At some point in time, many years ago, Erin Roof cajoled me into running as a giant rabbit for the YMCA Bunny Hop 5k. Though I was initially hesitant, apparently my insatiable need for attention overrode any sense of dignity and I ended up loving it. Plus, what is better than blue shoeing people in normal race attire when you can do it as an enormous anthropomorphized animal. Truth be told, the bunny suit is just a giant onesie and I could run fairly freely in it, so I was able to get down to a 19:36 in the suit, a moment of pride for myself and possibly shame for the ones around me. Sadly, my one chance at bringing down Brandenburg as the bunny ended just a few seconds short. I do love the finish pics with me in the background though. Fast forward a few years, and my race cosplay has ranged from Santa, a pharaoh, a viking, a leprechaun, and even a couple of years as the mascot dog for See Spot Run. But by far the least attractive of my suits is the turkey. This monstrosity gives me a faux beer gut, giant wings and tail, and a red skull cap complete with eyes and a gobbler. It is hideous. And awesome. My maiden voyage in the turkey suit was in 2019, where I managed a respectable 20:09 and crushed the poor spirits of Jessa Wigington and Ivanka Tolan. I can only imagine the turkeying helped make them into the sub 19 runners they are today.
Of course COVID canceled the 2020 race but I was back and ready to go for the 2021 Shandon Turkey Trot and Burn 5k. The race, previously known as the Shandon Turkey Trot, has been around for decades. It was on the brink of going defunct when Erin and GRIT picked up the race and revived it. 2019 was a big success with a nice crowd and the return of the awesome turkey trophies of years past. Flat and fast course, plus, free beer at backstreets afterward. What’s not to love?
I got to the race my standard hour early and really struggled with the turkey outfit. Yeah, it was more cumbersome then I remembered. The faux gut is ridiculous and the tail feather had detached so it was falling down. Oh well. At least I could pull up the suit like a dress to make it easier to run and of course, destroy the portapotty as usual. I did a quick warmup with Ed, Christa, Liz Locke and Tracy. Legs felt like absolute death. I guess racing for the 5th time in 7 days will do that to you. Recent blue shoe victims Greer and JB were on hand, but I sure wasn’t going to catch them this time. My goal was to squeak out a sub 20.
I strolled up to the start line and quickly got in a photo portfolio shoot from the race photog and a very enthusiastic B106 DJ. Ms. NC for America has nothing on my pageant poses. B106 girl quickly dropped me when she laid eyes on Muscledup runner, who was apparently more attractive than a 7 foot turkey. Go figure. The start line had a bunch of cross country studs so hopefully they would not let Greer get too many overall points. Rob “THE YERG” Yerger was in full Santa gear as promised in a metaphorical Christmas chasing away of Thanksgiving theme. The start was chaotic as usual with everyone throwing down hard on Woodrow Street. My legs were definitely giving me the WTF feeling. What’s worse was that my SPIbelt wasn’t tight and was bouncing around out of rhythm with my turkey gut. DAMMIT. I finally managed to tighten it while trying to maintain 5k speed. I was already in full debbie downer mode about my ability to run fast, when I heard two dudes say “that turkey isn’t going to last 5 minutes like that” . Oh, it’s on now. I speed up but damned if Silent H isn’t hauling ass with me, along with Seth Lapic. I’m thinking I’m going significantly slower than usual, but my Garmin gives me 6:11 at mile 1 on Heyward St right before Ott.
Mile 2 is pretty much the same terrain but the all out throw down at Sleigh Bell and the 11 miles on Thanksgiving are putting a hurting on my legs. Cardio is good but no spring in my step, even with the VAPORS. I don’t even look at the mile 2 split on Wilmot. As we turn on Shandon on the way back home I finally catch Dr. Lapic and tell him sub 20 is within his reach. Apparently a 19:59 is a rite of passage for all Columbia psychiatrists. Rounding the corner back onto Heyward I surprisingly catch Regan, but he’s feeling the pain of this week’s race schedule too. I’m pretty gassed but even in full turkey regalia, the last mile is my favorite. I’m throwing down hard by the time we hit Woodrow again, and I’m trying my best to catch FAST EDDIE but he’s blasting it out pretty good too. Up ahead I see Greer and JB locked in an absolute shoulder to shoulder sprint. I can’t even tell who won from my vantage point. Finally I see the clock come into view and it’s in the low 19s. One last blast, complete with a few wing flaps at the line, and I cross at 19:30. I’m pretty jacked about the time, and certainly a turkey PR.
Overall: Jack Stacy took the win in 16:41 followed by fellow xc dudes JC Blackwelder and David Wiliams. Christa IRON MAIDEN Collins took the ladies’ win in another impressive 18:52 over Caroline McNeill and Liz Locke. Masters winners were two out of towners in Herbert Krabel and Joel Stacy, while Steve Greer edged out JB for 3rd. Strong work, muscled up, no pun intended. Barbara Brandenburg saved face for the racing power couple with a 3rd place masters win.
Age Group Honor Roll, women: Sarah Hudgins showed running is in the genes with a first place in the 20-24 with a strong 21:50. Lindsey Hendren may be in LA but can throw down some fast times in SC with a 22:13 and 1st in the 30-34. Lauren Lapic and Kara Stevens completed the podium, with Allison Sweeney 4th. Megan Duffy had a full race schedule this week as well and took 1st in the 35-39. Bridgette MZSWEETIEPIE Honor won the 40-44 in just seconds over 2nd and 3rd,with Jessalyn Smith 4th. Angie Thames was 2nd in the 45-49, while Shenequa Coles took 2nd in the 50-54 and Tracy Tisdale 4th. Carol Wallace, Melody Kreiling, Lisa Smarr and Teresa Harrington rocked a competitive 60-64 group. Lynn Grimes notched a 25:58 at 69 to take the 65-69 group in another 80+ percent AG grade performance. Sharon Sherbourne was champ of the 70+.
Age group honor roll, men: Regan Freeman got turkeyed but pulled out a nice 19:41 for 1st in 25-29. Ian “don’t call me loff-lyn” Loughlin took 2nd in 23:50. Seth Lapic got his sub 20 with a 19:52 and 2nd in the 30-34. Antjuan Seawright won the 35-39 with a nice sub 22. Yerg edged out Justin Campbell for 2-3 in the 40-44, with Dr. John Baker just behind. At least he had another epic blue shoeing of Lindsey Hendren to make him feel better. I managed a 1st in the 45-49 and the best turkey trophy ever, proudly displayed on my desk. Randy SILENT H Hrechko captured yet another sub 20 and the 50-54 win. I guess body pump and 25 miles per week works. Jeff Brandenburg, Ed Aufuldish and Frank Seier swept the 55-59 podium with Clay Ham just behind. Dave Hale had a winnah winnah chicken dinnah by placing 3rd in the self-proclaimed “geezer jock” division of 60-64. Pete O’Boyle crushed the 65-69 division by 7 minutes, with Leeds coming in 4th just before his 70th birthday. The ageless Alex Ponomarev placed 3rd in the 70+.
Other notable finishers include: Jennifer Tudor, Laura Hudgens, Ron Hagell, Pam Griffin, Paul Laymon, Will Rowan, Greta Dobe, Jessica Weaver, Sue Weaver, Amy Hildrreth, Gretchen Lambert, Chateau Mangaroo, Pete Poore, Phil Smith, Melinda Petruzzi, Bob Petruzzi, Reese Petruzzi, Kat Hudgins, Joey Swearingen, Michael Jensen, Heather Hawn, Jessalyn Smith, Missy Caughman, Wendy Homeyer, Mike Hudgins, Kana Rahman, Gabriella Swearingen, Melinda Waldrop, Kim La, Ken Lowden, Kristen Loughlin and Margie Shelburg. Also great to see CRC legend Birgit Spann at the race, visiting from Germany!