Tragically, my duties as official promotional cosplayer/spokesmodel for GRIT endurance were put on hold earlier this month to attend a friend’s wedding. I was aghast that he had the audacity to plan his nuptials on the same day as my annual run as the world’s largest leprechaun in Camden, leaving me in attention withdrawal for the remainder of the month. But there was always True to the Brew on March 26. Or was there? The Palmetto 200, which I have run since its inception in 2010 was the same weekend. But as it turned out, “El Capitan” Brian Clyburn finally decided to call it a day and put a fork in Van on the Run. I briefly flirted with the idea of joining another team, but sometimes my mind would drift to cold, stiff 3 am 6:50 pace runs in the pitch black dark, and I decided it was ok to let it go.
So, I was in for True to the Brew Run on the Palmetto Trail from Pomaria to Peak, it’s a trail run that’s an easy transition to the dirt for road racers, and serves to promote/support the Palmetto Conservation Foundation. Since it’s built on an old railroad bed, it’s pretty much flat as a pancake and straight as an arrow. It’s got a great finish on the picturesque old Peak railroad bridge and of course, beer at the finish, with a band and post-race food. And as always, great swag from GRIT’s mastermind Erin Roof. No 16-98 age groups here. That being said, I still have trauma from this race, detailed in the Tour de Blue shoes account of “TRUE TO THE POO” a few years ago. The day I prepared for double dipping two races less than a half hour apart, but my colon didn’t get the memo. It’s been three years, but I still wouldn’t go under bridge number 10. The remnants of unspeakable horrors might still be there.
Despite this race selling out again, I was thinking there might be trophies to be had, as there were some competing races on Tour. Race for the Cure had a 5k on the Cold Winter’s Day course in Forest Acres while the Camden Revolutionary Run had a 5k and half out there. I knew Greer was at Camden, but my other arch nemesis Giovannini would definitely be at TTTB.
Since this is a point-to-point race, there are some logistical issues with the start and finish. The best way now is just to use the drop bags and shuttles. What were 15 passenger vans are now huge charter buses, so no more waiting in line. But I still like doing the double car thing, so Tracy agreed to meet me in Peak in exchange for a ride from the finish in my old Pilot. The Pilot would definitely hold more people than the fancy Infiniti, though with the price of dealing with decade old goldfish crackers in the creases of the way back.
We got to the start line with plenty of time to spare. For me to warm up and the injured Jedi to watch Netflix under a warm blanket in her car. We all have our different race prep. I was a little nervous about my choice of wearing the VAPORS to a trail race, but like I said this course is completely non-technical and more like a straight, flat dirt road. I was of course hypersensitive to the POO situation but managed to skip the portapotty lines for the decidedly less than pristine but zero wait confines of the Wilson grocery bathroom. SHH… don’t tell anyone.
Walking up to the start there is no Shrum or any other elite-ish looking people, so the trophy forecast looks fairly bright. Do I have a shot at the holy grail? Not likely in a 10k, but the chances weren’t completely zero. Beating David would be the obvious challenge, plus these trail races can bring some out of town superfit granola dads. Also, Parker Roof and his dad Joe were on hand to actually race this year, instead of volunteer. Parker used to kick my arse on the regular when he was at Chapin HS, but he’s not running xc anymore, so maybe he could get a fat old man beatdown.
With the start, I barrel out of the gates pretty hard and I’m leading the race for the first quarter mile. I have a momentary grandiose moment until Giovannini suddenly bursts forth and leaves me in the dust. And keeps on going. Um, ok. There are two other random dudes in my vicinity. One of the guys surges ahead but the other is hanging on my back and side, riding the wake of the 18-wheeler blasting down the highway. The VAPORS seem to be fine, but since it’s soft ground, they aren’t snapping back like they do on the roads. I hit mile 1 in 6:20, so not too shabby. This course is a touch longer than 10k and I’ve never sniffed a sub 42 much less a sub 40, but I’ve been running really well recently, so I decided to trust it and hold the pace.
But it’s hard. I’ve run the course many times, but I just have trouble making out landmarks for distance. My brain is all about USATF certified course maps and splits, and this scenery and forest is more made for people named Schuster and Stroud. Plus, third place dude has gapped me quite a bit, and I can’t hear anything behind me. I’m out there blasting away for 4th place. David is in another time zone by now and I can barely see him, so that wasn’t happening. But maybe I can catch number 3, and hey, 4th place means masters will definitely be mine. I rattle off a bunch of splits right around 6:30. I’d like to go a little faster, but legs are probably heavy from my constant tennis-ing and recent 20 milers prepping for that race in Hopkinton next month. My main fear is getting Aufuldished or Parkered, but with the silence around me, I’m thinking there’s a decent gap. I don’t dare look back though. Ashley Holman is at the halfway point with her kids and I try to look pretty for her camera, but I’m sure I’ve failed as I always do. Karmic payback for too many sweaty iPhone Facebook dumps. I kind of drift of for a bit, my legs ingrained into this pace I’ve chosen and I’m too afraid to ramp it up this far from the finish. I finally break out of my fog when we hit the underpass, which I know is less than a mile to the bridge. The trail suddenly takes you down and under a road with a few sharp turns, and a nasty tiny incline back on the other side. I’ve managed to close the gap on number 3, but I’m thinking he might have heard the heavy footed sasquatch rumbling on the underpass and ensuing bridge. I try to ramp it up but he’s matching my effort pretty well. I hit mile 6 in 6:33, so not too much hemorrhaging on the underpass segment. With the bridge coming into view ahead of us, I realize I’ve run out of real estate in my attempt to catch this guy. But hopefully I can at least sub 40 it on my Garmin. One last sub 6 pace blast across the bridge and I finish in 40:39. I’m pretty happy with it, as it’s a big PR for me on the course. Garmin distance is 6.33 miles, and the best part, 39:57 for the 10k on the watch. YESSS. 4th overall, 1st masters (and actually legit this time, with no superfit 55 year old kicking my ass).
The afterparty of this race is of course amazing, with Craft and Draft serving up beers and Exec Director Mary Roe from Palmetto Conservation making fresh grilled egg/cheese sandwiches and hot dogs. They had a live band (The Biggest Wave) which awesomely and unironically played Gerry Rafferty’s 1978 classic Baker Street, complete with guitar matching the sax solo note for note. Nice work, gentlemen. Overall awards were nice yeti like drink containers and age groups got a logo beanie. I may be biased, but it was definitely another GRIT success!
In the overall, David “don’t call me geo vanni” Giovanninidestroyed me and the rest of the field en route to a 38:58 victory. Kyle Logue, last year’s winner, took 2nd in 39:19. Third place and blue shoes outkicker was Zack Fuller in 40:03.
Women’s winner was Shannon Godby, who decided to take 3 years off then take 1st masters and 1st overall in consecutive weeks. Kara Stevens was 2nd and Veronica Watson 3rd.
Masters winners included the first lady of Van on the Run, Jen Clyburn, in 1st, with her running partner Julie McKinnon 2nd and Ellen Adams third. Male masterswinners included Brendan Holman in 2nd with a big PR and Ed Aufuldish 3rd.
Women’s Age Group Honor Roll: Eva Greenberg was 1st in the 30-34. Stephanie “Stevie Dee” Dukes won the 45-49, with Brie McGrievy 2nd. Joyce Welch is getting back on the race train and took the 50-54 age group.
Men’s Age Group Honor Roll: Parker Roof took the 20-24 age group win and 5th overall. Brian Aplin trampled the weak and hurdled the dead en route to 2nd in the 30-34. Thomas Outlaw was 3rd in the 35-39. Jeff Godby and Rob Yerger were 1-2 in the 45-49. Michael Jensen was 2nd in the 50-54. Roy Shelley, Joe Roof and Frank Seier pulled a CRC sweep in the 55-59. Fellow president emeritus Rick Gibbons won the 60-64. Wade Bauer took the 65-69, while Leeds Barroll won the 70+.
Other notable finishers (with a great turnout of the RWB group) : Matt Mcgreivy, Rich Welch, Tracy Tisdale, Gretchen Lambert, Sara Wilcox, Teresa Harrington, Sue Porter, Jessalyn Smith, Dianne Steadman, Bertha Woehl, Son Nguyen, Bridgette Honor, Teresa Shelton, Michael and Clara Beaudet, Melinda Waldrop, Mackenzie Wilson, Deanna Rennick, Maria Pray, Harry Strick, Rusty Painter, and Kim La. Nikki Barthelemy and Chris Beattie competed virtually.