The True to the Brew 10k was founded in 2018, the brainchild of Erin Roof’s GRIT endurance LLC and the Palmetto Conservation Foundation to help support the Palmetto Trail. Erin originally sold it to me as a 10k trail race with beer and food at the end. Like Renee Zellweger in Jerry Macguire, “you had me at beer and food”. Plus, I generally like trail running, even occasionally joining the Harbison Trail Runners from time to time for their various excursions to ridiculously hard races in the mountains. Though this race is technically a trail, it was made from a railroad bed. This being the case, it’s essentially a road race through the forest. It’s completely flat and the terrain is pretty soft, save for some leftover gravel from the railroad. The finish is cool with a crossing of the Broad River via the old Peak trestle bridge. As noted, beer , food and music at the afterparty await. What’s not to like?
One thing I have not liked is my body hating me this year. I’ve been struggling with an Achilles issue, which, surprisingly, is not positively responding to continued running/racing and twice weekly tennis. Imagine that. Seriously, I have tried to lay off it and do things like the elliptical and cycling. I did about 2 weeks of getting up at 5:30 to go to Muv fitness, riding a machine to nowhere for an hour, all while listening to the worst radio songs of the past 30 years and George Lopez show reruns from 2006. I reached a breaking point with Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” and a closed captioned 1999 Family Matters episode. My grip on sanity was slipping. So I eased back into running. Fitness has been trash. But I was already committed to True to the Brew, so I guess this was time to dip back into the racing pool.
I will say the transport of this point-to-point race is much better now with a huge high school bus instead of the 15 passenger vans. I’m a control freak though, so I like to do the two-car strategy. Luckily, I got Yerg and Melinda to help coordinate the Blue Shoes transport. We got to the race site over an hour early and there were already quite a few people there. I knew the race sold out at 300 so there would be a decent crowd. I made use of the portapotties multiple times to avoid a potential repeat of my ill-fated “TRUE TO THE POO” incident of 2019. If you think mid-race bathroom stops are unpleasant, try balancing on a bridge support and using a creek and leaves to wash up. 0/10 do not recommend.
I did a couple of miles warmup with the puppet master Joyce Welch and Dr. Julia Ghering. Weather was pretty warm, which is nice for the afterparty but not great for racing. Plus, the skies were looking ominous. Oh yeah, and my foot felt like trash even though I had been pain- free for the past few days. Nice. With fellow age groupers Steve “Muscledup runner” Greer and Duane Kimball on board, perhaps the only award I’d be tasting was a cold IPA. I decided to give the race a solid effort but nothing crazy. Going out too hard in a 10k, especially with questionable fitness, would be pure torture.
After the obligatory start line selfie and trash talking Mark Kushinka (who I was sure would win) we were off. Not much to describe about this course. It’s flat. It’s straight. The foot felt OK at the faster speed, but it was a little soul crushing to watch Greer, Duane and Jen Davis leave me for dead. I’LL BE BACK. Hopefully. Skies opened up in the first mile and I was thinking this could be soggy misery the rest of the way. Luckily the rain backed off after a few minutes. I hit the first couple of miles right around 6:55 and I wasn’t too cashed, so I figured I’d just hold on to that. The field had completely thinned out. I could only see the number 2 female and some other dude who looked like Matt McGrievy. McGrievy has been having much worse Achilles nightmares of his own, so I knew it wasn’t him. I was pretty much on my own though. Couldn’t hear anyone behind me either, so it felt like I was out for a run by myself. Except I was most certainly not doing standard Blue Shoes slog jog pace. At some point I must’ve drifted off into the dark world of my internal self, because I hit mile 4 in over seven-minute pace. I contributed an F bomb into the silent forest, and the sky paid me back with 1984 Eurythmics HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN. More F bombs. I recovered some to get back to the 6:50s for mile 5 but apparently my elliptical jockeying was not a perfect substitute for racing and I’m starting to hurt a bit cardio wise, even if it is less than my half marathon pace. I try to throw down a good last mile, but there’s one twist to the course under an overpass with a steep incline on the other side. No way was I going to trash my Achilles surging up this little hill. I did an incredibly awkward half jog-power walk up that bit before struggling to get my 18-wheeler physique up to speed again. And number 2 female was really hauling now, and though I thought I could catch Faux McGrievy, it looked like he might be gapping me too. By the time I hit the bridge, I went into cruise mode and decided to be happy with finishing and having an intact tendon in my foot. Crossed in 44:06, surprised to pull off 10th overall, 2nd masters (since Greer finished 2nd OA). It’s 3.5 minutes slower than last year, but I’m just glad to be outside and avoiding the early morning vortex of misery at muv. Craft and Draft had a beer truck with free Palmetto trail IPA and Bad Water band had a set list straight out of my college CD tower. Awesome.
In the overall, Dr. Kushinka took the win in 38:29, with Greer second in a sub 40 time, and Kyle Logue third. In the women’s race, Jen Davis won in 41:58 with Marcie Jorgensen taking down the Blue Shoes for 2nd. Katie Hirsch was third. Duane Kimball captured male masters , while female masters came down to Kathy Voige nipping Heather Hugg by 2 seconds to take the win.
Female age groupers: Ryan Welch was champ of the 11-14. Hannah Williams was 2nd in the 15-19. Julia Ghering took 2nd in the 25-29, just 3 seconds behind winner Shannon Livezey. Kelsey Cameron was 3rd in the 30-34. Julie McKinnon was champ of the 45-49. Joyce Welch won the 50-54 with Dana Kaminer 3rd. Kelly Denias was 3rd in the 55-59. Lisa Powell was champ of the 60-64.
Male age groupers: Liam Patangan won the 14 and under with Eliot Oates 3rd. David Giovannini took the 35-39 with Thomas Crowley third. Adding to my shame, Faux McGrievy is listed as “anonymous participant”. One can never underestimate the security risks posed by running a 43-minute 10k. YERG finished 3rd in the 45-49, apparently with the exact same time as 2ndplace Sam Cullum. Should’ve leaned at the tape, Rob. Tab Blakely won the 50-54. Fifty-stater and fellow CRC president emeritus Rick Gibbons was 3rd in the 60-64. Harry Strick was 2nd in the 65-69. Leeds Barroll and Pete Poore were 2-3 in the 70-74, while Ron Hagell won the 75+.
Other notable finishers: Thomas Outlaw, Actual Matt McGrievy, Brie McGrievy, Marian Nanney, Stevie Dee Dukes, Kana Rahman, Gretchen Lambert, Teresa Harrington, Michael and Clara Beaudet, Teresa Shelton, Deanna Rennick, Melinda Waldrop, Maria Pray, Missy Caughman and Dianne Steadman.