Springdale at Sunrise 5k – Camden, SC -8/20/16


The Springdale 5k is a race held near the Springdale horse track in Camden, going to benefit the Kershaw County United Way. I first got interested in this race in its first year in 2009. At that time, it was called the Springdale at Sunset, since it was held at 7 pm, and was actually staged on the horse track itself. All I remember from that race is that it was 94 degrees at race time, and the grass was ankle length the whole way. I died a thousand deaths on that course that night, going out too fast and then almost walking in the last mile. I got into an epic pissing match with Chad Long, with him passing me 200 meters from the finish and then me blowing by him right before the tape. One of my deepest race photo regrets was not buying the whole 8 pic montage of that incident, complete with horrific race faces and a sweaty, bare bellied contortion at line, where I leaned at the tape like an Olympic 100 meter final. Strictly Running, if you have these in your vault somewhere, I will pay a premium for their recovery. I did get the “win” though, a meaningless 8th place over 2 minutes slower than my PR at the time.

2009: http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/55153/results/93778/raw#.V7oXt5grLIU

2010: for grins and giggles: http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/77626/results/126802/raw#.V7odmJgrLIU

But that was many years ago. Sadly, they’ve moved the race off the track and into the surrounding neighborhoods. It certainly has made for a more comfortable race, but they’ve taken away the post race party with beer and music they had in 2009.  I had missed the race for a few years before coming back in 2015, fresh off a summer plagued with injury and low mileage. As my melon headed grandiosity is wont to think, I went out last year like I was in the peak of fitness, only to suffer one of the most painful last miles of all time. I almost walked and ended up with a 20:40, my slowest time in years. To make things worse, Brandenburg was on hand to revel in my shame. See below:


A year later, having had a much more productive summer, I hoped to erase that miserable death march from my memory.



Course Map

The map, of course, doesn’t do the route justice. Basically you drop in elevation almost the entire first half, lulling you into a false sense of confidence. You then make that turn on Forest drive and then realize, oh yeah, this is a loop course and you’re going to have to climb all the way back. Don’t forget you’re in South Carolina in August. Fun times. None of it is super steep, just unrelenting and  when your legs and lungs are toast. Be forewarned.

I showed up on race day my usual hour early, but spent most of it avoiding a warm up in the heat. To be fair it wasn’t super hot , but the rain the night before rendered some sauna-like conditions. 75 degrees and 89 percent humidity per Garmin. Erin Roof and Eggplant Events, along with Start2Finish timing always do a good job with the set up and things were going smoothly. Sadly, I missed the elaborate packet pickup event they had the night before. I’m all for pre-race parties but I wasn’t making the hour round trip to  Camden for that. I was pretty impressed with the horseshoe trophies and post-race waffle station they were setting up.

I did a solo mile warmup and tried to scope out the competition.  Chandler Barrett’s sister from last weeks Press Box 5k points me out as “that guy who wrote the article about my brother”.  Lolz. I didn’t see any adult elites, though Parker Roof was on hand and a pack of teens I assume were Camden high cross country. The holy grail was probably off the table. In my range, there was only Wilson Harvey and Whitney Keen  I recognized. Since I was out of Columbia though, you never know which randoms might come out and steal your trophies. We would see. John Gasque, Rocky Soderberg, Pete Poore, Brigitte Smith were the CRC regulars on hand. Betsy and Chad Long, Kara Clyburn, Martie McCallum (taking pictures)  and Caroline and Julia Keen were representing for the Camden/Lugoff/Elgin contingent. Kerry Stubbs was there for RWB.


In case you had any wonder why I call myself a Sasquatch – photo courtesy of Martie McCallum

Starting horn goes off and we get released on the roller coaster downhill of the first mile. Parker and the Camden kids sprint out ahead of me. As we plunge down the hill, a guy with grey hair and a sleeveless tech shirt pulls alongside of me. I always worry about the superfit soccer dad types but this guy may be another trophy stealer, the aging elite. Aging elites ran like 15 minute 5ks when they were younger but still throw down 19’s in their 50’s and 60’s and take my precious masters points. Dave Geer pulled this trick on me at the Richland RUNS 10k in 2014 – I try to hang with an unassuming 60 year old guy , and he ends up spanking me in 37 minutes and sets at a state age group record. That was before I knew who he was. The guy this morning seems pretty fit but he drifts back at about the half mile mark. As we near the mile mark, another guy pulls up alongside the Albino Sasquatch freight train, who I recognize as leading the high school guys on their warm up run. I tell him how nice it is to have all this downhill, but how that trip back isn’t going to be so much fun. I was just running my mouth but I think it ended up coming out as some kind of psychological warfare. Either way, he drops back just after we pass the mile mark in a brisk 6:06.  Most of the downhill has faded away by this point but at least its flat on 5 Bridge Rd and Brook Dr .

At 1.69 miles is the turn on to Forest Drive and you’d better be ready. Nothing but a gradual incline all the way back. I know its coming, but it still sucks. The pace feels a lot slower as we start slogging up the hill – again, not steep but gradual and unrelenting. Since I spend much of my time suffering on the mountainous entrance road to Sesqui park, I can feel the hill engine kick into gear. Mile 2 passes in 6:18, so still pretty good. I know mile 3 is all uphill. A couple of the kids and some fit-looking 20 something guy have paid the price for their sub 6 first mile as the incline and the warm blanket humidity start to take their toll. I pass these guys and plow ahead, arms churning and trying to lift those legs. By 2.5 miles in I’m starting to hurt pretty bad myself. I keep having hallucinations that the finish is just around the next turn , but I keep getting disappointed until I start checking my watch to prevent any further mirages. I am pretty much toast at this point until I realize the runner up ahead is Parker Roof, and he’s looking back. This gives me a jolt of adrenaline and I try to surge ahead. I start making up some ground but just as I make some headway, the real finish appears. I figure I’m running third and definitely first guy that can legally buy a beer, because there were just high school kids at the front. I see the clock turn over to 19 from way out and I sprint to the finish in 19:28 and change, flopping on the gravel over the line. I just can’t coast on in, apparently. Erin makes sure to capture my gravel road love making in all its ugliness.


Dr. Pasty Thighs


I’m so sure I got third I don’t bother to check the results until Erin tells me Parker took 3rd and was feeling pukish at the finish. I guess turning around and seeing my third mile kick is scary enough to turn the stomach. Turns out there were 2 kids up ahead and I actually took 4th . But hey, I’ve got 25 years on all these guys, so I was pretty jacked. 1:12 faster than last years debacle and first masters – pretty sweet. Good thing Springdale regulars Brandenburg and Bedenbaugh stayed home!

In the overall, Garrett Lawson and Samuel Messinides took the top 2 spots with Parker 3rd. Sharon Cole took yet another win among the women, with Whitney and Caroline’s daughter Julia placing 2nd. Laura Holt placed 3rd. In masters, Kara Clyburn took 2nd without any idea what masters is, since she just turned 40. I told her its awesome to be old. Emily Skufka and Heather hawn placed 1st and 3rd. Whitney Keen took 2nd masters among the men.

Age group honor roll: Wilson Harvey set out to break 20 and did just that with a 19:53 and a 25-29 win. Garrick Douglas placed 1st in the 30-34, with Melinda Kurhan 3rd. Chad Long finally recovered from the 2009 showdown and took 1st in the 40-44. Caroline Keen won the 40-44 women in a very good day for team Keen. My med school classmate Michael Nienhuis won the 45-49 with Mark Chickering 2nd. Joe Roof crushed the 50-54 by 6 minutes.  John Gasque took 2nd in the 55-59, with Pete Poore taking the 60-64. Brigitte Smith continued her domination of the 65-69, while Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg placed 1st and 3rd in the 70+. Great turnout for this race and a big enthusiastic presence by Camden High – nice job to Erin Roof for continuing her awesome race directing with Eggplant.






Philip’s Nighttime 5k – Lake Carolina – Columbia, SC -8/13/16



I’ll admit, this was a complete, unabashed trophy hunt. After suffering a world of hurt at the Press Box 5k, I came home and crashed for a couple of hours. Like zonked out, totally asleep. I woke up and felt a lot better, and then I remembered there was a second Tour de Columbia race that night. My insider sources told me there was going to be a meager turnout, which I expected with the Press Box and 811 races in the morning. I was fully expecting to be doing something that evening, but it turns out my social director let me know there was nothing on the schedule. I tried to resist my addiction all afternoon, but eventually I succumbed to the urge to double dip at the Philip’s Nighttime 5k. This was a race at 7 pm , at Lake Carolina, only about 15 minutes from my house. I was in.

Surpisingly, these delayed double dips are actually more tricky than the more typical morning races in rapid succession. Almost 12 hours is plenty of time to get tight and sore, and to lose all motivation to race. But I had studied under the tutelage of the great double dippers before me, like John Gasque, Pete Poore and William Schmitz, and I was now a total professional. My PhD thesis was the 2013 March triple dip, 3 5ks in less than 3 hours, with a total spanking of Trophy McGaha in the final race. Such a beautiful thing.



I showed up super early to Phillip’s and there were only a handful of people there, none of which I knew. Shannon, Jeff, George and Susannah were there for Jackrabbit Timing. They confirmed only about 20 people registered. Bad for the race, good for the trophies. I have zero shame when it comes to shooting for the holy grail, the overall victory. Plus, Lake Carolina was the scene of one of my few wins, a 2013 New Years day 5k put on by Velocity Distance Project, a one-and-done race with very little evidence of my victory against like 30 other people. I did a solo warmup of about a mile which was pretty miserable. It was just like Press Box only about 15 degrees hotter. To boot, Shannon informed me of the course, which I recognized as the Harborside Lights 5k route. This hilly monster produces slow times even in December.

But maybe I could mail it in. Jonathan Kirkwood showed up, though, and this made me a little scared. True, I knew Jonathan hasn’t broken 20 minutes, but I was weakened and he had put up a good fight at Hot Summer’s Night. Plus, he’s like 60 pounds lighter than me. Damn, I was going to have to try.

There was a bit of a delay in the start, but apparently it was for the RD to assure everything was in place before they got started. I wasn’t complaining, figuring every minute meant a little but cooler. Probably 90 degrees at the start, high humidity. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but we seemed to be starting at a random point in Lake Carolina’s Town Center, away from the Harborside start line. Only about 20 people at the start. Melinda and Reese Petruzzi were also double dipping. Rocky, Jonathan and Katharina Vorhauer were the only other people I recognized. There were a couple of other fit guys that concerned me, but I think both had headphones, which I rarely see with runners under 7 minute pace.

With the start, Jonathan takes off like a beast and I am caught by surprise. It’s not 100 meters in and I’m already running faster than I had planned. The lead cop car pauses at the middle of the divided lake carolina drive entrance road, and Jonathan turns left into the oncoming traffic. Holy crap. I’m hugging the right side of the lane as traffic comes to a momentary standstill. Jonathan starts to veer off to the left at the traffic circle so I yell at him to come back to the course. He responds by jumping right in front of an SUV, scaring me to death. Dude means business. The first mile is almost all downhill through Harborside. Kirkwood is crushing it downhill, like a springy gazelle behind a lumbering grizzly. This grizzly is trying to rein it in a bit because a) I’m not sure how much is in the tank after Press Box and b) the remainder of the course is an unrelenting hell. Ok , I may be exaggerating a bit, but you have to climb right back out of Harborside and then scale a miserable out and back mountain loop.

We hit the bottom of the Harborside loop at the lake and I’m sitting about 10 meters back. We make the turn and the hill going back up hits like a ton of bricks. Mile 1 in 6:23, though it felt faster. Jonathan is still a little bit ahead and I briefly consider the thought of letting him go. It would be nice to take it easy, Jonathan would get the win and everything would be great, right? WHO AM I KIDDING? Yeah, I would probably blue shoe my mom if it meant getting first place. Less than half way up the hill I’ve made up the gap and surge to the front. Oh God – I’m on my own now, hopefully. Just don’t blow yourself up. I’m hurting by the time we finally get back onto Lake Carolina Drive and mercifully there’s an immediate plunge downhill (which I know I’ll get the privilege of climbing back up on the way back).  I hit the bottom of the valley and then here comes the pain. A half mile straight up. The first part seems OK but pretty soon the 93 degree heat starts taking its toll. By the time I near the turnaround it feels like I’m barely moving and sucking some serious wind. Split is 6:43, slowest 5k mile in a long time. I’ll take it considering the double dip and the conditions, though. I’m not sure where Kirkwood is, but I’m sure he’s lurking not too far behind.

Just after the mile 2 mark is the plunge back down the half mile hill. Legs are toast at this point. Just flopping down the hill as hard as I can go. One last steep hill to go. I’ve got nothing left, but seeing the Town Center sign up ahead surges the adrenaline. Rounding the last turn I can make out the clock and I’m shocked to see it still in the 18’s. I can’t hear anything behind me but I make sure to sprint it out to make sure. I cross in 19:15, 1st overall! Garmin shows a super short course at 2.97, which makes sense since we got about a couple hundred meters head start from where we were supposed to begin.


OK, so winning a 21 person race probably isn’t something to brag about, but crossing that finish line first never gets old. Second holy grail of the year! Nice lamp as the trophy too.

In the overall, Kirkwood easily got 2nd in 20:10, followed by Stephen Barlow. Sonya Sumpter-Green won the women’s race followed by Carrie Miller and Sierra Sumpter. Rocky Soderberg and Melinda Petruzzi also scored some trophies, placing 3rd male masters and 1st female masters respectively.  In the age groups, Reese Petruzzi won 2nd and Jeremy Vorhauer 3rd in the 0-14 with Jacqueline Vorhauer 2nd among the girls. Katharina Vorhauer won the 35-39.

Click to access OverallResults.pdf

Click to access ResultsByAgeDivision.pdf






Race to the Press Box 5k – Lugoff, SC – 8/12/16


The Able Club Race to the Press Box is now in its 3rd year, directed by runner and softball mom extraordinaire Amanda Holland and going to benefit Lugoff-Elgin’s Dorton/Evans Scholarship fund. I did the race 2 years ago when it was in May. Then I gave Lady McGaha and Whitney Keen a beatdown after an early challenge, but got smoked by Bedenbaugh and Heather Costello. Heather ended up winning the whole thing.

Last year the race coincided with a couple of other events, so I ended up missing it. To avoid conflict this year,  Amanda moved the race to the current date in August. I am a sucker for small town races – always good for a change of scenery, and of course the smaller crowds amp up the trophy opportunities.

Speaking of amped up, I was pretty jacked about last week’s Hot Summer Night – a 19:15 on a brutally hot night and actually a 2016 PR. Code Brown was so demoralized he had to phone in a 22 minute effort after the Sasquatch pulled away. Even though I knew the Press Box has a longish course (though certified), its rural site and competition with the ridiculously cheap 811 5k sent my trophy sense a-tingling.

So what do I do to prepare? Everything you shouldn’t.  I got home late from work on Friday and did a brisk, hilly 4 miler in the 95 degree heat. Came home in a dehydrated sweaty mess and then left for the Fireflies game less than an hour later. Four bud lights, a crap-ton of really bad ballpark food and a long game with fireworks meant I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight. My 1995 self would scoff at this “night out” but my 41 year old self knew this would not be pretty in the morning.

And oh was I right.  Alarm rang and it felt like I had passed out in the Sahara desert.  All cottonmouthed and the stomach was none too happy. Apparently draining a gallon of sweat out and then replacing it with watery American macrobrew is not a recipe for good hydration. In addition to feeling sleepy-tired , I was double fisting Gatorade and coffee on the way to my morning date with the Lugoff-Elgin stadium restroom.

Luckily, Lugoff is only about 20 minutes from my house, actually closer than a lot of Columbia races. I was still running late though, as my stomach waged an unholy war against the Single A league ballpark soft tacos. Dear God make it stop. I finally emerged sweaty and victorious, but I had less than 15 minutes until race time, so I did a half lap on the track and a few stretches before they called us to the start line. My trophy hopes were dashed immediately with the presence of Columbia’s running power couple, OJ Striggles and Shawanna White. Plus, my nemesis Drew Williams was on hand to probably give me the beat down too. Robbie McLendon, Betsy Long, Melinda and Reese Petruzzi, John Gasque, Pete Poore, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Andrew Lipps, Heather Costello, Brigitte Smith, Caprice Poore and the Robertsons were some familiar faces.


After having high hopes the past week, my race strategy morphed into just surviving by this point. In addition to the tenuous state of my belly, I was facing about 80 degree heat with high humidity. Plus, I knew the course to be slightly uphill most of the second half. Let’s not forget the zero warmup. This was going to be ugly.

Sure enough, the gun goes off and there’s no denying, everything feels like crap. Shawanna and OJ separate out right away with some teenager latching on. Drew and Heather are the next ones back, followed by a few teens and finally me. First mile is a good one for a fast start , since it’s a gradual downhill where you can go hard and not have to brake. Without the warmup, my legs are still ridiculously tight and everything feels sluggish. My morning routine was so chaotic that I forgot my sunglasses, so of course now I’m completely blinded running right into the sun. Drew is starting to pull away but there’s not much I can do.  After replaying this Debbie Downer stuff in my head for a while, I realize we are nearing the mile marker as the course starts to level out. I am sure it’s going to be close to 7 minute pace when my Garmin suddenly spits out a 6:10. WTH?I’m totally confused but I know it’s legit as I know the course. Williams and maybe Costello must have gone sub 6.

The downhill mile must have been good for my system since I think the Bud Light toxins got flushed out and the legs finally start moving again. This is good, because the course is done with its fun and games and is about to get real Janet Jackson nasty in a second. Somehow I manage to pass Heather early in mile 2 and do a few short turns before we hit a long straight hill (I think Critzer dr if I’m reading the map correctly). Suprisingly, I can see Shawanna and OJ up ahead with the lead police car, so OJ is clearly just pacing with her and Shawanna is probably mailing it in too. The teenager has fallen back quite a bit near Drew. We’ve already done some climbing, so I seem to remember that most of the rest of the elevation gain is on this hill, with mostly flat thereafter (editor’s note: this is dead wrong by my garmin data, all slow uphill to the finish). I almost caught Coach B on the hill in 2014 until he had enough of some pasty Sasquatch trying to steal his thunder.

I decide to push most of my metaphorical chips in the table at this point, figuring that the hills have always been my friend. I power up all of Mt. Critzer as best I can, arms pumping and fighting the morning sun.  By the time I reach the top I’ve reeled in Drew pretty close, with the kid not too far in front of him. Mile 2 was right near the summit, 6:25 split. By this time the heat has really built up and I am definitely starting to hurt, my only solace being that these guys went out way faster than me and may be dying more. I finally catch Drew after taking a painfully long time to close the gap. I’m pretty sure he could see my giant shadow lurking behind him. The kid had no idea what was going on because all of a sudden he jumps back in apparent fright when he feels a rabid bear barreling down on him. He looks pretty fit, so I can only think he’s toast for making the very bad decision to try and hang with Shawanna and OJ.  Dude, I could have told you that. After passing him I start to recognize the area near the stadium so I give it all I’ve got…which is pretty much nothing at this point. The engine is overheated and I am dying a slow death. I finally hit the track for the painful half lap to the finish. I usually love the track, but it feels like an oven out in the sun. Up ahead I can make out the red numbers and its getting close to 20. Damn, I forgot this course was a little long (3.16-3.20 by informal survey). I launch into full headless chicken mode, form going completely to hell. I slap my Garmin just as I hit the mat – 19:59.9. YES. I knew Strictly’s timing system would round it up to 20 flat, but at least I could rest assured that ugly display was not all for naught (Ashley from SR also verified a 19:59 and change by the official time).  Mark Robertson captured the horrific scene on video and Nicole captured a race face for the ages:



In the overall, Shawanna took the win in 19:10 with OJ a step behind.  Easy money for both. Sasquatch and the kid (Chandler Barrett)  finished the podium for the guys while Heather Costello and Sharon Cole placed 2nd and 3rd for the women.


Age group honor roll (awards were rubber footballs,  really cool) : Amanda’s daughter Sophie won the women’s 15-24. Heather Costello and Betsy Long won the women’s 35-44 , while myself and Drew went 1-2 among the men.  Andrew Lipps placed 3rd in the 45-54, with Sharon Cole winning among the women.  The 55-64 was a CRC sweep with Robbie McClendon, John Gasque and Pete Poore. Melinda Petruzzi won the women’s 55-64. Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg won 1st and 3rd in the 65-98 men, with Brigitte Smith claiming the women’s top spot.



Hot Summer’s Night 5k – Columbia, SC – Shandon- 8/6/2016


Hot Summer’s Night is one of the oldest races in Columbia, run continuously since my senior year in high school (1993), and is usually the most competitive race of the summer. It’s a companion race to the younger Cold Winter’s Day and put on by Strictly Running, so it’s always high quality.

But…I first ran this race in 2009, and I think I swore I’d never do it again. Not anything against the race organization, it’s just that this race is very, very aptly named. Early August is usually in the deepest depths of the Dante’s inferno we call Columbia in the summertime. This race starts at 7 pm, which usually means it hasn’t cooled down past 90. I was oblivious to these obvious facts in my first attempt, and even brought my whole family out to watch me. My then 4 and 6 year old did the kids run around the Hand Middle School cinder track and loved it. Me, not so much. I went out like a bat out of hell, not having any idea what heat can do to your race times. I was pretty much delirious at the finish – I was walking around moaning and tossing off my shoes, pouring water over myself. Like most of my race performances, it wasn’t pretty. I did manage a 21:36, which was a decent time for me then, but I about donated lunch and my consciousness in the process. I didn’t know hardly anyone at the time, but I see from the results all the beasts were there back then too. And of course Micah beat me by a second. https://results.active.com/events/hot-summer-night-5k–3/5k    Garmin (with post-race delirium included) : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/40235793


With the little munchkins (now almost 11 and 13)


Of course, the suffering fades with time, and inevitably I did the next couple of HSN’s.  Although I was getting much faster at other, non-nuclear-hot races, my HSN course record clocked in at just a shade under 20 minutes (19:56 in 2011). The years since have been interrupted by my family’s yearly week at Folly Beach, so either I wasn’t there or had just returned that day from a week of working out with 12 ounce bottles. The only year we didn’t do Folly was in 2013, where I decided to become an orthopedic trauma case instead.

I thought I might use vacation as an excuse this year, but sadly checkout was 10 am at our rental condo. I was back in Columbia by 1 and even got a nice nap in too. Time to man up. I’ve spent this whole summer ( including at Folly) torturing myself in the oven of late summer afternoons, so hopefully this would bode better than 2009. Last week’s Race for the Case (19:33) was decent, though it did involve getting a beatdown by Drew , wresting the holy grail overall win from my clutches. Damn you, Mr. Williams. Folly training included a Sunday run with the Tiny Terror and the OnShore recreation group – they have a great scenic route and even have beer at the finish. Highly recommend.

I carpooled with the Code in my beat up 2005 honda pilot, mostly to save his sports car/sex machine from what would assuredly be a tidal wave of sweat on the ride home. Beasts from near and far were at this one. I’m not there more than a few minutes before Brandenburg comes rolling up, presumably coming out of his tri season to kick my ass. Luckily, he was just there to work the race, along with most of the other Strictly team peeps (Erin Suttman, Jen K, Jason Dimery, Mike Hedgecock, Jonathan Kinsey, Barb, Linn, Erin Miller and RD Mark Bedenbaugh).  Shawanna and OJ were there on their second race of the day, having suffered the misery (and both winning) of the Little Mountain 5k in the morning. Angel showed up for yet another age group showdown. Randy was back at it after a rough couple of weeks. I was parked next to the Yerg, who has a Blue Shoes voodoo doll ever since my surprise Stomp the Swamp victory last year. TUS was well represented with Kana Rahman, Colleen Vowles with son Danny, Justin “Gary Johnson 2016” Bishop, Roy Shelley, Sara Bonner, Greta Dobe, Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Stephanie “Stevie D” Dukes, Michael Nance, Sheila Bolin, Bruce Edmonds, and Mike Compton. Joyce wasn’t racing but brought her Team Utopia Youth group, a bunch of pre-teens that can flirt with a sub 20 (Connor Forche, Tyler Miles, Camden Forche, Wyatt Wilson, Trapp Bryan, Danny Vowles, Wesley Bumgarne, Ethan Kurtz). Eddie Trackstar,  ex Dutch Fork/current Clemson runner Roland Hakes, Greenville stud Brett Morley and ageless beast Eric Ashton ramped up the elite factor. The OG Robbie McLendon was on hand for race number 2 of the day as well. RU Running brought out Albert Anderson and Gregory Jones, Sr.  I finally saw Howie Phan again after he blew by me at mile 10 in Boston. Good to see Billy Tisdale making a long awaited return after racing mostly in Sumter the past year. Shirley Smith, Ron Hagell, Melinda and Reese Petruzzi, Beau Long, Larry Bates, Ken Bolin, all the McGrievys (Brie, Matt, Sabine and Quentin), Arnold Floyd, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Lynn Grimes, Brigitte Smith, the Weavers (Jessica, Rich and Susan), Kerry Stubbs, Johnathan Kirkwood and Hou Yin Chang were some other familiar faces. Sarah and Eric Allers were on hand to spectate.

After a mile or so warmup, there was no mistaking – this was going to be rough. Totally sweat soaked in 10 minutes. Garmin read it as 91 degrees, 63 percent humidity and a heat index of 105. Yikes. I knew this course pretty well – just a loop of rectangles in the mostly flat Shandon area. Last week’s Race for the Case was basically a preview, using an almost identical route. I figure definitely masters and probably age grouping are not in the cards, so I would try to run my own race.

Liz Locke started us and the pace was insanely fast at the start with all the competition. I’m full of fear with this level of heat but I also don’t want to start too slow like last weekend. Something about 6:20 was my goal.  Joyce’s kids are out in front of me in the early going, so my ego is getting bruised right away. I manage to pull ahead of them after the first loop near Hand and focus on pacing behind Angel. Legs feel surprisingly fresh, coming after a rest day on Friday but also some serious stairclimbing packing up from the condo in Folly. We hit mile 1 right at 6:22 though it felt faster. I keep wondering “where the hell is the Code?”, but in my mind he’s lurking right behind me like a pale, hairy ghost. Mile 2 is always tough for me on this course. You’re still going away from the start and there’s a nasty little incline before the turnaround at Prospect St. At some point Angel falls back suddenly along with Johnathan Kirkwood. The heat is starting to take its toll. I’m definitely sucking wind but I get a major adrenaline jolt seeing the field start to reel back towards me.  Mile 2 comes back in 6:29, which kills me since I thought I was speeding up. I have a vague memory of them giving out mardi gras beads at this point, which I decide against at the last minute. I thought I might have to flash my manboobs or something.With a mile to go I have that rare sense that I have a fair amount left in the tank. Time to push in all the chips if I want to have a glimmer of hope for bling in this one. Ramping up the pace, I pass a bunch of people on the backstretch on Wilmot. Somehow I’m closing in on Mike Nance, which absolutely means something is not right with him (his PR is right around 18 flat). I see Yerg up ahead too, though he seems to be moving at his usual pace. I pass Nance on the last little mini loop before the final stretch on Duncan and run like hell. My early kick is definitely catching up to me by the time I hit Duncan, the taste of death and lungs are at the back of my throat. BUT I MUST HAVE MY TROPHY. Barreling down Duncan I can see the finish line in the distance, with the red numbers providing a cocaine-like jolt through my system.  But wait a second, some joker is not taking too kindly to being Sasquatched. I can hear his footsteps and breathing like a rabid grizzly bear tracking me down. Hells to the no. I had just passed a couple of aging superfit dad types in the last bit, so one of these suburban gladiators was probably trying to rob me of my glory. I fall into one of my finishing teeth-gritting, fist-pumping, head-flopping maniac kicks. Women and children go scattering as they avert their eyes from one of the ugliest scenes in Shandon that night. Up ahead the red numbers flip over to 19 and I blast to the line at 1000 percent effort, flopping like a dead fish on the pavement. 19:16.


I make it to my feet after about 30 seconds and then have to sit on the curb for a second to fight the urge to puke or die. But hey, its my best time in months under absolutely horrible conditions, so I will take it. I’m thrilled to look at the results and see that, inexplicably, I took 1st in age group (though 40 yo Striggles took 1st masters and was obviously ahead of me). Sure enough, 40 year old Collin Webster finished a step behind me in 2nd at 19:18. I guess I can thank him for the many ugly finish photos on facebook this morning.

In the overall, Brett Morley took the win over Roland Hakes 15:35 – 16:05, with OJ Striggles third. Shawanna White was the ladies’ champion in 18:39 to complete her double dip. Emily Letts and Janay Chisholm finished 2nd and 3rd. In masters, Colleen Vowles took the women’s win, with OJ winning among the men. Grandmasters had Alsena Edwards and Gregory Jones, Sr. as champions.

Age group honor roll: Sabine McGrievy took 3rd in the girls 2-10. Connor Forsche won the boy’s 2-10 with Tyler Miles 3rd. Mike’s son Myles Hedgecock won 2nd in the 11-14. Kenneth Vowles placed third in the 15-17. Eddie placed 2nd in the 20-24 men with new TUS member Bruce Edmonds taking 3rd. Jessica Weaver won 3rd in the women’s 20-24. Sean Foerster placed 3rd in the 30-34. Justin and the Yerg took the top 2 in the 35-39 men, while Sara Bonner won among the women. Kana Rahman won the 40-44 women. Tracy Tisdale-Williams was champion of the 45-49 women. Eric Ashton, Randy Hrechko and Johnathan Kirkwood took the 45-49 men.  Howie Phan, Mario Alvarez and Ken Bolin swept a highly competitive 50-54. Greta Dobe was 3rd among the women. Melinda Petruzzi won the women’s 55-59, while Billy Tisdale and Larry Bates went 1-2 among the men. Robbie OG McClendon and Mike Compton took the top 2 in the 60-64 men, while Lynn Gries was the women’s champion. Greenvilee’s David Spark ran an amazing 21:21 at age 67 to take the 65-69, with Albert Anderson and Rich Weaver taking 2nd and 3rd. Catherine Lempesis and Brigitte Smith were the 65-69 women’s winners. Arnold Floyd, Ron Hagell and Rocky Soderberg swept the 70-74 men, while Henry Holt continues to churn out sub 30’s at age 80 for the 75+ win.