Silver Fox 5k – Harbison State Forest – Irmo, SC


The Silver Fox 5k has been around about 6 years, starting out as a cross country/trail race in Saluda Shoals. This year they switched the venue to Harbison State Forest, with a completely unique course. Proceeds go to benefit Dutch Fork’s cross country teams.

I’ve done most of the Silver Fox races, partly because its fun to do some trail races for a change, and partly because of some sense of loyalty to Dutch Fork – they are CRC supporters and my brother ran on their CC team in the mid 90’s.

I heard about the switch to Harbison and immediately fear overtook my dark, Sasquatchian heart. Ms. Harbison and I have a very difficult relationship. Besides leaving me bloodied on training runs, Harbison’s Xterra half marathon  left me shirtless and delirious on a hot summer day back in 2012. I also flopped across the finish and collapsed on the grass back in 2011 in the Xterra 5k, looking like hooked fish on a dock.

Its also been well documented that I officially suck on trails. I couldn’t really tell you what Harbison forest looks like, since I have to spend all my time staring at where to put my giant flippers so that I don’t bust my ass. That doesn’t always work either. At least I’m not like the Pale Beast. That dude can’t set foot on a trail without courting major trauma. Kenneth followed in the family tradition last year by crashing out and having to go to urgent care. I seem to recall a bloodied Colleen pic somewhere too. These guys were not meant for off-roading.

I had zero confidence going into this race. The Springdale 5k made me realize how much an injury layoff can trash your fitness. So what better than to throw yourself into a trail race that has left you bloodied and hurt before. Sounds legit.

I got there my customary hour early and looks like mostly kids, though we had a decent CRC contingent. Plex was there to try and capture the win for us old folks. Harry Strick, Mike Nance, Tom Beattie, Arnold Floyd, Henry Holt, Rocky Soderberg, Pete Poore, Stephanie Dukes, Mario and Jennifer Tudor, Brigitte Smith, Breck Bowen and Dina Mauldin are some of the tour regulars. I don’t know many of the kids, but Adam Bernthal, Bri Hartley,  and Margaret O’Toole  are some familiar faces. And no Brandenburg! Things were looking up.

Again, I have no idea what the course will be like. Dan Hartley , the new Silver Fox RD, posted the route but I get lost instantly in Harbison. He assured me the course was well marked. I did see it included part of Spider Woman II, so I knew that was no picnic.

The start was the usual for any of the Harbison races – up a steady gravel road to another parking lot, then into the woods. Pretty heavy traffic in the early going. Michael Nance was just ahead and some 30 something dude blasted by me towards the front. Whatever, dude – have at it.  I think the first mile was on the Eagle trail and connector towards the Midlands mountain and Spider woman, but dont hold me to it. I’m no Rick Stroud or Dean Schuster. I was just trying to hold a decent pace and not wipe out. There was a bottleneck at one point where a low wooden barrier guarded the entrance road against the trail. I jumped over it like a boss and got mocked by some teens nearby. Do not taunt the Sasquatch in his natural habitat. They got left for dead. I hit the first mile in 7:30. Not blazing, but given my less than optimal trail agility, I’ll take it. Soon afterward I found myself in the midst of a bunch of teenage girls – I think the Steger twins from Dutch fork and a few others. All I knew is that I was second in this pack and some tiny girl in front of me was going to get flattened if she made one false move. She was motoring but was sucking some serious wind, and eventually started to slow as we hit some major hills. I’m assuming some of this was Spider Woman, but hell if I know. This poor girl was probably being traumatized by having some hairy beast breathing down her neck, but damned if she was going to give up her position. These cross country girls do not play. I finally saw an opening and broke into the woods like a rabid albino bear, high stepping over all kinds of branches and junk and still had to cut this 80 pound maniac off. Between the conga line, hills and bushwhacking my own trail, mile 2 came back in 8:03. Yikes, better pick up the pace. At least some of the course seemed vaguely familiar now as we headed back home. I will say Dan had every turn very well marked, with a bunch of volunteers covering the really tricky sections. Harbison has been notorious for misdirects so I’m glad this was covered. Mile 3 was mostly on my own, but I kept seeing Nance up ahead. I figured this must mean I’m doing great because Mike’s been hitting low 18’s most of the summer with the Team Utopia training. And I was slowly reeling him in. Especially when he hit Schuster hill, site of the epic duel in the woods from Make my Day earlier this year. But this time it was not to be. Somebody blew my stealth cover at the top of the hill and Nance kicked it in once we hit the flat tree-lined trail section afterward. Finally we hit the open field finish, with a short track like lap before hitting the chute. I rolled in at 23:39.

I thought I had placed pretty high, but it turns out all the kids were so far ahead I didn’t see them. Ended up  19th overall, though 5th if you only consider people able to legally drink a beer. And first in age group!  I thought I had masters wrapped up, but damned if Bob Daley didn’t show up and whip my tail. Bob crushed a sub 19 at Sweat it Out and foiled my masters points there too. Oh, and Mike ran the headlamp loop with the Harbison crew at 5:30 am, so he was over 9 miles in at the start. And,  “wasn’t trying that hard”. Damn you, Nance. And one more ego hit – the girl holding me off for a mile was 11 years old, and crying at the finish.

Plex took home the glory for the “old guys”,  beating Alex Chalgren and Zachary Freeman. Bri Hartley took home the glory for the girls, with some girl pretending to be Anna Jenkins winning 2nd. Mia Perry won third – she must have been in the group drafting in my wake in mile 2.

In the age groups, Nance and Mario Tudor went 1-2 in the 35-39. Bob Daley easily won the 45-49. Tom Beattie won the 50-54 by showing up. Pete Poore and Harry Strick claimed the 60-64. Arnold Floyd, Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg swept the 70+. Brie McGrivevy took the 40-44 but paid for it with a Harbison induced avulsion fracture. Sorry Brie, at least you gave Tom Beattie a scare. Brigitte Smith won the 65-69.

Click to access harbison-overall.pdf


Springdale at Sunrise 5k – Camden, SC – 8/8/15


The Springdale 5k is back again in its 7th year, this time held in the streets surrounding the Springdale racetrack in Camden, SC. I’ve missed a few Springdales here and there, since its held in the summer during prime vacation time. This year I was back from Orlando, having spent much of my life savings at Universal Studios and Legoland, so I was free to jump in this race.

I was actually part of the inaugural race back in 2009. Then it was held at sunset, and on the actual horsetrack. You could see the whole race unfold from the stands, and they followed the race with music, food and beer. Why they strayed from this amazing concept is beyond me, but I will say the original race was absolutely brutal. Ninety four degrees, and the entire course was ankle-length grass. The race was notable for one of the most epic blue shoe finishes of all time – a full-on headless chicken, lung-bursting surge to nip an unsuspecting Chad Long at the finish line. All of this to secure a blazing 23:40 something. I don’t even think I got an age group for it. Strictly running captured an 8 photo montage of the incident, each frame capturing a unique and seemingly progessively uglier race face. Sadly, these pics have been lost to history forever, though I was able to pull up the results from milesplit.

I think 2009 is my only time doing this race. All the other years I was either on vacation or recovering from major trauma. A blog check shows I did show up in 2011 to watch with a 6 pack of Yeungling  in my trunk. Always keeping it classy.

So this would be my first 5k since the Sweat it Out in early June. I had been training like a beast most of the spring, culminating in the PR 18:39 at the Blythewood 5k in April, and then all the wheels started coming off.  I got a nagging shin splint in my left shin due to my Hawaii toe and then my right foot decided it wanted to get in on the action and get some plantar fasciitis. Awesome. I went several weeks barely running at all. I did hit the pool like a beast and do some cycling and weights, but I only started back run training in the past couple of weeks. Serial vacations to IOP, New York and Orlando in July didnt help the comeback any either. Or my financial stability, but that is another matter.

All of this to say is that this was not going to be pretty. No long runs, no speed work, and minimal mileage basically all summer. I had no idea what to expect and no clue as how to pace. But I had to start back somewhere.

Surprisingly, Camden is only about 30 minutes from my house, so I got to the race in plenty of time. Not a huge crowd but a bunch of the CRC regulars were on hand, since this was a Tour race. Columbia had the 811 5k with $8.11 registration, so I’m sure that cut down on the turnout. Team Utopia teammate Jim Williams was on hand. Strictly brought out their elite squad with Jonathan Kinsey, Plexico, both Brandenburgs and Coach B himself. Jennifer Reeves, Parker Roof, Rocky Soderberg, Arnold Floyd, Tom Beattie, Henry Holt, Sue Porter, Brigitte Smith were some of the Tour veterans. Whitney Keen, Heather Costello, Kara Clyburn, Garrick Douglas, Andrew Lipps, Sharon Cole and Chad and Betsy Long were familiar faces from the Elgin/Lugoff/Camden contingent. Trophy showed up to watch and take over my photo duties, though I had already told him this would be a prime chance to maybe score a rare Blue Shoes victory for him. Past results suggest that I must narrowly cheat death and have major orthopedic trauma for him to have a chance, though. But, it seems he’s been slacker than me this summer.

I’d like to say I scouted out this course and developed a race strategy but I did absolutely nothing of the sort. I did briefly look at the course video and saw that it was all roads this year, though it was impossible to see elevation changes. I lined up second row behind the SR Red Storm in front of me and we were off. It felt weird to run fast again since I basically had been pulling 9-10 minute pace for most of July, just trying to avoid re-injury.  The front pack left me for dead immediately and I settled into a no-man’s land with Whitney up ahead and Garrick just behind me. The first mile, at the time, seemed pretty flat, though in actuality it was a gradual downhill. Since Brandenburg and Bedenbaugh were so far ahead I figured I was going insanely slow, though I was very pleased to get a 6:27 back for mile 1. This pace is ingrained in my brain ever since I tried to break 20 minutes for a year and a half.  And hey, this didn’t feel too bad, right? Let’s pick it up a bit. Garrick had pulled up beside me but I surged forward and ran by myself in mile 2. The first half of mile 2 stayed OK…the second half, not so much. Lungs and legs did not like the surge. I backed it down a bit. The relatively cool morning suddenly didn’t feel so cool anymore. I suddenly saw the 2 mile mark and got back another 6:27 on the Garmin. OK, so 20 minute flat pace. Just hold it here and maybe you can blue shoe a finish to get a 19 something. Um… wrong answer. Suddenly the course turns uphill in mile 3 and everything goes epically to crap in a hurry. I’m sucking wind and the legs turn to cinder blocks. I’m trying to power up the hill but its one of those long gradual ones and it’s just crushing my very soul. A half mile from the finish Garrick blows by me and I’ve got nothing to respond. Tank is pinned on “E”. The last bit is pretty much a blur. Still uphill, hanging on for dear life and begging for the finish line. Finally we hit the last turn and I can’t bear to look at my Garmin (a very ugly 6:55 positive split). I attempt a feeble kick to the finish with the clock already in the 20’s, desperate for the pain to end and almost as desperate not to get a 21. I call trophy “Blackjack” every time he gets slack and fades into the 21’s and it would be too much to bear to get blackjacked myself (especially with him photodocumenting the whole thing). Luckily I spare myself at least some shame and cross in 20:40.

Wow. I haven’t felt that bad in a 5k in a long, long time. There’s definitely a lot of engine work to be done, but hopefully it will come back quickly. Some had the course a little long, but mine was 3.13. I did take solace in winning the 40-44 age group, though its kind of a hollow victory when 49 year old JB, 52 year old Coach B and 45 year old Whitney all whip your tail in masters.

Jonathan Kinsey crushed the competition in this race, blazing a 16:26, with Plex capturing 2nd. Socastee CC runner Nicholas Lefever took 3rd. Among the women, Heather Costello endured a Blue shoe-esque finish by Whitney but still easily won. Sharon Cole took 2nd and Martie Gail McCallum 3rd.

Barbara Brandenburg took home 1st female masters followed by Colleen Reed and Sherry Blizzard. The male masters punks are listed above. In the age groups, Whitney’s son Robert won 2nd in the 11-14, while daughter Julia also won 2nd in the 15-19. Parker Roof got shamed an old man with a resting heart rate of 36 but still got 2nd in the 15-19 guys. Garrick took home the 30-34. Kara Clyburn won the 35-39. Chad Long got blue shoed again by some kid but managed 3rd in the 40-44. Wife Betsy scored 2nd in the women’s 40-44. J-Reeves scored a 3rd in the 45-49. In the 50-54, Tom Beattie claimed 2nd and Andrew Lipps 3rd. Jim Williams easily took the 55-59. Sue Porter was champ of the female 55-59. Brigitte Smith won the 65-69, while Arnold Floyd, Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg swept the 70+.