sandra Ricciuto and race director Missy Caughman (great job Missy!). Tom Beattie placed 3rd in the 50-54 in a definitely-faster-than-Wes-Spratt time of 24:01. Renee McCormick took first in the women’s 50-54, ahead of Melanie Davega and tri addict Marlena Crovatt-Bagwell. Alsena Edwards, Lois Leaburn and Shirley Smith swept the 55-59, with Pete O’Boyle and John Gasque claiming 1st and 3rd on the men’s side. Sharon Sherbourne was the champion of the 60-64. Norm Ferris, Alex Ponamarev and Ron Hagell swept a brutal 65-69 category, with Patti Lowden and Brigitte Smith going 1-2 among the women. Arnold Floyd crushed the 70+ division as always.



Race #2 March for Meals “Wild” Run 5k

OK, so Google Maps had a 14 minute drive from St Joseph’s church (site of RFTP) and the Timmerman Trail. I must have thought I was still racing because I made it there in ten. In keeping with the theme of the day, I arrived just seconds after Brandenburg. We did a half mile or so of warmup, but when you’ve just finished a hard 5k fifteen minutes ago, it didnt take long.

March for Meals was decidedly less competitive, as expected, though they had a good crowd. Heavy on the race shirt wearing variety. Plexico seems to win this race every year, and sure enough he came out to defend his title. I swear he’s won it every time I’ve run. Will Brumbach and Micah Simonsen were there, proving I can’t catch a break in my age group. Other familiar faces were Brie McGrievy (with daughter Sabine), Jennifer Reeves, Dina Mauldin, Pam Inman, Lucia Velicu, Jeff Smith, Steve Rudnicki, Cheryl and Tommy Outlaw + Gizmo, Sue Porter, Barbara Brandenburg ,  Rocky Soderberg and Paul Bates. The Chick Fil A cow was there, so I made sure I got my mascot fetish pic in. It was cool to see Dawn Staley, USC women’s basketball coach (26-1, #2 in the country) there to start the race.

The start felt like crap, as my legs and lungs were wondering why the hell I was abusing them twice in one morning. First quarter mile is on a dirt road before entering the trail, which is a winding concrete route through the forest. Plex doesnt take long to leave us all in the dust, but JB and a handful of kids surge to the front of the non-Lightning pack. Brumbach jumps in front of me along with Micah, so here I am in the top 8 or so and already running 3rd in age group. We hit the concrete trail and I ride Micah like an overgrown gorilla before he eventually relents and lets me pass. My legs are trashed but one saving grace is that this race is flat as a pancake. Literally no hills. It’s still not a super fast route, because I’m having to engage some of my new found Make-My-Day trail agility to round all these twists and turns. JB and Brumbach have left me for dead but I make sure to keep at least a visual on them up ahead. I dont even worry about Garmin splits since I figure they’re probably useless out here in the forest with a million turns. I’d probably be too depressed to see my pace too, because its a hell of a lot slower.

About a mile and a half in, we jump out of the woods onto the dirt Old State Rd, which oddly enough I’ve run before on leg 2 of the Palmetto 200. This little part sucks because it’s a short out and back, with the turnaround as a cone in the middle of the narrow road. Bringing my tractor trailer -like physique into a hairpin turn around this cone brings me to a complete stop, and it about kills me to get back up to 5k pace. No more stealth with JB and Brumbach since they obviously see me on the turnaround. I see Micah right on my tail too.

We head back towards the finish road and I get all excited because I’m more than ready to get this thing over with. I’ve managed to pass a couple more people and its just me, a random kid, JB and Will. I finally break my Garmin blindness and see my watch not even on 2.5 miles, and sure enough they’re directing us away from the finish. Looks like I’ll be riding this out on fumes, because I’ve got about nothing left. One more loop through the forest and we come back out on the finish road. I figure this time its for real. I try to kick it in but JB and the kid are too far ahead. Brumbach has burned us all and takes second place. As we hit the final paved stretch, the kid pulls a page from the Blue Shoe book and blasts by JB on his right. JB notices at the last second and they both sprint to a photo finish. I see the clock around 19:30 and I about give up a lung to break 20, finishing in 19:49. 2nd in AG (behind Will) and 5th overall. Happy to get two sub 20’s in less than an hour, though since my goal for this year is a sub 40 10k, I better be able to do this. Between missing the sub 19 at RFTP, getting viciously double Brandenburged, and scoring all of 10 TDC points, its hard to call this morning a big success. Cool races though.

As predicted, Plex cruised to the easy win in 17:37. Will got second in 19:24 with the kid (Mike Schrum, actually age 25) edging JB out by a microsecond for third. Poor Jeff.  This race is perennially a women’s trophy hunt for some reason. Gina Campbell took the win in 23:02, followed by Barb Brandenburg and Mikayla Morales.

AG honors: Sabine McGrievy, age 6, rocked a 35:23 and third in the 2-10 age group. Ryan Sacko won the 30-34 men. Micah placed third in our brutal 35-39 and 7th overall. JB took the 45-49 with Steve Hunter 3rd. Barb won the 45-49 women followed by Palmetto Runners’ Pam Inman and Jennifer Reeves. Jeff Smith finished 2nd in the 50-54. Sue Porter and Cheryl Outlaw placed 1st and 3rd in the 55-59, while Steve Rudnicki and Tommy Outlaw topped the men’s division. Jan Hardwick claimed the 65-69 men, while Rocky Soderberg took 2nd in the 70+.











Make My Day 12k – Harbison State Forest – Columbia,SC – 2/14/15


Make my Day is a trail  5k and 12k, now in its 6th year, run in Harbison State Forest. It’s run by Half Moon Outfitters and proceeds go directly to benefit the park. Being a trail race, I didnt give it a try at first, but between the awesome shirts, pistol awards and major race swag, I finally gave it a go in 2013. I don’t remember a whole lot about that race, other than it being brutal and getting a beatdown by Charley and his dog Winston. Last year it was snowy and I was still recovering from the cliff dive, so I opted for the 5k. For some reason, the 5k became an epic cluster and people were running anywhere from 2 to 7 miles. I was upset since I thought I’d finally secured my age group pistol. Alas, they scrapped all the awards and I went home grumpy again. Never get between the Sasquatch and his shiny trinkets.

But I’m back to my pre-cliff self now, so I was going to give it another try, this time back in the 12k. Its one of the more competitive trail races, so I’d have my work cut out for me.

Trails and I have a love/hate  relationship. I live a half mile from Sesquicentennial State Park, aka Jeff Brandenburg’s backyard. I do the trails there all the time, enjoying the soft mountain bike route and brutalizing myself on the mountain of the entrance road there. So training off-road has never been a problem. Racing, on the other hand, has been a whole ball of suck. I’m like twice the size of runners with similar ability. Put me on some winding single track and it’s more like an elephant stampede through the jungle. Also, I’m a faller, in case you didnt realize. You dont have to throw a 20 foot Hawaiian cliff in front of me – I busted my ass 2 weekends ago over the rugged terrain of a Devine Street sidewalk.  Get me on the Harbison trails and you can pretty much bet I’ll be crashing down at some point. But at least I’m not like the Vowles clan. Ken (i.e. the Pale Beast, aka the Pointsmaster)  and Colleen have both been bloodied by Harbison, and their son Kenneth had to go to the ER after an epic wipeout at Xterra last year. Yikes.

So it was not without trepidation that I showed up at Harbison for my first trail race since Climb the Clay last May. Like the Long Run, it is cold as balls again. Around thirty degrees, though at least its sunny. Its been pretty dry recently so the trails are in great condition. Warmed up about a half mile with James Hicks. All the trail beasts are on board, i.e. the Harbison Trail Runners. Rick Stroud has brought all his South Carolina Runners of Trails and Ultra Marathons (SCROTUM, the best running group name ever) to this thing, and they look ready to claim the home team advantage. Brian “El Capitan” Clyburn and wife Jen, Eric Bopp, Craig Wlaschin, Jay Hammond, Yerg, Drew Williams, Bill Siebers, Dean Schuster, Winston Holliday were out wearing the gray “Blood Chit” shirts and representing. CRC brought out our trail warriors with Geary McAlister, Larry Bates and Dina Mauldin from last year’s trail series championship. Other familiar faces included Micah Simonsen, Jason Thompson, Jeremy Becraft, Lorand Batten, Pete O’ Boyle, David Johnson, Joe and Luke Naylor, Sandra Ricciuto, Mark/Sherry/Alex Robertson, Teresa Harrington, Lois Leaburn, Greta Dobe, Sheila Subbarao and Paige Tyler in the 12k. In the 5k, Meg Weis appeared to have the easy win. Ian Clawson, James Hicks, Jennifer Conrick. Heath/Brady Ward, Arnold Floyd, and Stephanie “Stevie Dee” Dukes were also on hand.

With the start I apparently had too much caffeine because I took off like a bat out of hell. I think somehow I had a completely ridiculous thought I would run this at 6:30ish pace like a flat road 12k. Um, wrong answer. The race starts on an incline and then splits the 5k and 12k at the top.  Entering the first section of trail, I am rudely awakened to the fact that a) this is definitely not like the roads and b) this sure as hell isn’t Sesqui. Roots, switchbacks, sudden inclines, crevices, logs – I feel completely out of control rumbling through this course and I’m firing all kinds of muscles I never use. I’m not more than a half mile in before Clyburn and his dog start what will be a virtual conga line of people passing me.  After the Clyburn pass, I try and speed up but I feel like there’s a rabid bear chasing me down every step. Turns out this rabid bear is named Drew Williams, who passes me like I’m standing still. Man this sucks. I can feel the lactic acid and feeling of impending bonktastrophe overcoming me already.  Here comes Bill, Bopp, Dean and Winston leapfrogging over me over the course of the next mile or so as I start entering full on Debbie Downer mode.

I have no sense of where I am, despite the number of times I’ve run Harbison, because in racing the course I’ve spent almost all my time looking at the ground, desperately trying not to fall. Not that I haven’t tried, as I’d already had 2 near wipeouts by the time I’ve reached the Midlands Mountain trail.  At least I’m keeping up with the back of the 5 person Dean train ahead of me.

Midlands Mountain is aptly named. My legs, already burning from the abuse of the first few miles, trudge up a hellacious climb and I’m reduced to nearly a walk. Luckily everybody else is dying too. We pass a group from Kore fitness with Jenny Prather and David Nance, with Jenny telling me “Looking good!”. I didn’t know she was capable of such lies. I’m just about cashed – I had momentarily caught Winston when he stopped for water, but he’s passed and dropped me again. Another nasty incline with switchbacks, and my caboose to this train is about off the tracks. I’m losing sight of the guys in front of me, and my brain is begging me to just mail in the rest.

But all of a sudden we start hitting some flat stretches. Gloriously flat and straight. My legs, fried from all the lateral movement and climbing, can finally stride out. I wouldn’t say I felt good again, but at least I wasnt crumpled over in pain. I start making some serious headway on the guys in front of me and I eventually catch up to Winston and a younger guy. My Garmin suddenly beeps and I realize I’ve been ignoring it the whole time. I look down for my 4 mile split and it gives me like a 7:50, which is probably useless with all the hills and forest. But just as I put my arm down the split time goes away and I do a double take…holy crap its for five miles. Somehow with all the shoegazing I mentally missed a whole mile. Sweet – lets get this thing done.

A long slightly uphill, but straight, stretch opens up. Winston passes the other dude and I follow suit. Dean’s about 50 meters ahead. I start recognizing some of the finishing stretch of Rudolphs rampage and Xterra, so I know we are getting close. And thats enough to start throwing down. Knowing Dean probably could navigate Harbison in the dark, I take aim at him and start chasing. One problem, he’s speeding up too. Over a couple of logs, then a short water crossing. Like a steeplechase from hell.  I’m redlining it pretty bad and not making a lot of headway, sort of a slow creep. I know there’s one brutal hill to go, and I’ve drawn pretty close as it comes into view.

I attack the hill as hard as I can go, figuring this is my chance. I can’t fly gracefully over technical singletrack, but I can get my sasquatch ass up a hill. My neighborhood is a freaking mountain range and I make Jeff Brandenburg’s Sesqui sand hell part of my weekly routine. About three quarters up I finally catch Dean. I’d like to say it was a triumphant pass. But it was decidedly less so with both of us barely moving and sucking wind like two grandmas out for a mall walk.  As soon as I reach the top I headless chicken it. Hard as I can go. I keep worrying that I’m at very high risk for falling now, but I’m dead set on getting this thing done. I know Yerg hasnt passed me, so I think I might have an outside chance at some age group glory. Finally I hit the last stretch and almost catch a kid as I flop over the line in 56 minutes and change. I barely turn around and Dean finishes just a couple seconds behind me. Good thing I didn’t look back!

56:47 officially, and 2nd in age group! First time I’ve placed in this race, though technically 1st (Tim Gibbons) and 2nd (Jeremy Becraft) are in my AG too, so I’ll claim all of 4th place and 3 points on the Tour de Columbia on this one. It was a good trail effort for me, and I’m very happy to finish even in the middle of the pack of Harbison runners. I was initially disappointed they scrapped the awesome pistol awards this year (it was their signature),  but the sponsors went nuts on the swag. Besides the medal, 2nd place got me a pair of 65 dollar shoes from Half Moon. Very nice. Drew got first and got a 100 dollar gift card and a hat. Pretty sweet for an overall, much less an age group.

Speaking of overall 12k, Tim Gibbons won in 50:13, followed by Jeremy Becraft and Christopher Powell. In the women’s race, Jani Linde took the win in 1:00:36, followed by Emily Morrow and Shamia Thompson. 12k AG honor roll: Luke Naylor took home the 1-12 win, with Alex Robertson claiming 2nd in the 13-19. Micah Simonsen finished about 30 seconds behind me to claim 3rd in my AG, with Jason Thompson right behind him. I better watch my back. The 40-49 group was just insane with all 3 under 56 minutes: Eric Bopp, Brian Clyburn and John Gibbons.  The 50-59 wasn’t much easier with Jay Hammond winning over Geary McAlister and Larry Bates – all three under an hour. Harry Strick took the 60+.

Jen “She Hulk” Clyburn won the 30-39 women. She doubled up with the Polar Bear challenge at Lake Murray later. #hardcore status earned. CRC’s Lana Morrison took 2nd in the 40-44, with tri beast Lisa Powell winning the 50-59. Brigitte Smith was champion of the 60+.

In the 5k, Brian Carrington took home the win in 21:34 followed by Chris Hill and Ryan Gadow. As predicted, Meg Weis easily took the women’s win followed by Sarah French and Jennifer Conrick. In the age groups, Brady “Junior Diesel” Ward placed 2nd and Tyler Robertson 3rd in the 1-12. Ian Clawson claimed 2nd in the 13-19. James Hicks trophy hunted well in the 30-39, taking 1st. CRC went 1-2 in the 40-44 women with Stephanie Dukes and Tracy Tisdale-Williams taking home some swag. Roy Shelley placed 3rd in the brutal men’s 40-49. Arnold Floyd had a tough competitior (Donald Cline) in the 60+ but held him off for the win.





MGC Long Run 15k – Columbia,SC – 2/7/15


15k’s , like their brethren the 10 miler and the 12k, are the red headed stepchildren of the distance racing world. They’re pretty tough to find, and no one knows how to pace them. I figure I’ve run a couple hundred road races by now, and exactly two of them are the oddball 9.3 mile distance.

My first attempt was in 2009 at the now defunct Labor Day Fitness Festival 15k. This is when I was just starting out and my main concern was my ability to actually run the whole distance. I set a distance PR at that race, managing to avoid the walksies and even push the pace in the last 2 miles to finish in 1:16. My only other attempt at the distance was in 2012 at the also now-defunct (do I sense a pattern?) Wildewood Fitness Festival 15k, which ranks as one of my most miserable performances of all time. I ran the race at an all out effort but managed to only pull marathon pace, slogging through in 1:10 and change (7:35 pace). https://tourdeblueshoes.com/2012/05/06/wildewood-fitness-festival-15k-and-4-miler-ne-columbia-sc-5512/ So, to say my 15k PR is a little soft would be a bit of an understatement.

I had planned to exact my revenge on the 15k last year at the debut of this race, but my wonky achilles at the time decided to make me a scratch just before the race day. I was bummed because reportedly there was some serious race swag in the packet. I ended up showing up and just taking pics at that race. Everyone seemed happy with the new event, save for a brutal course, so I definitely planned to make it back in 2015. This year there was also a course revision to take out a few hills – awesome.

Heading into this race I was feeling pretty good about the training. I’ve still struggled on some long runs since Kiawah but the 5k speed is coming back quickly. Pacing for the 15k would be a bit of a challenge. One good thing about being a total racing freak is there’s plenty of recent data to help. Half marathon in Savannah (totally flat and a huge PR) was like 6:44 pace, the Red Shoe 10k 2 weeks ago (also flat) was 6:34. Since the 15k falls almost right between the two distances, I decided to shoot for 6:40 – though I figured I’d probably skew more towards the half marathon pace with the hills.

I show up at the race, and the first thing I notice (other than freezing my nuts off in the 30 degrees +wind) is that this place is teeming with road racing studs. I think I’ve stumbled upon the absolute antithesis of the trophy hunt. The Strictly Red Storm front has apparently moved in, because all of them are out in force, even their ultimate ringer, Michael Banks from Charleston. Coach B has his elite ladies (except for injured Shannon) with Kenzie, MC,  Erin, Jen and Linn. Coach B is running the 5k, and Ryan Plexico, Jeff Brandenburg, Jeff Godby, Luke Godwin and Jonathan Kinsey are also in tow. Palmetto Runners fielded Meme Spurgeon, Lucia Velicu, and Angel Manuel. Eric Ashton was on board himself, with his ladies team ( Excellent Athletics) of Alyssa Bloomquist and Heather Costello. And lets not forget the Black and Gold. Coach Bishop, Colleen, Michael Nance, Mike Compton, Chris Fawver, Ashley Horton, Eliere and Ivanka Tolan, Lorikay Keinzle, Julia Early, Daniel Patrick , Brittany Robbins  and myself were representing from Team Utopia South.

Other Columbia Running Club peeps, in addition to many of the above, were Scott Flicker (also with Columbia Christian Runners), Larry Jourdain, Howie Phan, Winston Holliday, Geary McAlister, Jeff Burgess, Larry Bates, Trophy Mcgaha, Jamey Wilson, Joe Roff, Mary Howk, Rick Gibbons, Rafael Marquez, Coleen Strasburger, Mark Robertson, Kathryn Ryan, James Hicks, Jenn Covington, Mike Griffin, Michael Jensen, James Lichty, Lana Morrison, Lisa King, Harry Strick, Lynn Grimes, Wes and Rhea Spratt, Chris Vokaty, Teresa Harrington, Donna Freeman, Sandra Ricciuto, Renee McCormick, April Hutto, Tommy Outlaw, Paige Tyler, Ken Lowden,  Pam Griffin, Lisa Smarr, Jim Manning, Brandi Bradley, Sherry Robertson, Jennifer Reeves, Birgit Spann, Barbara Brandenburg, Tom Beattie, Arnold Floyd,  John Gasque, Pete Poore,  Derek and daughter Madelyn Gomez, Chip Lupo, Rocky Soderberg, Patti Lowden, Henry Holt, Melinda Petruzzi, Sharon Sherbourne, and Sandra Manning.

Other familiar faces Heather and Will Brumbach (621 ninjas),  Lee Moore and Robbie “O.G.”McClendon (Fitness World Running Club), Whitney Keen,  Kristin Cattieu, Paul Drohomirecky, Hou-Yin Chang, Dawn Woodrow, Dolly Rodgers, Gregory Jones, Albert Anderson, Jason Lockhart.

So, yeah, everyone and their mom turned up for this one. The Code , Joyce, Tracy and Stephanie were doing the Save the Light Half down in Folly though. They certainly got the flatter course, and got to meet blog celebrity Amy “The Tiny Terror” Scott-Lundy.

I did less than a mile warmup with Trophy and Jamey, and its just freaking freezing. 28 degrees according to my Garmin. Thankfully they have the First Citizens building open, where I weaseled my way into an executive level bathroom. Certainly beats the frozen portapotties.

After the national anthem and an all-important mascot photo with Cocky, we were off. I was told the first few miles are flat and downhill, and they are as advertised. It includes a good bit of the Bunny Hop course.  In the first half mile I’m running with  Geary and Robbie and Geary starts “shaming” me that I’m running too slow. Whatever dude – you’ve smoked me plenty of times before. The first mile feels pretty brisk, and sure enough comes back at 6:26.  I can see Flicker and Angel up ahead running beside an unknown girl in blue, and I try to focus on keeping them in range. I try to tell myself to slow down but someone is using me as a human windshield. I finally turn around and see that its Howie tucking behind my significant wake. Given my sasquatchity, I hardly blame him. Another flat mile for number 2 at almost the same pace. Mile 3 is deceptive because its actually a slow incline up to Gervais street, and I’m already feeling winded. This cant be good. It’s definitely a relief to finally hit Gervais, where it levels out again. Angel mysteriously drops out at this point, though says he’s ok. I hate to see people drop, but my evil maniacal trophy hunting dark side gives me the idea that maybe I can sneak in an age group placement now. Bwa ha ha ha. Mile 3 has a clock and I pass it right around 19:50. Just in front of the state house begins the very long, wonderful downhill into the vista. Man it was sweet. Its at a perfect decline to maintain your pace without feeling like you have to brake. Totally recovered from that first 5k. I know I would need it.

Up ahead, girl in blue is just killing it and has dropped Flicker like a bad habit. I finally catch up with Scott on the Gervais st bridge, having kicked it in a bit to lose my Howie shadow. Just after the bridge is the beginning of the pain. First a nasty little incline up to State Street which I hadnt even thought about. Bailing out to Cafe Strudel at this point sounds pretty good, especially seeing warm people sipping coffee and eating breakfast. But hey, wouldnt you rather be out in the 30 degree weather testing the limits of your pain tolerance? Yeah, I’m that sick bastard.

We do a weird turn on C avenue then right back on B avenue, infamous as the Ray Tanner 12k hill. Born from the diabolical dark side of Ken Lowden, B avenue is gradual and endless. Any good feelings from the flight down Gervais are way out the window by the time I’m halfway up. What’s worse, is the 15k course goes up a whole other block from the Ray Tanner turn off. I do manage to lose Flicker at this point and by the time I’m at the top I’m completely alone. There’s a nice flat stretch on 10th, E Ave and 9th , the entirety of which I use to stop sucking wind like a rabid polar bear in heat. The 2 mile slog up from the Vista has blown up my pace to 6:40 and  6:56 for miles 5 and 6.

The turn on to Knox Abbott is like heaven. A whole mile of downhill opens up and my lungs finally recover from their beatdown. I start getting grandiose and thinking about crushing the last 5k to get near an hour.  I can actually see blue girl and another guy up ahead now,  but it feels like I’m getting a police escorted training run, since they are letting cars go ahead and behind me. Mile 7 in 6:29. I start getting mentally prepared for climbing the Blossom Street hill. But as I cross the flat bridge, I realize I forgot about the damn overpass. Yes, again Ken Lowden has forsaken me. The overpass over the railroad on Blossom is the first nasty hill of the Ray Tanner 12k and it kills me every time. Today is no different. All the euphoria of Knox Abbott is blasted out of my lungs, and my legs are also beginning to complain about the abuse.

With the overpass punch to the gut still leaving me reeling, I get maybe a quarter mile of flat before Mount Blossom starts. Oh and it sucks. The part before Assembly is rough, but the area between Assembly and Main make me want to cry for my mommy. In the middle of my Price is Right hillclimber slog, a car full of sorority girls mockingly scream at me. I give them a full Ric Flair style “Woooo” before nearly collapsing into a walk. Whats worse is the turn on Main leaves a little more meat on the Blossom st bone, an agonizing additional incline that makes me want to crawl into the fetal position.  Finally I make it to the back of the State house and its flat again. I’m trying to mount a kick but I am pretty much toast. I dont even look at the mile 9 split (6:57) but once I hear it I empty whatever I have left in the tank. I start hitting the back of the pack 5kers at this point but luckily they’re pretty sparse (this is like 40+ minutes after their start). I’ve actually closed on blue girl and the other guy but I’m too far behind to catch them. On the last straight I make out the clock around 1:01:30 and sprint it out to get under 1:02. 1:01:51 officially. 19th overall and agonizingly 4th in age group.  Yes, the dude who covets his trophies most is the first person left out. I would have won the 40-44 if I was one month older, and would have placed in any of the other age groups. You 35-39 guys are killing me.

In the overall 15k, Michael Banks just missed resetting the state record set last year by Kimutai Cheruiyot, taking the race in 45:49. Unlike last year, where Cheruiyot was seven minutes ahead of the field, Banks had company with Chapel Hill’s Hillary Too. Too finished just 6 seconds behind in 45:56. Both around 4:55 minute pace – incredible. Oh, and Too is 35, so I cleared one measly Tour de Columbia point. 40 cant come soon enough. You can tell I’m not bitter though. Brett Morley finished 3rd in 49:31. C’mon Brett, 5:19 pace? So weak.

In the women’s race Zipporah Chebet (53:55) won by a minute over EA’s Alyssa Bloomquist (54:57), with SR’s Kenzie Riddle (57:56) placing third. All smokin’ fast as well.

In masters, Ashton claimed first and 4th overall. You know you’ve got an absolute beast of a field when Eric doesnt get top 3. Linn Hall claimed female masters.

Age group honor roll: Brittany Robbins took 3rd in the 15-19, while TUS also scored in the 25-29 with 2nd place Daniel Patrick. Jennnifer Lybrand finished 2nd in the 25-29. Justin Bishop had to resort to a rare age group, winning the 30-34 with Jonathan Kinsey 2nd. Kristin Cattieu and Jamey Wilson went 1-2 in the women’s 30-34. Erin Miller won the 35-39 with “the blue girl” Heather Brumbach placing 2nd. I would have recognized Heather but she so rudely never let me catch her. Lee Moore decided to go ahead and turn 35 and win my age group, with Michael Nance a second behind. Third place went to Toby Selix, who was about 45 seconds in front of me. Doh! Some familiar names in the 40-44 with Colleen Vowles, Jennifer Conrick and Julia Early taking the women’s division, and Scott Flicker , Jeff Godby and Whitney Keen in the men. Winston Holliday, Jeff Burgess and Paul Drohomirecky won the 45-49. Jenn Covington doesnt race much but apparently has gotten blazing fast of late, taking down the speedy Dawndy Plank in the 45-49 women. Larry Jourdain and Howie Phan went 1-2 in the 50-54. Chantal Faure and Coleen Strasburger won the 50-54 women. Beasts Geary McAlister, Larry Bates and the OG swept the 55-59. Lorikay Keinzle, Alsena Edwards and Donna Freeman clamed an also very competitive 55-59 women. Mike Compton, Jack Kuenzie and Harry Strick swept the 60-64 men.  Mary Howk continues to amaze with a 1:13 in the 60-64 women that would have also beat all the guys. Her 85 percent age grade would place her 5th overall among all men and women in this race. Lynn Grimes took 3rd. Shawn Chillag and Ken Lowden went 1-2 in the 65-69, while Brigitte Smith took 2nd among the women.

Let’s not forget all the trophy hunters in the undercard 5k.  FYI, though the 15k has its mountains, the 5k is a blazing flat and fast course. Jud Brooker took the overall win with Plexico second. 15 year old Johnny Clemens placed third. EA’s Heather Costello took the women’s  win in 18:58 followed by SR’s MC Cox and Theresa Penney. Sadly I missed the epic battle of masters beasts with Jeff Brandenburg just edging Mark Bedenbaugh 18:51 to 18:55 to place 4th and 5th overall. Birgit Spann won female masters.

Age groups: Madelyn Gomez is apparently as talented as her dad, blazing to a 29:06 at age 9 and taking the 2-10 division. Ashley Horton took 2nd in the 25-29. The 35-39 was no joke in the 5k either, with Luke Godwin blazing a 19:02 and Will Brumbach 2nd in 19:21. Lucia Velicu placed third among the 35-39 women. Meme Spurgeon took a break from receiving CRC and Palmetto grand Prix accolades this week and easily won the 40-44.  Barbara Brandenburg won the 45-49. Gregory Jones smoked a 19:18 and crushed the 55-59, with John Gasque 2nd. Melinda Petruzzi has adopted a Blue Shoes style racing schedule and won the women’s 55-59. Pete Poore took the 60-64 with Sharon Sherbourne taking 2nd among the women. Albert Anderson and Ron Hagell wwent 1-2 in the 65-69. Patti Lowden won the women’s 65-69. Arnold Floyd and Rocky Soderberg went 1-2 in the 70-74, with Henry Holy taking the 75+.







Dutch Fork Be a Fan 5k – Irmo, SC – 1/31/15


I have a confession to make – I was supposed to be a Dutch Fork Silver Fox. In 1991, Irmo High had grown to the population of a small city and Lex-Rich Dist. 5 decided to break down and finally build a new high school. Set out in the middle of the forest near Kennerly road, this new school was pretty  sweet – brand new modern facilities and everything. With the school opening up in August 1992, they actually gave incoming seniors (i.e. me) a choice – stay at old Irmo or jump ship to the new school.  I did have early thoughts of trophy hunting in the new tiny inaugural class. I  thought of finally getting on the tennis team, being editor of the school paper, captaining the quiz team – my nerd dreams soared high. But ultimately none of my friends were zoned for Dutch Fork, so I stayed put.  I do have an affinity for their cross country and track teams though, since my brother Ben competed for them for the next 2 years, and I occasionally got a chance to come out and see his meets.

So I was definitely in to do this race, which is run completely on the Dutch Fork High and now Middle School campuses. Kimberly Taylor, one of our CRC members, was race director too. Plus a lot of the Dutch Fork kids run our Tour de Columbia races, so there were plenty of reasons to support the race, which goes to fund their program for special needs students.  One cool element was the inclusion of a team format. Anyone knows I love my relays and running teams, so I recruited Trophy, Code and Ted Hewitt to join  Columbia Running Club -Team Blue Shoes in their men’s four man division. You still got to compete for individual glory while doing the team event, which was nice. Critical for my precious TDC points too.

I showed up my customary hour early and there’s already a nice crowd. Kimberly had mentioned over 200 registered, which is phenomenal for a first year event. I knew she had directed a few races down in Charleston so she definitely knew what she was doing. I didn’t know how this course would work, though. I knew Ken Lowden had certified it, so at least the distance would be good. However, routing 3.1 miles entirely on campus meant running a lot of parking lot loops and turnarounds. Though the elevation map looked pretty flat, it didn’t look good for speed, especially when youre a less than agile sasquatch.

My original thought was that this would be a little of an age group trophy hunt – I was sure some of the kids would come out and take the overall but I figured Red Shoe and next week’s Long run might siphon off some of the ever present stealth superfit 35-39 soccer dads. I was actually going to take it easy, maybe even wear my go pro nerd vest to film the course. Then Brandenburg and the Pale Beast show up. Ruh Roh. No fooling around now. These guys were surely out for Blue Shoe blood. Plus there was the team element – I was going to have to pull some weight with Trophy falling into Blackjack mode and Code always hurting with something. At least I was confident Ted could pull off something sub 22.  None of the other usual 35-39 competition showed up, so I guess I was right about that. Jason Dimery and Kenneth “Son of Beast” Vowles were there to make sure I didnt have any greater aspirations than my age group.

We had a pretty big CRC contingent – Rocky Soderberg, Peter Mugglestone, Pete Poore, Alex Ponamarev, John Gasque, Stephanie “Stevie Dee” Dukes, Brie McGrievy, Both Brandenburgs, Bri Hartley, Marie Demetriades, Colleen “Evil eye” Vowles, new member Roy Shelley, Harry Strick, Leeds Barroll, Bob, Melinda and Reese Petruzzi, Jennifer Reeves, Tom Beattie, Joyce Welch, Sue Porter, Dimery, Code, Trophy , Ted and myself. 27 by my count. Really good to see everyone coming out to support a CRC member directed race.

The start was a total stampede since there were quite a few kids and the initial 100 meters is slightly downhill. A lap around the large student parking lot separates out the crowd pretty quickly. Kenneth and Dimery are clearly in the lead, with a couple of Dutch Fork kids, then Brandenburg and myself. I decide to latch on JB like white on rice, though we are both blazing it for this early in the race.  I figure this may work to my advantage though, since I must break the Beast’s spirit early on (a la Resurrection Run) to avoid his devastating kick (i.e. Shandon Turkey Trot). Sure enough, we come out of another parking lot loop and the Garmin spits out a 5:59. Yikes. The third loop actually involves a dip then climb, and I power up the go go gadget quads and draw even with JB.  Again no air for snarky comments but as soon as I pass him I can hear him using me as a human wind shield. A long slight downhill ensues and I’m trying hard to avoid my usual flopping around that ends up actually slowing me down.  We take a turn back up the hill, which I think is the long out and back section I saw on the map. Nope. As soon as I’m done powering up the hill, I can see Kenneth and Dimery on the other side of the fence coming right back up. Damn this is going to hurt. Mile 2 in 6 flat, thought I didnt look at the time. After a quick decline I’m right where I saw the other two a moment before, slogging up the longest incline on the course. I decide to go all in at this point. Knowing the finish is in the stadium, I’ve got all my chips on the course not taking any more uphills. So I burn it up the hill pretty much as hard as I can go, sucking all the wind in the greater Irmo area in the process. I’m about dead on the turnaround at the top but damned if the Beast is still on my tail. I must break him.

I fly down the hill trying to harness all my substantial gravity into speed, and trying not to fall on my ass in the process. Looks like I lost my bet because there’s yet another loop with a slight incline. I’m hating life pretty bad, but I still see Vowles trying to track me down as I exit the loop. Finally I can see we’re headed for the stadium. I take a few more steps into the pain cave. I finally pass Dutch Fork’s top girl Anna Johnson and another Dutch Fork guy (later identified as Mark Bradley)as we approach the stadium. I’m in a world of hurt but I know I have to be flirting with the sub 19. Its crushing but we have to do a full half lap on the track before the finish on the infield. Sure enough Bradley comes flying by me on the straightaway. I can see David He and a kid just ahead as I make the last turn. Already in the 18:50’s and no chance to get sub 19. I still burn whatever fumes I’ve got left and almost get David at the line, finishing in 19:08. 6th overall, 1st in AG. My Garmin had 3.25 miles and a 5:54 overall pace, which I assume is a combination of not running the 50 tangents on the course well and the watch not reading all the tight turns accurately.

Kenneth Vowles held off Dimery for the win 17:50 to 18:10. Painfully, he had to give back his 50 bucks to keep his “amateur status”. Mark Bradley, the kid who unceremoniously Blue Shoed me on the track, finished 3rd in 19:02. Turns out he’s an 800 meter specialist and 17 years old, so that helps soothe my pride injury.  On the women’s side, Anna Johnson took the win in 19:27, followed by Emily Letts and Bri Hartley, still just 13 years old (seems like she’s been racing forever).

Age group honor roll: David He outstepped me at the line (19:08.18 to 19:08.41) and took his brutally competitive age group of one in the 25-29. In my age group, Pale Beast got his sub 20 in 19:59.36 and took 2nd. Trophy trimmed 40 seconds off last week and finished in 21:06 (2nd for Team Blue Shoes) Code mailed in a 24 minute 5k to make sure we didnt get DQ’d.  In the 40-44, Eric Stamey got his sub 30 and just missed out on some bling, finishing 4th.  The 45-49 was won by JB in 19:36 with Ted Hewitt 3rd in 21:29 (3rd on Team Blue Shoes). Roy Shelley had a 23:46 and finished 6th in this tough group. Tom Beattie crushed the 50-54 in 24:20 for the win, easily beating Wes Spratt’s last time. John Gasque took the 55-59, with Bob Petruzzi 3rd and Paul Bates 4th. A CRC sweep in the 60-64 with Harry Strick, Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll taking the category. CRC also cleaned up the 65-69 with Alex Ponamarev and Peter Mugglestone and 70+ with Rocky Soderberg.

Among the women (Run Hard’s Jaguar timing separates gender completely) Marie Demetriades (Kimberly’s daughter) made mom proud with a 23:55 3rd in 15-18 AG, blasting a blue shoe style kick. Rachel Tracy (J-Reeves’ daughter) took 2nd in the 19-24. Brie McGrievy has blue shoe level trophy hunting skills and took 1st in the 35-39 AG.  Colleen Vowles may have been running miles 17-20 for the day and still took first in AG. Heather Alexander took 2nd. Stephanie “Stevie Dee” Dukes scored a huge PR with a 27:56. Barbara Brandenburg, Joyce Welch (also tacking on the 5k at the end of a long run) and Jennifer Reeves swept the 45-49. Sue Porter won the 55-59 with Melinda Petruzzi capturing yet more TDC points with a 3rd in her 3rd race of the month.

And let us not forget the teams! In the coed “Dutch Duo”, “Beauty and the Pale Beast” (Colleen and Ken)  are listed as winners, but I believe another team may have actually beat them out since they didnt get the award. Marie and Bri’s team “The Bad Abs” totally kicked some Abs and won the female “Fantastic Four”. Team Blue Shoes did pick up the male “Fantastic Four” over two teams from the Dutch Fork baseball team. Turns out even the gimp Code beat all these guys, so we didn’t need to try so hard after all. A successful trophy hunt ( valentine’s chocolates and Dick’s gift certificates) nonetheless!

Click to access be-a-fan-overall.pdf

Click to access be-a-fan-age.pdf

Click to access be-a-fan-team.pdf