So I was kind of on the fence about this weekend- Silent H was doing the Run Hard half and I’ve been wanting to throw down on that tough course to see what I can do. However, I’m a horrible planner, and a quick look at February showed that this was one weekend after Mt Mitchell. I’m pretty dumb when it comes to running decisions, but I was pretty sure that racing a hard, hilly half seven days after a 40 miler wasn’t exactly in my best interest.
While I debated the run hard 5k and the allure of a years worth of chick fil a (masters win), Erin Roof started harassing me about this race in Camden. Last year the Lucky Leprechaun fell on my birthday and I got a cookie cake along with a forced happy birthday singalong by unwitting camdenites, 99 percent of whom had no idea who this melon headed megalomaniac was. Erin reminded me it was once again my birthday weekend and suggested I was definitely elite enough to get a race invite. Feeding the already ridiculous ego is an easy play for Mrs. Roof. Of course, I was still facing doing a 5k on ultra legs, so that didn’t sound super appealing. And it’s pretty much impossible for me to pin on a bib and not go 1000 percent. I’ve found only one solution to racing if I can’t run a fast time: COSPLAY. My act as the seven foot sub seven pace rabbit has been a fixture at the YMCA Bunny Hop 5k for years. And I’ve recently expanded my repertoire to the see spot giant dog and pharoah/viking/Hulk at the pumpkin run. And who better to play a little person character than 6’3″ sasquatch with a giant head?? At least there was the enormous ego and insatiable need for attention.
I spent a considerable amount of time scouring amazon prime for a leprechaun costume that was actually runnable. Plus, im not exactly one size fits all, so there’s that. I finally found one that had not only sexy green velour pantaloons but also a glowing review by some 6’4″ monster that said it FIT GREAT! Perfect. Oh and it was. Arriving in the mail in 2 business days, this was a cosplay masterpiece, complete with shamrock vest, bowtie, and miraculously, a hat that fit.
Fast forward to race day and legs were definitely still feeling the 7 and a half hours of mountain running from last weekend. Luckily the weather was pretty nice. Good and chilly was perfect , especially for those in a green tux with tails. vThe race helps support the Camden Irish Fest and it looked like they had a cool set up for the event. Drew Williams, Mark Bedenbaugh, Jennifer and Jason Norris, Pete Poore, Leeds Barroll, Geary McAlister, Will and Amanda Rowan, Gabriel Barahona, Kara Clyburn, Michael Beaudet, Tom and Lisa Hart, Clara Nance, Ginger Catoe, and Melanie Lindsay were the familiar faces/Columbia Running Club contingent. Tracy aka Jedi Runner Photography lent her photo skills to document all the Irish glory. Looking at the competition at the start, it looked like Plexico versus a fit looking teenage kid in arm warmers. Drew looked to take the masters win but would probably make the overall podium. I had no idea about what I could do. I told Geary in my warmup that the legs felt like death and I would be mailing this one in. Geary has raced me too many times to know I was lying to myself “LIKE HELL YOU WILL”. Yep, he was probably right.
The course is pretty mostly a rectangle in Camden with a gradual, steady incline in the first half and then the reverse on the way back. If you haven’t run a 40 miler in the past few days, it can produce a pretty fast time. Course is pretty much right on the 3.11 by Garmin and is certified.
With the gun, I try to attempt 5k pace but it feels instantly like hell. My right hammy, notorious for being tight, decides to make itself known immediately that it is not ready for this abuse. I instantly fall back in the pack and seriously debate throwing down a few 7:30s and calling this a day. But then I get passed by the first female, and my ego is getting checked right off the bat. And despite the slightly awkward costume, the pantaloons are pretty freeflowing. Probably too much based on the pictures. Yikes. First mile is steady uphill and after the first mile my hammy relents a little and lets me pick it up some. I’m about 10 meters back from two grandmasters beasts coming back from injury, Coach B and Geary. I hit mile one in 6:56, about 40 seconds off my usual 5k pace, which kills me so I ramp it up some more. We round the block at the turnaround and I’m hot on the heels of a Camden XC kid who looks like he’s maybe 13 or 14. Surprisingly he turns and gives me a fist bump and says good job to the Leprechaun twice his size. Mile 2 in 6:46, so at least I’ve gotten down to half marathon pace. Last stretch is a steady downhill and I’m thinking I can catch Geary and Mark if I really push it. Like Tom Petty, I I push the pedal down to make some time. I manage to catch Geary about 2.5 miles in but Mark is kicking it in pretty hard. Arm warmer teen, who I thought might give Plex a run for his money, has adopted some kind of walk/run method and is just ahead stopped for a moment. I’ve seen him leapfrogging up ahead for the past mile or so. He sees me coming and jumps back onto the road. Mark is up ahead, probably with tongue out and harnessing some of that old 14 min 5k speed in his kick. As we make the turn onto Dekalb St, I know we have about a quarter mile to go. Arm warmer teen stops again and I try to blow by him as hard as I can. With the last turn onto Market St, I know I cant catch Coach B . But as I try to pose for the Jedi Runner camera, I sense arm warmer approaching on my side. OH HELLS TO THE NO. The dark passenger that dwells inside me comes to the fore and turns my race into Lucky Charms on meth as I catapult towards the finish, holding off arm warmers at the tape. Garmin records a 4:30/mile pace on the final stretch as I crash through in 20:30. Good enough for 2nd masters, 6th overall. It wasn’t pretty but I’ll take it in full costume on ultra legs.
In the overall, Plex took the win in 17:51. Sixteen year old Cameron Hoffman took 2nd with 2018 LL champ Drew Williams finishing 3rd. Nichole Hill, Olivia Robertson and Saskia Munn took the women’s overall Coach B, myself and Geary took the male masters podium, with Lori Tucker, Jill Surface and Bertha Woehl taking the top 3 masters women.
Age group: Will Rowan was 3rd in the 40-44 men, Jim Williams was 3rd in a brutally competitive 55-59 group. Leeds Barroll and Pete Poore were 2nd and 3rd in the 65-69. Kara Clyburn won the 40-44 women. Clara Nance was 3rd in the 45-49.
Oh and let’s not forget the all important costume contest. Clara Nance, a dude with an Ireland flag cape and the 6’3″ leprechaun all took home wins and a Texas Roadhouse gift certificate. And 50+ Camdenites were forced once again to sing happy birthday to the random idiot in the costume. And I got birthday beer. The megalomania lives on.