The Bunny Hop 5k is a relatively new race in the YMCA series, first held in 2013. For whatever reason, the stars aligned that year and somehow I took home the first male overall prize. I’d like to say I won the race, but as it turned out, Amy McDonaugh thoroughly chicked me and actually crossed the finish line first. Amy came rolling in to the finish looking all athletic and strong, to a huge ovation. The poor bystanders then had to see me completely headless chicken it , about ready to puke, in an effort to break 19. No cheers for the Sasquatch, but I got my 18:59. Beautiful. There was an award for first male overall, and I wasn’t about to turn down a hundred bucks, despite the shame.
With a female overall winner and an Albino Sasquatch male champ, you can be sure that fellow trophy hunters will take notice. And notice they did. The race grew significantly last year and exploded to 300+ in 2015. I didn’t get to defend my “title” in 2014 with the Palmetto 200 coinciding, but I think Justin Bishop came out and crushed the field for the win.
Speaking of defending titles, I certainly don’t get a chance to do that very often, but this was also Resurrection Run weekend. Resurrection was the site of the epic battle of whiteness last year, a brutal battle of the pigmentally challenged. I edged out the Pale Beast and basked in the afterglow of my first post-cliff victory. We won’t mention the fact there were like 40 people in the race and half of them walkers. A win is a win, baby.
But since I had missed a few YMCA races last year, and my Resurrection victory surely bringing in people that were actually fast, I opted for the Bunny Hop. It was definitely not a wise trophy hunting maneuver, and I was pretty sure Brandenburg was going to make me pay for it. However, perhaps I could make up for it with a double dip. The rebranded race Judicata, now the “WIL (USC women in law) to run” was going on at 10:30. With the Bunny Hop relatively nearby and 2 hours between start times, this would be a pretty easy one. I decided to make it a last second decision – I would wait to see how Bunny Hop went and then pull the trigger if I was up to it.
When I got to the Columbia YMCA that morning, I could tell this was the mother of all bad trophy hunting decisions. The place was crawling with blazing fast people. Right off the bat I saw Ashton, Striggles, Bishop, Jason Dimery, Angel, the Yerg, Michael Nance, Parker Roof, Shawanna, and Eric and Sarah Allers. It was like Cold Winter’s Day in April. I did a q short warmup with Jeff Godby, who I suddenly realized was now back in my age group with me aging up to 40. At least I didnt have to deal with Rob, Angel, OJ and Nance. When Trophy got there a little later with Jamey, I promptly informed him he would be good to place in the top 10 of the 35-39. I’m always a good friend like that. Lots of CRC/TeamUtopia/Palmetto/Strictly peeps on board – Ivanka and Eliere Tolan, Ashley Horton, Kana Rahman, Brittany Robbins, Carol Wallace, Israel, Coleen Strasburger, J-Lybrand, J-Reeves, Luci Velicu, Hrechko, Talkington, Cait Costello, Laurin Long, Will Brumbach, Joe Roof were just a few of the people I remember seeing at the start.
Let me clue you in to my finely tuned 5k strategy… run like hell until you want to puke. Yep, there is no saving up for the second race. Once the bib is pinned, it is on like Donkey Kong. And this course sets up nicely for a fast time. Basically an out and back course with 2 track-like loops at the end. About as flat as you can imagine in downtown Columbia, starting and ending at the Columbia YMCA. The loops are probably the most challenging, since you have to maneuver through the back of the pack on the second lap. For my agile physique, this is akin to plowing a speeding bus through a crowd without running over anybody.
I actually eschewed my usual grandiose practice of toeing the line to let people who were actually talented start in front. With the gun, we all took off WAY TOO FAST. With all the blazing people around, it was hard not to get caught up in the cattle stampede. The first quarter is pretty much flat, followed by a left turn with a very slight decline all the way to the loop area. People were totally getting it. I was trying to throw down hard, but damned if Jennifer Lybrand wasn’t killing me in the first half mile, Sarah Allers was breathing down my neck and Will Brumbach had firmly attached himself to my hip. Angel and Talkington were leaving me for dead. I was really confused by the pace – with all the people around I assumed I was going slower than usual. Maybe even 6:30?? We hit the first part of loop 1 near the mile marker, where I distinctly remember telling Parker Roof that he was going too fast in 2013. My, have times have changed. Anyway, mile 1 comes back in 6:08, so apparently either everyone is going sub 19 or there was a lot of coffee drinking this morning. The outer part of the loop has a couple of subtle inclines that make the wind suckage commence. Still a long way to go for that. I catch up to Angel and pass him, which means he’s either sick or not racing. Rounding the last corner of the loop I finally catch Talkington, who is still coming back from some time off. Dude decided to run like a 6 flat first mile, so I guess he was a little excited about racing again. Second lap is all about the juking and jiving. Walkers first then the back of the pack runners. The walkers are always tougher because they are prone to sudden movements and not paying attention, but luckily everyone is staying in their place. I assume Eric, Justin and Striggles blowing by them at 5 minute pace probably caught their attention earlier. I am able to find some good seams but the corners are a little tricky. I see MC Cox and Rob up ahead so I try to stay within their ballpark. Mile 2 is like 6:07 and I’m suddenly aware of the sub 19 possibility. I am hurting pretty bad but give me a time goal and some people to track down, and I will spelunk the pain cave to new depths. Suddenly I’ve caught up to Rob and MC and pass them, which is highly unusual. I haven’t beaten Rob in years and MC usually takes me down too. Once we leave the track loops and head back to the Y, I throw down as hard as I can. It’s a long way, and Yerger’s ghost is riding me the whole way. I ‘m also afraid Brumbach is going to come back and spank me like the Crit and the Wild Run. I turn the last corner and hope for the 18’s, though I realize my Garmin has beeped mile 3 pretty early. I see the clock turn over to 19:00 as I hit the final stretch. I’m on fumes, but I do a little headless chicken and hit the tape at 19:14. Dang. A good time for me but a big disappointment after the first 2 miles. My Garmin has 3.16, though course is certified. Looks like I’ll need to practice my Adrian Peterson moves a little better on lap 2 next year.
Awards were at 9:30, so I hung around to see if I got anything. The whole time I had decided to forget the double dip. Thanks to my new found old age, I was able to slip into third in the 40-44. I knew I’d lose to Eric Allers, but damned if Toby Selix hadn’t slipped in all stealth-like and took 2nd place. Oh well, this being a YMCA/Erin Roof race, swag was great as always with a Bunny Hop coffee travel mug. Sure beats another medal.
In the overall, Eric Ashton had some competition this time, but was able to beat out Striggles (2nd) and Justin (3rd) in 16 minutes flat. I would have liked to see those guys throw down, but I was in another zip code. Among the ladies, Shawanna White crushed the field and nearly took down Eric Allers in 18:06 for the win. I believe this was a post hip surgery PR for the “Peachrunner”. Well done. Shana! Caroline Peyton took 2nd in 18:20 with MC Cox taking third in 19:25.
Age group honor roll: Nine year old Madelyn Gomez, with dad Derek in tow, crushed a 26:26 to take first in the 8-10. Sophia Bilbao, running with dad Israel, won 2nd in the 11-13. Parker Roof is done with Sasquatch pacing and ran 18:11 to take the 14-16. Alex Robertson placed 3rd. Brittany Robbins (TUS) eked out a win in the 14-16 girls by like 5 minutes. TUS’ David Russell and Sr’s Jen Lybrand were the class of the 25-29. Jason Dimery rocked a sub 18 to win the 30-34. Ashley Sears and Katie rose went 1-2 in the ladies’ 30-34. In the 35-39 men, TUS’ Michael Nance and the Yerg took the top two spots, with 621 ninja Will Brumbach 3rd. Ivanka Tolan (TUS) and Lucia Velicu (Palmetto) won on the ladies side. In the 40-44 women, Shannon Iriel started her comeback from a long bout with plantar with a strong 20:35. Healthy Cap race director Shenequa Coles took 2nd. Randy Hrechko blue shoed J-Lybrand and the Trophy in the final stretch and won the 45-49. Barb “Blandenburg” (why couldn’t they have done that to Jeff) , Pam Inman (Palmetto) and Sandra Riccuito swept the 45-49 women. The 50-54 women were blazing, with Sarah Allers (Reckless) taking the win over Lisa King and Coleen Strasburger. Eliere Tolan (TUS) outpaced Joe Roof and Phil Togneri in the 50-54 men. Carol Wallace was once again the 55-59 champ, viciously outkicking pal Coleen. Sue Porter and Lisa Smarr (with bunny ears) placed 2nd and 3rd. Tommy Kahaly and Rick Gibbons just aged up and rocked the 55-59 men. Mike Compton and Pete Poore took 1st and 3rd in the 60-64. Ken Lowden threw down a 27:42 and took 2nd in the 65-69, with Ron Hagell 3rd. Patti Lowden won the ladies’ 65-69, and ageless Henry Holt took the 70+.
And as I strolled back to my car, the double dip temptation proved too much to bear. I was in.