Springdale 5k – Camden, SC – 9/10/22

Missed the photo op, but photoshop level expert

What happens when you combine a brutally hot summer with a long run-less vacation in July and a general lack of motivation? A wicked case of the slowsies. I realize slow/fast are relative terms. Hell, OJ Striggles probably does tempo runs at my 5k PR pace. But there’s nothing more alarming for a maniacal competitor such as myself than not racing for a while and laying a couple eggs when fall season starts. I mean, Justin Pepper and Labor Day were epic struggles and a good 30-45 seconds off what I was throwing down in the spring. My training basically depends on regular racing for speed, so I guess the only way is to race myself back into shape. Time to rebuild the machine. 

And I’ve basically always done the Springdale 5k. It started out as an insane super hot evening race in long grass on a horse track, but is now thankfully in the morning on roads. It has been a GRIT/Erin Roof event for the last few years, so nice swag and awards are a given. The horseshoe trophies are an essential part of the feng shui of my narcissistic office shrine. I must have more. Speaking of narcissism, we can’t forget the epic Blue Shoe victory of 2021. Yes, there was a misdirect. Myself, Muscledup, Nance and Eric Masaitis got off track, but luckily I heard the screams from the people behind us first, turned around and hauled ass up the final mile hill,  hell bent on the holy grail of the overall win. I’ll take it. Time to defend my title. 

I knew my chances for the repeat victory would be slim. I mean when a 190 lb 46 year old  albino sasquatch wins a race, it’s pretty much a red flag for trophy hunters all around. I knew Dr. David “don’t call me giovahny” Giovannini would be on hand, so that definitely put a wrench in my plans. We were trading off in the head-to-head last winter but apparently G’s Peloton plan is working like a charm. I haven’t been close to taking him down in months. Plus, I did Tunnel to Towers the night before, so the legs would probably be a little wrecked.

I got there my typical hour early and tried to size up the competition. Drew W was on hand and he has been on a long injury hiatus, so no idea what he might throw down. Nance was nowhere to be seen, and Muscledup continued his MIA status. I warmed up with Jen Davis and David. On the way back we saw Sara Ashton, 6 months post partum and already fresh off a Blue Shoe beat down at Justin Pepper. Ruh roh.Time to get chicked again.

At the start I knew the game plan would essentially be the same as T2T. The course profile is actually pretty similar – screaming fast mile and a half followed by a torture chamber climb back to the start. It sets up well for me since I have a hard time getting started and do well on late hills. But yeah, the last mile of this race is pretty much straight up.

The gun goes off and immediately we are all flying down the opening hill. Some kid takes the lead, presumably XC, though he looks pretty young. I feel like I’m being conservative on the pacing but somehow I’m right behind David, Sara and the kid. Jen is lurking nearby and there is some dude on my shoulder matching me step for step. The course flattens out a bit toward the mile marker and I let the overgrown monkey surge a step or two ahead. Turns out it’s Parker Roof. Dude was a beast in high school and he must be back training again. We hit the mile together in 6:02. This is pretty fast for me but more restarined than the night before when I got carried away chasing Ed , Jen and Chris Branham in a 5:54 opener. Surprisingly I don’t feel like death, which had been the main feeling of the last 3 races I’ve done, all in the past 8 days. Giovannini and Sara have surged ahead by this point. Around 1.5 miles we hit the turn from last year’s misdirect, this time extremely well marked with the incorrect route blocked with a police car. All uphill from here. I power ahead and manage to shake Parker for the first time, and I guess the kid fell off the pace too. Mile 2 is significantly slower in 6:18 but expected with the last half uphill. I do know once you hit the 2 mile mark the hill climbing gets worse. I start charging up Mount Camden as hard as I can go. There’s that death feeling! I’m closing the gap somewhat on Sara and David but it’s just not happening fast enough. At some point I just focus on finishing fast. I’m a little afraid of getting Blue Shoed by Parker, but luckily there’s a lone very vocal woman in a pickleball shirt cheering, and I can hear that Parker, or whoever is behind me, is a ways back. The end of this race has a bunch of gradual turns and every one feels like it’s the last before the finish. Fortunately I warmed up on this hill and marked one of those little free libraries as the last turn. I finally catch sight of it and engage the headless chickenry. Dr. G is not too far ahead but I have no chance to catch him. I crash through  in 19:24, 3rd across the finish line.  I’m still well off my spring times, but moving in the right direction. I’ll take it. 

In the overall, Sara Ashton smoked us all in 19:06 to take her second consecutive win. Jen Davis placed 2nd in her 5th race in 8 days. Kara Stevens rocked a sub 7 pace en route to a 3rd place finish. David Giovannini took home first male , with the Sasquatch and GRIT royal family member Parker Roof second and third. In male masters, Drew Williams, Whitney Keen and Anthony Godfrey took the podium, while Cruz Figeuroa, Sharon Cole and Melody Kreiling won among the women.

Female age groupers: Sarah Hannon won the 30-34. Catherine Sostak took  3rd in the 35-39. Deanna Rennick won her first AG glory ever in taking 2nd in the 45-49 – CONGRATS DEANNA! Wendy Homeyer won 3rd. Clara Beaudet and Gretchen Lambert went 1-2 in the 50-54. Helene Lipe was 3rd in the 65-69. Lynn Grimes won the 70+, 2nd overall by age grade!

Male age groupers: Thomas Crowley won the 35-39 in a shade over 21 minutes. Justin eyedocrunner Campbell took the 40-44. Michael Beaudet was 2nd in the 50-54, while Prez Roy Shelley, Joe Roof and Joey Swearingen provided a CRC sweep in the 55-59. Clay Ham was tops in his new 60-64 age group, crushing another 21 minute 5k, while Dave Hale was 2nd. CRC legends Alex Ponomarev, Leeds Barroll and Pete Poore swept the podium in the 70+.

Other notable finishers included Will Rowan, Phil Smith, Gabby Swearingen, Rusty Painter, Hou-Yin Chang, Nicole Charlton, Ron Lipe, and Maria Pray.

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