The Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell 5k is a part of a larger series of 5ks across the country going to benefit arthritis research. I think the inaugural event was held in 2011, and I know I raced it at least one time when it used to be held near Moore Orthopedics in Lexington. The old course was the most brutal, sadistic route anyone could have thought up. Total roller coaster with a random out-and-back portion that made you run up a mountain and back just for funsies. I only remember it for being one of my favorite Blue Shoeings of all time – an all out sprint to capture 3rd place overall, break 20 minutes and causing the 20 something kid I passed to puke just a few steps from the finish. So awesome. And yes, I am obviously one sick SOB.
With all the holiday races and Kiawah over the last few years, I missed this race. But I finally got my chance to come back this year. The Arthritis Foundation felt they had enough of their torture-chamber course from hell and decided upon the much nicer Timmerman Trail for the last couple of years. This course has basically zero hills and is on a trail that is almost entirely paved. Sounds pretty fast, but with all the twists and turns it’s hard to gather up speed, particularly if you’re 195 pounds of less-than-agile Sasquatch. Still, this course also held memories of yet another epic blue shoeing, the 2017 March for Meals 5k. Jeff Brandenburg still wakes up in a cold sweat thinking of how a wild albino bear chased him through the woods for 3 miles and left him for dead in the home stretch. Poor Jeff…
I was a week removed from the Kiawah Half, but with the Wine 10k taking up all the elites and Harborside Lights possibly drawing some people away later that day, my trophy hunting sense tingled a little. This thought was shot down immediately when I saw 14 year old Zander Jeffcoat already there when I showed up. Turns out 28 years and 70 less pounds probably give you an advantage in this running thing. Later, the Plex turned up, and Wilson Harvey came back from Louisiana, in his words, “just to beat you one more time”. Savage.
There was a decent crowd at the start, though many were doing the “untimed” 5k, which sounded like absolute blasphemy to me. Roy Shelley was there to start off his day of double dipping (Harborside). Matt Gregory and Hrechko’s nemesis Johnathan Kirkwood were on hand to make sure I didn’t slack too much. Bionic man Dave Hale was on hand to prove that no health problem will keep this man down. Poor psych resident Seth Lapic had to endure multiple months of narcissistic consult liaison psychiatrist runtalk from both Brandenburg and myself, so he felt compelled to follow in our esteemed footsteps. Nate Carrasco, Shelley Hinson, Leeds Barroll and daughter Agnes, Pete Poore, Sheila Bolin, Amanda Lyons, Chesson Merritt, Tommy and Cheryl Outlaw, Rocky Soderberg, Dawn Galloway-Hale, Alex Ponomarev, Brigitte Smith, Brie, Sabine and Quentin McGrievy were on hand. Henry Holt ran a state record marathon last weekend and still came back to race this week at 82. #hardcore! Speaking of hardcore, Tracy Tisdale came out to take pics and stand in the 30 degree cold for an hour– thanks Tracy!
With the start, there is a long stretch on the open road for almost a mile until you actually enter the forest. Nate Carrasco had a shirt that said something about “it’s a race, its supposed to hurt! Go fly a kite you pansy!” that I had to stare at the whole 1st mile. The way I was feeling in the early going, kite flying sounded a lot more fun. Surprisingly, Nate didn’t fade and actually left me for dead. Mile one is close to the entrance into the forest and came back like 6:24 or something. The next mile was pretty brutal – totally flat but just unrelenting twists and turns through the forest, and I had no idea where I was on the course. Luckily it was well marked. I tracked down some dude who was getting the full rabid bear chase experience from me. Matt Gregory later said it was him, but this Clydesdale had his blinders on and didn’t dare look back. I hit the mile 2 marker on the course well before the Garmin went off, so I figured the gps would be off track like it does in Harbison and Sesqui. With a mile to go I tried to ramp up a kick, but I just couldn’t get any momentum going without risking a wipeout. I was able to see Wilson up ahead at times but I was too out of gas to mount a chase. I kept having hallucinations of the finish area but the trail just kept going and going. Finally, I hit the open area near the finish, about a quarter mile of straight, though with the only real incline on the whole course. I powered through as hard as I could, though without a Brandenburg to take down, it was decidedly a less impressive kick. Crossed the line in 19:41, good enough for 5th overall and 1st in the ten year 40-49 group. Garmin had a 3.05 distance but everything checked out with the certified course map, and gps is horrible in the woods.
In the overall, we all got smoked by a 14 year old as Zander Jeffcoat coasted to an easy win in 17:16. Plexico and Nate actually had a battle, though Plex pulled through in the end to take 2nd. Nate obviously has been putting in the training – I don’t think he’s beaten me before and he destroyed me here. Among the women, 12 yr old Carly Fuel kept up the “good day for middle schoolers” theme by taking the win in 23:47. Amanda Lyons and Michaela Brown rounded out the podium.
Age groupers: Quentin McGrievy took home top honors in the 12 and under boys while sister Sabine placed second amongst the girls. Seth’s wife Lauren won the 20-29 women, while Agnes Barroll and Chesson Merritt placed 2nd and 3rd. Sheila Bolin won 2nd in the 30-39. Shelley Hinson edged Brie McGrievy for a close 40-49 women’s division. Dawn Galloway-Hale and Cheryl Outlaw claimed top 2 in the 60-69. Brigitte Smith was 4th but would be second in the 65-69 (CRC points always done by traditional 5 year age groups)
Wilson Harvey was 4th overall and won the 20-29 men, Seth Lapic 3rd. Matt Gregory was 2nd in the 30-39. Johnathan Kirkwood took 2nd in the 40-49 with Chris Beattie third..Roy Shelley was 1st in the 50-59, while Dave Hale took 3rd. Alex Ponomarev, Pete Poore, Tommy Outlaw and Leeds Barroll rounded out an all CRC 60-69. Leeds would have taken 2nd in the 65-69, just coming back from injury, too! CRC legends Rocky Soderberg and Henry Holt were champs of the 70+.