The Sweat it Out 5k has been a regular on the Tour de Blue shoes since its inception in 2015. It was founded by Jamie Duke, whose son Nick suffers from a rare condition, Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia, which makes it unable for him to sweat. Proceeds from the race go to benefit the foundation that promotes awareness and research for Nick’s condition and other similar conditions. Shannon Godby helped get the race started and then Erin Roof, aka GRIT endurance, took over a few years back. Other than it being hot (it is in June in SC) there isn’t much bad you can say about the race. A free beer at packet pickup, flat/fast/unique/certified course, original Ernest Lee paintings as awards, Chick fil-a biscuits at the finish, this one checks all the boxes. And I’m not just saying that as the unofficial “elite” GRIT “spokesmodel”. Quotation marks definitely needed.
With the aforementioned free beer at packet pickup at the Hunter Gatherer Hangar, I was of course on board for that. As in keeping with my many alcohol-influenced race decisions, somewhere amid the IPAs I stated the rather lofty goal of trying to track down another 18:59. While I had cracked 19 a few times already this season, those times were aided by it being at least 30 degrees cooler than the projected temps for Saturday morning. Plus, the Sweat it Out course is definitely the full 3.11, judging from my Garmin from previous races. Though I had gone low 19 in last year’s virtual showdown with Sean F@$# Higgins, it was May then and freakishly cool that morning. I’m not sure I had gone below 19:20 officially on the course. But hey, since Columbia has decided to bless us with an early start to its oven-like summer, I was already getting some heat acclimation in. The Yerg invited me to pace his virtual Sweat it Out (he had to work Saturday), so I had gotten a chance to do a race pace workout in the heat. News flash, it still sucks.
I open the door on race morning, and sure enough it’s a freaking steam room. The race always tells you to “sweat for Nick”. Well, 5 minutes outside I was sweating for Nick and about 3 other people. Gotta love our famously hot summer. Silent H and I do a warmup on the course and apparently just a 2-mile slog jog has me completely drenched. I was definitely not feeling it, and I knew all the big dogs would be out at this race. Sure enough, Strictly Running and Team Utopia South seemed to bring out most of their teams. Ediberto “Trackstar Eddie” Crisanto always comes out for this one, so nobody’s going to catch him. Newly minted masters runner Justin Bishop is back racing again and destroying us old dudes. Westley McKinney and Jason Dimery were on hand as well so that pretty much eliminated my podium chances. And all the fast ladies were here. Jen Lybrand and MC from SR as well as Jen Davis, Ivanka, Christa, Ashley and Brittany from TUS. With Higgins off to Germany and Drew saving up for the Cottonmouth Beerlay, I was hoping to claim the masters crown (assuming Bishop gets on the overall podium), with Ed and Randy as my main competition.
After a prayer and the anthem (kudos to the young girl who crushed it a capella) we were suddenly off. I wasn’t quite ready for the confetti and the start, and I felt something fall off me but didn’t know what (turns out it was my sunglasses). But when you’re shooting for 18:59 there’s no room for you to go back and check. Ain’t nobody got time for that. The start feels like a kick in the stomach. Everybody is out there killing it and I can already feel the sauna like air filling up my lungs. Ugh. I essentially divide the SIO course into three loops, Prince Wales, Macon and Saye Cut. There is an ever so slight incline to Prince Wales and honestly I’m feeling like death not even a half mile in. I can see Justin, Eddie separate from the field, with Dimery and Westley just behind. Ivanka is a few paces ahead with some random guy I don’t recognize. There feels like a stampede behind me though. I finish the first loop then get dumped out on to Galway drive where I see Jordan and Shawanna spectating. As I enter the Macon rectangle loop I feel like I’m going too slow and honestly wonder if I should drop out. That’s when my watch bleeps out a 6:01, so that probably explains the pain. When you spend most of your days jogging 9 minute pace, a 6 flat feels like a punch in the face.
OK just hang in there. As per usual, my body tends to chill out in the second mile and recognize the weekly abuse I put it through. It feels a little better to make the turn and finish the second loop. No one’s passed me at least and I’m making up some ground on Ivanka. Saye Cut is an out and back on the same road, so it gives you a sense of where everyone is. Eddie has suddenly dropped Justin and is already heading back just as I enter the last loop. Justin comes cruising by and I can tell he’s enjoying this about as much as I am. Read: not very much. Just before the turnaround I manage to pass Ivanka, with unknown guy just ahead. I make the turn and I’ll be damned if there aren’t a ton of people crushing it out there. Ed , Christa and Jen are just behind me with Jen Lybrand not too far back. MC and H are right behind them. Damn, this is going to be a fast race. Mile 2 is 6:05, so still ever so slightly faster than goal pace. Not much room for error though.
It’s a psychological boost to finish the third loop, but you are most definitely not in the clear. It’s about ¾ of a mile back to the finish with the only real hill on the course at about 2.5 miles in. I’m feeling pretty gassed. Unknown guy, later identified as Stephen Hicks, is holding me off just a few paces ahead. I’m trying to keep up pace but as we hit the hill it both slows us way down. I’m trying to lift my legs and power through, but the 78 degrees and humidity are crushing my soul. Turning back on Olde Knight Parkway towards the home stretch, I start having my typical internal debate whenever I have someone in my radar. Rational Alex says “OK, its fine, no need to kill yourself to take out this guy, he’s probably not even in your age group, why are you so damn competitive”. And then dark passenger comes in “TAKE HIM DOWN HE MUST BE BLUE SHOED DO IT DO IT DO IT”. I’m waging this war in my psyche while gasping air and breathing down poor Stephen’s neck. The dude is going to have some serious nightmares. One last turn to the finish and I can see the clock around 18:40ish. It’s going to be close but, having run just a few 5ks, I can tell the 18:59 is probably not going to happen. But seeing the red clock readout makes the primitive monkey brain take over and I launch into full headless chicken mode, pulling alongslide Mr. Hicks for a second and then blasting the last 20 meters to edge him out. 19:04 officially, 5 th overall. I had been so good about avoiding a finish line collapse recently, but I went down like a sack of potatoes. HYC would be proud. But hey, it was worth it. Sure enough, Hicks is 43 and was competing for my precious masters trophy. And thanks to Erin, and possibly Ron Hagell, judging by the video, for saving my fallen sunglasses from the stampede.
In the overall, Eddie won easily in 17:14. Justin is back in the 17s with a 17:49 for 2nd, edging out Dimery in 17:56 in a reversal of their Foot Pursuit 5k showdown. They ended up doing the awards differently, giving Justin the masters win instead of overall 2 nd , with Westley taking 3 rd overall in 18:04 and Steve Hicks 3 rd masters in 19:06. The women’s overall featured an insane performance by Christa Collins, who had never broken 20 minutes before. She ended up destroying her old PR in 19:18 to take the win. Close behind was Ivanka in 19:30 and Jen Davis in 19:35. Jen Lybrand also crushed her PR en route to her first sub 20 in 19:54. Rounding out the women’s masters podium was MC Cox in 20:14 and Colleen Quarles in 22:15. So cool to see such a fast race by all these ladies.
Age Group Honor Roll:
Women: Ashley Holman and Brittany Jones were 1-2 in the 35-39. Sara Bonner took the 40-44 by a mere 9 minutes. Stephanie “STEVIE DEE” Dukes won the 45-49. Missy Caughman won the 50-54, with Renee McCormick taking the 55-59. Lynn Grimes, Sue Porter and Helene Lipe swept the 65-69.
Men: Regan Freeman was 3rd in the 20-24, Fellow psychiatrist Seth Lapic rocked a 21:29 to win the 30-34. Silent H Randy Hrechko and Michael Beaudet went 1-2 in the 50-54.Ed Aulfuldish, Lary Jourdain and Eliere Tolan topped a super fast 55-59. Jim Williams and Patrick McCormick were 1-2 in the 60-64.Pete O’ Boyle, Pete Poore and Ron Lipe swept the 65-69 podium. John Houser and birthday boy Ron Hagell took the 70+.
Other familiar finishers in the results include Joey and Gabriella Swearingen, Jessica and Susan Weaver, Rebekah Robertson, Mark Gallagher, Phil Smith, Will Rowan, Gretchen Lambert, Maria Pray, Kat Hudgins, Greta Dobe, Kana Rahman, Kerry Stubbs, Jennifer and Jason Norris and Wendy Homeyer.
Virtual finishers include: Rob Yerger, Charles Seastrunk, Rocky Soderberg, Harry Strick, Melinda Waldrop, and Dianne Steadman. Lynn Grimes and Kerry Stubbs appeared to have double dipped the virtual and the live race!
All the winners went home with Ernest Lee paintings and lots of prizes were given out at the finish, plus Chick Fil-A biscuits. Another great race by Jamie and Erin!
All photos below from Tracy (Jedi Runner Photography)