Sleigh Bell Trot 5k – Saluda Shoals Park – Irmo,SC -11/22/16


The Sleigh Bell Trot is a 5k at Saluda Shoals Park that serves to kick off their “Holiday Light at the River” Christmas lights event. I don’t know exactly how long the race has been in existence, but at least since 2009, my first year doing it. The race has exploded in popularity since then, which has been great for the park, but has created some growing pains. Throw 700+ people into a confined space in the dark, and there will probably be problems. Fortunately, they have now divided up the “stroll” (all walkers) and the “trot” (timed 5k) into separate nights, which was huge for alleviating congestion. Start time has traditionally been 7:00 on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. This year promised to be even better , with a new, less curvy course making use of the new entrance and 1.5 miles of paved trail.

With cub scout camping cramping my trophy hunting plans over last weekend, I almost forgot about this race, which I had signed up for weeks ago. I’ve never run particularly fast times at Sleigh Bell, largely a product of having to maneuver my less than agile frame over all the cul-de-sacs and turns of the park . Despite the huge crowds, this race actually is a bit of a trophy hunt in disguise. Very bottom heavy, virtually no elites. The only bummer is its been a popular race for Irmo/Dutch Fork cross country kids, stealing my precious overall Tour de Columbia points.

Did someone say kids? I was feeling all lazy on Tuesday afternoon, thinking of phoning it in for some age group/masters points, when all of a sudden I remember Joyce’s warning from the Lexington 5k. Ten year old Connor Forche was out to seek his revenge at this race. I go from the pleasant excitement of a cool holiday event to the gut wrenching anxiety of getting a beatdown from a fifth grader. Sure enough, I later received these screencaps from the puppetmaster herself:


Oh, dear God.

Luckily by this time I had already managed to show up over 2 hours early and run the entire point-to-point course forwards and back. Why? Because I my running nerdery knows no bounds. This was going to be way nicer than years past. Mostly flat, except for a decent hill a half mile in near the red dirt monster from Climb the Clay. Basically 1.5 miles into the park before doing a lap of the interior loop, except for one little cul-de-sac from the old course. Much faster than the former route for sure.

One downside of doing all this was being ready and super warmed up ONE HOUR before race time.  I managed to then get majorly chilled and ended up retreating to my heated car for most of my pre-race prep, essentially wasting all that warm-up. I did jump out of the car about 20 minutes out and do a bunch of strides to stop shivering. It was difficult to see my competition in the darkness. I didn’t see any obvious 40-somethings but Zach Demoya,  Wilson Harvey, Parker Roof and a slew of other XC kids were sure to keep me from having any holy grail ideas. It was cool to see longtime CRC member Birgit Spann with husband Holger back in the States on vacation. They’ve been in Germany for the last 2 years. Pete Poore, Roy Shelley, Devon Shirley, Leeds Barroll, Shelley Hinson, Jim Selbee, and Rocky Soderberg were on hand. Joyce’s Team Utopia Youth were out in force, including Connor, raising the fear of at least one of them giving me a beat down.As Joyce would say, I was skeered.


The gun goes off and I notice one thing right away. The high powered headlamp I always bring to this race sure works a lot better on my head, AND NOT ON THE PASSENGER SEAT OF MY CAR  where it happens to be at that moment. Nice job, hero. There are a fair amount of Christmas lights out there, but it is still pretty dark. Fortunately I know the 1.5 mile entrance road is all smooth with no speed bumps. Time to go not so gently into that good night.  I usually like to lay off the first mile, but if I’ve got a pack of grade schoolers gunning for me, I’d better go get it. Having done a couple hundred 5ks in the last 7 years, I’ve basically come to the conclusion that the best strategy is just to really suffer as long as you can stand it. I spend the whole first mile like some evil nursery rhyme villain, chasing children through the dark forest. None of them are Forche, but plenty of coach Joyce’s black and gold minions. The hill a half mile in helps spread out the field some and gives me a little room, the top at 0.75 and the mile at the bottom on the other side, 6:15.

This is pretty much perfect pace for me, and I feel surprisingly good. My goal is to hold this through the 2 mile and see what the blue shoes can get me. Finally, I see a familiar small shadow in the slight rise before entering the interior loop of the park. I do a quick check as I pass him, and I’m pretty sure its Connor. He looked up as I slid by with all the finesse of a stampeding elephant, so I know he’s locked in to the Sasquatch. A few meters ahead I also catch whom I think is his dad, so now I’ve got the whole freakishly fast clan chasing me down. Blasting into the interior loop, the suffering has kicked up a notch, but I’m holding steady. I hear what I think is the cul-de-sac with the 2 mile mark (which was playing loud music and disco lights when I did my warmup) and I surge towards it, but it’s actually some other display. Damn. Finally I see the cul-de-sac 2 mile marker, with Parker Roof and some other kid leading the way out. I’m pretty gassed, so I don’t even bother to check the Garmin. Time to throw down. I round the turn and head back out onto the loop, which is very familiar to me from years of doing the old route. It’s darker with the lights more spread out, but I make out the old registration shed and finally a downhill area with blue icicles. I mentally check my run nerd notes and remember blue icicles=blue shoe, a half mile to the finish. I’m already blasting away at 1000 percent effort, but hey, let’s ramp it up a notch anyway .Painfully, there’s a slight hill as you round the old entrance and head past the admission booth. By this point, I can see the finish in the adjacent parking lot when I catch some cross country kid. He does not like being Sasquatched. Not at all. He starts sprinting it out and we are riding shoulder to shoulder in the parking lot. Sadly, the 25 more years and 40 plus pounds must deal with reality as he pulls away near the last turn. I swing around the bend and I’m momentarily pissed when I see the red seconds in the 50’s. All this work for a 20 minute 5k??? Just as I start raging I notice the big 1-8. OMG.  I launch into full headless chicken, but painfully I am just a few seconds late, crossing in 19:03.  My first fear is a short course, but I get a 3.09 on the Garmin and I know the course is certified. Bam. I’ll take it. My fastest 5k in over a year and almost a return trip to the 18’s. 1st masters, 8th overall, 1st in the 40-44 and 2nd among those who can legally buy a beer. Apparently my key to speed is the fear of getting fifth gradered.

In the overall, Zach Demoya took the win in 18:23, with Wilson Harvey running 18:31 for 2nd. Wilson finished behind me at Springdale in August, so whatever he’s doing the past 3 months-it’s working. Seth Kurtz was 3rd. Devon Shirley showed up the kids in the women’s race, taking the win over teenagers Daria Yoder and Ashley Golbus.

Age group honor roll: First, Coach Joyce’s shout out:

More Team Utopia Youth domination at Sleigh Bell Trot!
Female Age 8 & under
1st- Kendra Miles, age 7, 23:43
3rd- Ryan Welch, age 5, 34:26 PR
Male Age 9 & 10
1st- Connor Forche, age 10, 19:42 PR
2nd- Wyatt Wilson, age 10, 20:52
5th- Jesse Oates, age 9, 24:47
Female Age 9 & 10
1st- Rylee Matthews, age 10, 23:45 PR
2nd- Elizabeth Brooks, age 10, 26:28, PR
3rd- Ashley Wardlaw, age 10, 27:43, PR
Male Age 11 & 12
2nd- Luke McKenna, age 12, 19:46, PR
3rd- Tyler Miles, age 11, 20:07, PR
4th- Ethan Kurtz, age 11, 21:28
6th- Ian Lewis, age 11, 21:56 PR
7th- Trapp Bryan, age 12, 23:23
Female Age 11 & 12
2nd- Ainsley Norris, age 11, 24:17

Chris Conrick won the 13-14 and took 4th overall. Tricia Roland was 3rd in the 35-39. Jason Forche took 2nd in the 40-44. Roy Shelley blazed a PR, went sub 23, and took 2nd in the 45-49. Jennifer Conrick won the 45-49 women. Jim Selbee was champion of the 50-54. Birgit Spann still has the speed and won the 55-59 by 6 minutes (21:40). Leeds Barroll and Pete Poore were top 2 in the 60-64. John Houser was champion of the 65-69. Henry Holt, Rocky Soderberg and Michael Lambert swept the 70+.



Lexington Half Marathon and 5k – Lexington, SC – 11/12/16


This is the third year of the Lexington Half marathon, an expansion of the Run Hard races which includes the Columbia Run Hard Marathon in March. It’s put on by Jesse Harmon, who basically rose the Columbia Marathon from the dead, directs the Run Hard program and apparently decided to add this race in his free time. I have a hard time just writing this ridiculous self-indulgent blog, so hats off to him!

Speaking of unmotivated, I was very slack about signing up for this race. I just did the Famously Hot Pink Half a few weeks ago, and I had planned to do this one on the road to my goal of the Kiawah Half in December. Unfortunately, between having a few illnesses, nursing a still somewhat wonky hamstring, finishing the tennis season, and various other non-running life events, my training has definitely been less than optimal. So I wussed out and did the 5k. I decided so late they had already shut down online registration and I had to drive across town to sign up in person at the expo.

As it turns out, it ended up working out well. The course was completely changed from last year, and now started and ended at the Blowfish baseball stadium. Jesse had promised a flat course, but I’m always skeptical of anything flat in mountainous Lexington. So I decided to do an easy pre-race 5k preview of the course since I was already out there. Turns out he was right – this route was really pretty nice. No major hills to speak of. Props to USATF coursemaster Ken Lowden for taking it easy on us.

This Saturday was looking a little more hopeful than last weekend, where I tried to combine my mini college reunion with racing the Spring Valley Presbyterian 5k and 5 miler. Turns out multiple beers at the Flying Saucer and the Salty Nut does not bode well for optimal race performance the next morning. Lord knows, you’d think I’d have grasped that concept by now. But again, impulse control is not my strong point. I felt like death the whole 3.1 last weekend and pulled a 20:30. What’s worse? I missed a holy grail trophy hunt in the 5 miler, won by Randy “THE H is SILENT” Hrechko.

I got to this race super early in order to catch the half marathon start for Columbia Running Club pics. There was a huge crowd on hand, so it definitely looked like registration was up. There was some nice cash to be had for the overall and masters winners, and it looked to be an epic battle between superhuman Eric Ashton and newly minted pro triathlete Adam Feigh for the men’s win. Shawanna “Peachrunner” White also appeared to have this in the bag for the women, though Sara Ashton might at least give her a challenge. Because I wussed on the half, I realized I probably missed a potential battle with the Code and Angel for masters money. But at least I’d be able to see them duke it out without an hour and a half of busting my ass. Masters women contenders included Team Utopia teammates Julia Norcia and Joyce “the puppetmaster” Welch. Michael Nance was out to pace his invisible friends to a 1:30 finish. The Yerg, Tug, Sam Hilliard, Chris Fawver, Michael Jensen, Mike Compton and David Russell were also representing the Black and Gold. Zander Jeffcoat, the 13 year old that unofficially won the Famously Hot Half , was on hand to shame the adults again. Other familiar faces were Larry Bates, Wendy Hart, Kristin Cattieu, Jennifer Conrick, Joe Russ, John Bradley, Jim and Sherry Fadel, Scott Flicker, Mike Griffin, Jeff Smith, Pamela Knapp, Alsena Edwards, Jen Clyburn, Dawn Erickson, Donna Chen, Jack Brklich, Andrew Lipps, Cheryl and Tommy Outlaw, Michael Beaudet, Barb Brandenburg, Reneww McCCormick, Ken  Lowden, Carol Wallace, Sandy Smith, Makenzie Wilson, Jennifer Hill, Wade Bauer, Kaye Sostak, Alan Humphries, Sharon Sherbourne, Jennifer Reeves, Hou Yin Chang. So yeah, a big crowd and lots of CRCers in there.

After taking pics of the start, I had another half hour to get ready. One side benefit of being a wuss about the half was potentially stumbling into a trophy hunt in the undercard 5k. Eric and Sarah Allers showed up though, so that meant I could forget about the holy grail and possibly masters as well. Also, Sarah’s times have been getting faster again so I was fearful of getting chicked and then never hearing the end of it. The melon head couldn’t take that. Drew Williams, my primary nemesis of 2016, was on hand for another epic battle. He had thrown down an incredible time at Ray Tanner a while back, and I have had a crap fall racing season, so it didn’t look good. At least he’s not 40 yet. There were a ton of kids there from the Run Hard program as well as Joyce’s Team Utopia Youth, so difficult to see who else might pose a challenge. Shelley Hinson, Jen Lybrand, Kimberly Hardin, Luci Smith, April Hutto, Rebecca West, Gretchen Lambert, Leeds Barroll, Rocky Soderberg, Patti Lowden, Stephanie Dukes, Dolly Rodgers and Jeanna Moffett (with a huge Run for God group) were representing.


I lined up on the front row, and with the gun it was a total madhouse. The Run Hard kids must have thought they signed up for a 400 meter sprint, because I was immediately swarmed by a sea of grade schoolers. I was pulling Barry Sanders moves and stiff arms to avoid getting trampled. Eric and Drew hauled tail from the start so they got a nice lead from the mob scene behind them. After navigating the first 100 meters, I then knew I would deal with the reverse of this – kids stopping and bailing out. Like a bunch of SmartCars hitting the brakes on the freeway with a Double tractor trailer behind them. Thankfully, I was able to avoid an epic collision, though I was already sucking wind a half mile in from all the dodging. Finally I settled into something of a groove, but damned if Drew and Eric were already way ahead and Tigs had a few steps on me too. The start is mostly flat, maybe an ever-so-soft incline on Ballpark road. I decided to ramp up the pace just a bit to pass Tigs, but honestly it felt like death, so I backed down a notch. Mile 1 in 6:28…when I usually shoot for around 6:15. The next mile was a neighborhood loop with a slight rise on the turnaround on Yale Rd and way back on Leaning Pine. I was catching a severe case of the Debbie Downers on this stretch. With the slight incline and wind in my face, I was laboring too much and it just felt slow. Wah wah.

Oh, and the kid. When I say kid, I don’t mean some college guy or cross country teen, I mean actual child. About 5 feet tall, this stud of the elementary school was rocking low 6 pace and unknowingly dragging my pride through the mud behind him. It’s one thing to get chicked, one thing to get grandmastered, and a whole other thing to get pre-teened. This could carry more shame than my first tri pic or the darrell brown snuggle bunnies photo. As I pulled near I heard some onlookers cheer him and call him Connor. Oh no. It’s that dude from Joyce’s team Connor Forsche. The kid that has already broken 20 minutes at age 10. Plus, he has an 8 year old brother who is almost as fast and probably right behind me.

I finally pull up next to him but apparently Joyce has been teaching cutthroat racing tactics as well. As soon as I put a few steps on him he surges and starts swerving a bit into the wake of the tractor trailer of a 41 year old next to him. I step to the side and push ahead, only to have him do the same thing. We hit the mile 2 mark and somehow I’ve slowed down even more, 6:30 split. The course has flattened out and now we are doing the reverse of the slight incline from the start. The kid is still battling me like David and Goliath, so I am forced to push in the Blue Shoes chips a lot earlier than usual. I apparently have zero shame, so as soon as I hear him really laboring I step on the gas. He lets out a moan or something, and I feel kinda bad, but apparently not bad enough to ramp it up another notch. After my extended pissing match with a 10 year old, I realize that Drew and a teenager have gotten a lot closer. The teen suddenly stops for a few seconds, but then looks up and sees the terrifying scene of the Sasquatch in full kick mode. He takes off like he’s escaping a rabid grizzly bear. I am really hurting by the time we near the baseball stadium but Drew and the kid seem so close. Unfortunately, they both ramp it up as we enter the stadium. Too gassed to look at my watch for the 3 mile split. What I thought was a direct shot in is actually a lap around the outfield warning track, and I am completely on fumes. Not enough room or time to catch Drew and I’ve got nothing left anyway. All I could see coming into the finish is the half marathon clock before I do a flop onto the turf. Pretty depressed I had to about donate breakfast for a 20 minute 5k. But wait, I actually have 19:35 on my Garmin. Is the course short?  Nope – 3.12 and even longer by Eric and Drew’s watches. I was very confused about the race all the way until I got home and uploaded the Garmin data – 5:53 last mile with a 5:40 kicker. Jeez, I guess i need more 10 year olds to almost shame me. Apparently he’s coming back at Sleigh Bell, so I better lay off my chips and salsa addiction and the adult beverages. Good enough for 4th overall, and another “consolation masters” win since Eric won the whole thing.

In the 5k, Eric won easily with an 18:36. Drew took 2nd in 19:18 with Jennifer Conrick’s son Chris (age 13) getting 3rd in 19:27. Sarah took the women’s win 20:27 ahead of Gabbi Hart and comeback kid Jen Lybrand. Jen took 3rd in  a post baby PR of 22:26. They did masters three deep with trophies, so you know I was happy. Shelley Hinson took 2nd female masters. In the Run Hard division, my 5th grade rival Connor Forsche took the win in 20:08, with Nolan Bausch 2nd and Tyler Miles 3rd. Connor’s little brother Camden ran a 20:34 as a third grader. Those are some insane times.

5k age group honor roll: Kimberly Hardin rocked a 23:50 to take 1st in the 30-34. Rebecca West on the 40-44 with Gretchen Lambert 2nd. Leeds Barroll was 2nd in the 60-64.Patti Lowden was champ of the 65-69. Rocky Soderberg took the 70+ win.

In the half, Eric Ashton continues to amaze with the win over Adam Feigh, exactly half his age. Mike Kilbourne from Augusta was 3rd. Among the women, Shawanna easily won in 1:21. I heard Sara Ashton was hurt pretty bad around 3 miles in – hope she is OK. Cruz Figueroa took second, with Cymbeline Wilke 3rd. Male masters was won by Brent Shealy – I seem to remember him stealing a trophy from me before. The Angel-Code showdown did not disappoint. Angel passed Darrell just a few meters from the finish to take 2nd masters. BRUTAL.  I am forever indebted to Luci Smith for capturing this montage:

The women’s masters competition was equally fierce, with a sweep of the category by some very fast Lexingtonians: Julia Norcia 1st, Wendy Hart 2nd and Jennifer Conrick 3rd. All within 2 minutes of each other.

Half marathon age group honor roll: Zander Jeffcoat had a tough day but still managed 1st in the 2-17. Miles Fowler won the 20-24 and 5th overall. David Russell crushed the 30-34 with a 1:23:07 for 6th overall. Michael Nance did another great invisible man pace job for 1:29:40 and 2nd in the 35-39. Kristin Cattieu took 2nd among the women. Sherri Mims was 3rd in the 40-44. Joyce, Heather Hawn and Sherry Fadel swept the 45-49 with Kenny Culbertson 2nd among the men. Phil Togneri was 3rd in the 50-54. Barb Brandenburg paced Sherry and took home 2nd in the 50-54 women, Renee McCormick was 3rd. Larry Bates and Alsena Edwards were champs of the 55-59. Carol Wallace paced the 2:15 group and took 3rd. Mike Compton blue shoed Joyce at the line and easily took the 60-64. Sharon Sherbourne won 2nd in the 65-69. Michael Lambert placed 3rd in the 70+.

My 5k data:

Half results from Strictly Running:

5k results:





NW YMCA Pumpkin Run 5k – Irmo, SC – 10/29/16


The YMCA Pumpkin run 5k celebrate d its 10th year in 2016. Although I haven’t done the race every year, it holds a special place in my heart for being one of the surviving races of my “rookie season” in 2009. Supporting evidence exists from Halloween of that year, where I helped contain the power of a young, very hot and cranky  jedi master in my old-school Pumpkin run shirt.


I had no idea about the course that year. I was a young punk high on the intoxicating scent of age group trophies and PRs, so I went out trying to go sub 21 for the first time. I suffered a very, very rude awakening. The first mile of this course is totally fine and non-threatening, but it hides the pure evil of a straight up 2nd mile that will slowly exorcise your will to live.  I almost caught my first case of walksies in that race but managed to trot to the turnaround and pull a 22 and change overall. The course is certified but always measures around 3.17 by Garmin, so definitely not a PR worthy route. Still, the YMCA always makes up for it with awesome shirts and swag, plus a costume contest.

In 2013 I was still in Hawaii recovery mode, so I dragged little Alex out for his first, untrained 5k. I think he cursed my name a few times on that mile 2 mountain, but at least he managed a feeble finishing sprint  to outgun a few Southern Strutt girls who passed him near the end.  Its important to pass down the most precious family values, like not getting chicked. The 2015 marked my first attempt at a costume. The Hulk mask was great at the Strictly Running costume run, but proved less than ideal when pulling 5k race pace.  I ended up yanking it off a quarter mile in when I realized I was either going to pull ten minute pace or suffocate. Death via Hulk mask didn’t seem like a cool way to go.  Angel ended up catching me just after the 2 mile mark, and we waged an epic battle the rest of the way in. I surged too far from the finish and got caught on the last incline – giving up pride, the masters money, and nearly my breakfast in the process. Our finish pics are definitely classic though:


Since having a costume appeals to my attention-whore streak, I was more than ready to do a repeat performance in 2016. I was already seasoned by my Bunny Hop 5k race, where I learned that nothing beats blue shoeing someone like blue shoeing someone in a GIANT ASS BUNNY SUIT. The 21:13 currently stands as the state 5k masters costume record, or at least in my mind.  I was just about to check out at Party City with an admittedly kinda lame Captain America outfit when my wife brought up the Egyptian Pharaoh. This seemed to be the perfect mix of being ridiculously attention seeking while still allowing you to run reasonably fast.  I didn’t realize until later that it also meant eyeliner and a skirt, making me look half Egyptian royalty, half aging drag queen. But at least I now have more appreciation for how long it takes women to get ready to go out.


Again, I had a test run with the Strictly Halloween run (Columbia Running Club sponsored!) and it  went pretty well. No mask this time, though the 6 foot staff of power might require some delicate maneuvering in close quarters.

When I showed up on race day, I was a little nervous, since I was expecting another knock-down drag-out fight with Angel for masters. But then I see OJ Striggles, who probably wonders why I look all disappointed every time I see him.  Bye bye overall, masters and age group, at least by CRC points. Oh well, as it turns out Eric Ashton showed up last second as well, so “trophy hunt” was definitely not in the cards today. The hardcore CRC contingent was all there – Tour director John Gasque, Pete Poore, Alex Ponamarev, Leeds Barroll, Henry Holt, Rocky  Soderberg, Peter Mugglestone,. Probably 5000 races in our little group at the start line, ten minutes early.  Shawanna White was there to surely  take the women’s win. I’m not sure we have another woman in Columbia that can challenge her in the 5k anyway. Maybe Erin Miller?  Jonathan Kirkwood and Nate Carrasco would probably be in my vicinity.  Andy Mikula,  Adam Bernthal, TUS’ Sara Bonner, Robbie “OG” McClendon, Wayne Shuler, CRC webmaster emeritus Jim Selbee, Deirdre Maldonado and son Louis, Lisa Smarr,  Jessica Weaver and mom Susan, Melinda and Reese Petruzzi, Janette and Joe Robinson, Makenzie Wilson , Tommy and Cheryl Outlaw , Brigitte Smith , David and Dawn Hale, Hou-Yin Chang and Ken Sekley were some familiar faces.

Just like Famously Hot last week, I am just standing around when someone shouts GO! and we all take off. The first quarter mile I’m trying to keep the staff from impaling  anyone as the crowd starts to thin. Exiting the parking lot, a woman is encouraging two kids, in a very serious manner, to keep up with the pharaoh. I start laughing but I swear they were still around at the mile mark. Of course, OJ and Eric have left everybody for dead and Shawanna isn’t too far behind. Nate has blasted off like it’s an 800 meter track race, and Bernthal is close to him with another cross country kid. I’m running with Sekley for awhile, though I have no idea what his current fitness is since I haven’t seen him race in a year.  I’d like to say I always run my own race,  but my ADHD race brain and oversized ego often veer me off track to whomever is “beating me” a half mile in. As mentioned before, mile 1 is pretty easy, mostly flat and downhill to the marker. My Garmin gives me the split in 6:28 . This isn’t as fast as I want, but better to save some for what’s to come. Plus, one must consider my oversized relay baton and the inferno-like heat production of a shiny Egyptian headdress.  A strong looking dude with close cut hair passes me close to the mile marker and I’m pretty sure its that Ortaglia guy. The same guy that “stole” my age group win at the 9-11 race.  Time to exact my revenge – in eyeliner and a dress.

Mile 2 just sucks. A mountain of hill that just keeps going and going. I train on hills constantly, but damned if this monster isn’t sucking all the wind out of me. Short and steep inclines are fine for me, but these gradual unrelenting beasts are just killer.  Ashton and Strriggles eventually  come into view, so at least there’s some hope for a  turnaround at some point. By the time I reach the summit, I’ve managed to put a few steps on Sekley and I’m right next to Ortaglia.  Just when you are ready for the downhill mile, they make you come up over the top, go down a steep decline and turn on a dime around a traffic cone. Like the Darlington 500, Ortaglia makes the turn wide and I pass on the inside, chugging back up the mini hill to get some momentum down the ski slope ahead. I see Kirkwood and a host of others not too far behind, so I make an effort to throw down a little to create some separation. It helps that I have a significant “gravitational advantage” on most of my 5k peers. The return home feels glorious, and you get to see everybody in the race on the way back down, which is nice. What’s not so nice is the 6:52 split for mile 2 near the top. Holy half marathon pace in a 5k, Batman!


I’m gunning it on the way down when I see Carrasco getting reeled in pretty fast. He fell victim to the same thing at the Dry Run. I try to encourage him as I pass, but then he jumps on my back and rides the wake of my Greyhound bus almost all the way down. Eventually he pulls back very suddenly and we’ve finally hit the valley of the mountain. Just a couple of short inclines to go – unfortunately they are the same ones that stuck a fork in me last year in my battle with Angel. And who knows if Ortaglia is lurking back there? With this in mind I decide to empty the tank just as I turn onto Kennerly road. Arms pumping, headdress flying, maybe makeup running, I throw down the kick. About half way up the hill, I hear a THWACK! and there goes the top of my staff. It seems Party City plastic sticks are not safety tested for the torque of a Blue Shoe 5k kick. Oh well, damned if I’m picking it up – my trophy mind has already processed that Eric and OJ will take top 2, leaving me my coveted masters win, even if it’s a consolation prize. Of course it won’t matter if some other old dude catches me, so I throw down as hard as I can. Mile 3 is at 6:06 and comes up pretty far from the finish. I can see the 19’s flip over  to 20 on the last stretch in the parking lot, and I cross in 20:17.  6th overall, 1st masters.


I never like going over 20, but I’ll take this with the hard course and the costume. The staff probably slowed me a little, and the heat from the headdress and the wrist covers was surprisingly bad, even in the cool weather.

In the overall, Eric took the win in 16:42 with OJ second in 17:16. Adam Bernthal clocked a 19:44 for third at age 14. Sadly, my days of beating Adam are probably done. As expected, Shawanna easily took the women’s win in a blazing 18:22, an amazing time for this course. Fourteen year old Allison Spirek placed second in 22:10, with TEN YEAR OLD Abigail White third in 22:17. This was the girl running with me at the beginning – extremely impressive.  Looks like Chapin XC has some good years in its future.  Allison Henry won female masters.

Age group glory: Nate Carrasco won the 20-24  men. Makenzie Wilson took 3rd in the 25-29. Andy Mikula won the 30-34 by a measly 7 minutes. Sara Bonner and Deirdre Maldonado  went 1-2 in the 35-39. Triathete Mike Frassica won the 40-44.  Ortaglia, Kirkwood and Wayne Shuler swept a fast 45-49.  Heather Hawn took the 45-49 women. Phil Togneri and Jim Selbee went 1-2 in the 50-54. Ken Sekley won the 55-59 men with John Gasque 3rd. Lisa Smarr was champ of the 55-59 women with Dawn Galloway-Hale 2nd. Robbie McClendon, Leeds Barroll and Tommy Outlaw won the 60-64, while Cheryl was first on the women’s side. Alex Ponomarev and John Houser went 1-2 in the 65-69 men. Brigitte Smith won among the women. Jan Hardwick, Peter Mugglestone and Henry Holt claimed the podium in a very competitive 70+.

Oh, and Dorothy and her cowardly lion dog won the costume contest in an election dominated by some very screamy southern strut girls. I did manage 2nd place, though. Always love a double trophy hunt. The gingerbread girl themed Weavers took home 3rd .