True to the Brew 10k – Pomaria to Peak, SC – 3/25/23

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. 

Lucky Leprechaun 5k – Camden, SC – 3/4/23

The Lucky Leprechaun 5k has been the lead off to the start of the Irish Fest in Camden since 2018, when it was founded to honor the birthday of a local elite Irish-American athlete, Alex “Blue Shoes” McDonald. JAt least that’s my memory of it – it may have been a coincidence. Either way, I got to indulge in my cosplay fixation with my favorite character yet, the leprechaun. Leprechauns are known for their diminutive size and general cuteness, though I am certainly lacking in both these departments. The inaugural run of the leprechaun went off without a hitch, except maybe for the unexpected transparency of green velour. Erin Roof encouraged a crowd of unwitting Camdenites to sing Happy Birthday to me, probably wondering a) who the hell this guy is and b) why is he such a insufferable egomaniac and attention whore. Questions I struggle with myself. But it was fun and I didn’t miss a race since.

 Until… one of my college friends got married on March 5, 2022. The nerve of him planning a wedding on Leprechaun weekend! Oh well, I promised Erin I’d be back. Though this year I briefly flirted again with the idea of running Myrtle Beach for the first time. My long run team of Silent H and Joyce were doing it, so there was definitely FOMO and peer pressure involved. Luckily my Achilles decided to weigh in on that decision and become a nagging nightmare for most of February. Blasting out the Buffalo 5k, Long Run 15k and the Dam to Dam relay didn’t help. But no way would I be able to muster a marathon with this injury. I was already committed to the Leprechaun so I figured I could at least slog jog it out if I had to.

So, I showed up to Camden on Saturday with no real plan, other than to try and keep all my tendons intact. I did a warm up with Kara, Clay and Thomas Crowley and realized it was ridiculously hot this year, especially in a thick green topcoat and hat. I really, seriously, toyed with running this thing at my daily run 9-minute pace. But who am I kidding? If I’m wearing a bib there’s going to be some effort involved. And I was already wearing my Vapors , if even for their leprechaun-ish aesthetic.

Pretty big field for this one, which was surprising, given the competition with 3 other tour races and the MB half/full marathon. Erin said there were 400+ registered. Sarah and Eric Allers came down from Fort Mill, and CRC regulars Regan Freeman, Steve Greer, Julia Ghering, Patrick Hall , Melody Kreiling, Ron Hagell, Pete Poore, Drew Dickerson, Shannon Godby,  Phil Smith and Coach B were on hand. Erin’s son Parker, who was epically blue shoed in 2021, was back for revenge.

The course is a simple rectangle in Camden. Fairly flat, but a long gradual uphill on the 1.5 miles out and the opposite on the way back. Mile 3, if you have anything left, is blazing fast.

With the start, I take off awkwardly on my right leg and ease into a brisk pace. Everything feels OK at the start, though I can definitely feel that tightness in the left Achilles when we start the turn uphill. I’m lingering back in the crowd and it hurts my pride not to give Regan and Steve a good showdown, especially because they are leading. Oh well, just don’t rip anything. I manage to slowly increase the pace in mile 1 and hit it in 6:44, about 30-40 seconds off my non-costumed, uninjured self. After mile 1 I ramp it up some more and there’s this kid who is hanging on to my shoulder, resisting the pass. Little does he know, a few of my favorite things are buffalo wings, Asheville breweries and crushing the souls of high school cross country kids.

We hit the turnaround and start the plummet down towards the finish. Kid is still hanging on for dear life, but he has underestimated the power of my ego, my training, and potential energy of a 190 pound boulder rolling downhill. Mile 2 is slightly quicker in 6:33. By this time the Achilles has loosened up and I’m hopped up on adrenaline anyway, so out comes the real 5k pace. Kid finally gets dropped and I’m running all alone. Greer and Regan are in another zip code but I’ll at least throw down a decent finish to maybe grab some masters or age group glory. As noted, Mile 3 is pretty much all downhill. Last split hits at 6:08 and I’m pretty gassed. One more surge, a very poor attempt at a pic pose on the last turn, and a brief headless chicken only to see the clock flip over to 20. Finished in 20:05 gun/20:03 chip. Good enough for 6th overall, 2nd masters behind Muscledup.  A far cry from the 19:03 of 2021, but considering the circumstances, I’ll take it.

There was green beer and nice pint glasses and growlers for awards. Ron Hagell paid a nice tribute to our late Patti Lowden and uncovered the new GRIT “Podium Patti” podium. It was definitely a good day for a good day.

 Overall winners:  Regan Freeman took first, edging out masters beast Steve “Muscledup runner” Greer in a blazing sub 19 showdown. Parker Roof redeemed himself for third. Really proud of my other Sunday long run partner Shannon Godby, taking the win in a comeback during a tough last few months. Kara Stevens continues to get faster and faster, clocking a 20:50 for another PR and 2nd place. The ageless Sarah Allers took 3rd.  Masters winners were Muscledup, some oversized leprechaun and Coach B among the men, as well as Melody Kreiling, Angela Brewbaker and Kristin Wallace among the women.

Female age groupers: Dr. Julia Ghering won the 25-29. Clara Beaudet took the 50-54. Bertha Woehl won the 55-59. Mary Cassidy was champ of the 65-69 with a PR!

Male age groupers: Thomas Crowley won the 35-39, with Thomas Outlaw 2nd. Patrick Hall took 3rd in the 45-49. Eric Allers was champ of the 50-54, with newly 50-year-old Drew Dickerson taking third. Camden XC coach Mark Chickering took the 55-59. Clay Ham and Phil Smith were 1st and 3rd in the 60-64. George Cassidy and Pete Poore went 1-2 in the 70-74. Rich Wright and Ron Hagell were 1-2 in the 75+.

Notable finishers: April Joyner, Deanna Rennick, Maria Pray, Michael Beaudet, Craig Campbell, Jennifer and Jason Norris, and Kara Clyburn.

Shandon Turkey Trot And Burn 5k – Columbia, SC- 11/25/22

The Shandon Turkey Trot is one of the oldest road races in the state. I’m not sure of the exact start , but the 2009 results say it was the 32nd annual race, so probably over 40 years. While it used to be a huge event, the numbers started dropping off in the past decade with all the Thanksgiving competition. Luckily the Shandon neighborhood council sought out the help of Erin Roof and GRIT in 2019, who rebranded the race, changed the date to Black Friday and converted a double loop 8k course into a flat and fast 5k. The result has been a revival of the race, with over 500 registrants this year.

And one of them is THE TURKEY. I mean, if there’s a costume contest, I’m in. And while some people are content on accepting the limitations of a ridiculous bulky outfit, I assure you I am not. I mean, this is CRC points crunch time. But of all the Blue Shoe costumes, this is definitely the most challenging. Giant plush belly, huge wings and a big floppy tail. Not exactly aerodynamic. Add a turkey face hood with a gobbler and the thing is just hideous. The only good thing is one giant hole for your legs, so you can pull it up like a skirt when you run. So sexy.

And of course the only thing better than a standard blue shoeing is a blue shoeing in an absurd giant turkey costume. And while I cherish the avian beatdown I gave Regan last year, my favorite was an all out sprint on Woodrow street in 2019 to take down some then-unknown elite looking female. She turned out to be Jessa Wigington. Yeah, we’ll get back to that.

Fast forward to this year, and I am feeling pretty beat. Double dip on Saturday, an IPA-fueled Sleigh Bell 4 miler on Monday, and an all-out effort on Thanksgiving trying to scrounge some points against high schoolers. But at least I was primed for speed. I mean weekdays are usually for my slog jogs. I showed up an hour early and it’s kinda gross out. There had been some rain and it felt like 60s and humid. I didn’t even warm up in the suit, fearing it would get wet, and did a mile or so with H, Shannon and a surprise appearance from Code Brown (though he wasn’t racing).

Nice crowd on hand for this one at the start. A ton of CRCers. Thankfully the rain held off. I had no real plan on this one but to give it as much effort as I had left. With the gun, I try to go hard but my legs are pretty wrecked. I’m still feeling all the pain from yesterday’s mini cross country meet, and somehow I forgot to tack my tail up to my back, so I’m hitting it with my feet at every step. Brendan Holman has decided to latch on to my right wing, and I know he’s looking to give me that elusive first beat down. I push it a bit on the turn on Heyward to find some open running room. I “fly” to a 6:08 first mile, though I actually had no idea of my pace at the time thanks to my wings covering my watch. Mile 2 has the only real hills on the course, just the standard Shandon bumps up near Bonham street. I’ve managed to catch up to Parker Roof, and he is clearly not happy about it. He starts blocking and weaving, desperately fighting off the shame. But shaming our younger generations is what I live for. I get on his right shoulder, then quickly drop back behind him and haul tail up on the left side like Marshawn Lloyd. YES. There’s a long stretch on Wilmot and I can see a woman and a younger tatted dude just ahead. I hear the mile 2 beep (6:22) and start engaging whatever is left for a Blue Shoe kick.  I pass the woman and pull up alongside tat guy. As it turns out he isn’t too fond of getting turkeyed either, asking me my usual 5k time. I ramp it up a bit to drop him and turn back on to Heyward. Way up ahead is Jessa. Well at least she isn’t getting turkeyed this time. …OR IS SHE? Halfway down Heyward and I’ve been totally focused on holding off the two behind me. All of a sudden I wake up and realize the Jessa gap has shrunk considerably. Probably still too far ahead but I have to go hard anyway because I can occasionally still hear noises behind me. Finally we hit Woodrow street. Way off in the distance you can see the finish, but it’s probably about a third of a mile or more. But with the finish arch as my carrot on a string, I go all in. And hold the phone, Jessa is starting to fade. With blood in the water, I go full headless turkey, feeling the velcro coming loose on my back and plush belly bouncing up and down like a poorly supported gut bra. I blast ahead and manage to pass Jessa with less than 2 blocks to go. I crash through the finish in 19:10, first masters and a costume PR! To Mrs. Wigington, I am so sorry. I can’t help it – I have a problem. On the other hand, Tracy was able to catch the whole thing on video, for which I am eternally grateful. 

In the overall, David Olds took the win over Dr. Mark Kushinka, with Durham’s Brandt Boggs third. Mrs. Wigington took solace in the turkey incident by claiming first among the women, followed closely by Lugoff-elgin xc coach Sierra Oliphant and Ashley Holman. The turkey took first masters with Brendan Holman and Ed Aufuldish right on my tail feather. Durham’s Devanise Vitti took first female masters, with Shannon Godby 2nd. Birgit Spann, visiting from Germany, took 3rd. Her 83 percent age grade was tops in the entire field!

Female age groupers: Evelyn Holman won the 10 and under in a blazing 23:55. Sister Lily took 2nd in the 11-14 in 23:43. Julia Ghering was 2nd in the 25-29, completing her 4th race in 6 days. Kara Stevens edged Lindsey Hendren for tops in the 30-34, just over 21 minutes. Ronda Sanders was 3rd in the 40-44, while Stevie Dee did the same in the 45-49. Heather Hawn was 2nd in the 50-54. Berha Woehl was 2nd in the 55-59. Melody Kreiling , racing in her 45th race of the year, won the 60-64, with Teresa Harrington 2nd. Carol Wallace blazed a 25 minute 5k, 2nd overall age graded time, to take the 65-69, with longtime CRCers Sue Porter and Cheryl Outlaw 2nd and 3rd. Lynn Grimes took 1st in the 70-74 with Brigitte Smith 2nd.

Male age groupers: Parker Roof finished 2nd in the 20-24. Regan Freeman absolutely crushed an 18:10 for first in the 25-29 and a new PR. Luke Freshour, aka tat guy, finished 2nd. It turns out he’s Ed’s nephew. Should have given him an elbow. Ross Wigington got dragged out to run by the missus and still claimed 3rd in the 30-34. Well done. Rob Yerger, in full Santa costume, held off our Ville to Ville teammate Michael Beets for 2nd and 3rd in the 45-49. Silent H won first in the 50-54. Roy Shelley and Rich Weiner finished 1-2 in the 55-59. Dave Hale pushed da run to win the 60-64, with Phil Smith 3rd. Pete O’Boyle dominated the 65-69 by eleven minutes , with Thomas Outlaw third. Alex Ponomarev was third in a competitive 70-74. Ron Hagell was 2nd in the 75+.  Ken Lowden was third and ran with a bib in memory of our late Podium Patti Lowden.

Other notable finishers included: Patrick Hall, Thomas Outlaw, Jr., Antjuan Seawright, Joey and Gabby Swearingen, Phil Togneri, Michael and Clara Beaudet (Clara with the much nicer turkey costume), Kurt Hamm, Missy Caughman, Sophia Homeyer, Gretachen Lambert, Deanna Renick, Jessalyn smith, Maria Pray, Brian Hawn, Melinda Waldrop, Kelly Hynes, Paul Laymon, Lisa Smarr, Jennifer Glass, Leeds Barroll, Pete Poore, Kari and Howard McKeone, and Margie Shelburg.

Run Hard Turkey Day 5k – Lexington, SC – 11/24/22

Thanksgiving Day has always been the day of the Boys and Girls Club Turkey Day race , but to my Sunday slog jog partner Randy “Silent H” Hrechko, it’s the day of his ceremonial long run through the Soda City, known as the Thanksgiving Day Ground Pound. Even through COVID, he’s kept up the Ground Pound streak for over the past decade. But with the end of the year rapidly approaching, the CRC pointmongering reaches a fever pitch. And while I’m perpetually trophy hunting, H is usually pretty low key about it. But I knew he was having severe point anxiety when he discussed a) ditching the ground pound this year and b) going out to Lexington to trophy hunt. Clearly he’s spent way too much time near my insanity.

So we hatched the top secret plan to run Lexington, because the first rule of trophy hunting is do not talk about trophy hunting. While Jesse Harmon had done some Thanksgiving races before, this was the first incarnation of this race, the Run Hard Turkey Day 5k. The course was a new one, but it’s apparently the Lexington High cross country route, essentially 2 loops of the perimeter of campus. I briefly flirted with the idea of a very tight double dip with the BGCM race, but decided the logistics and potential speeding ticket made it too risky. Nevertheless, the notorious HYC managed to pull the double, albeit with his typical start line tardiness.

But with Lexington, the hope was a trophy hunt. Thanksgiving is always a crap shoot in that department, with relatives visiting and all. You never know when somebody’s super fit 45 year old xc coach uncle is going to show up and crush your dreams. Speaking of crap shoots, H and I showed up so early they didn’t have the usual stadium bathrooms open yet. We were able to find a random unlocked women’s room near the track and unspeakable horrors were released in there. What’s worse was the 12 year old girl meeting us at the door as we left. She’ll have nightmares for sure. Sorry.

We did a warmup loop around campus and found the course to be not too bad. Plenty of momentum sucking grass and a couple of hills, but definitely better than the River Bluff HS roller coaster. We get back to the start with less than 10 minutes until the gun,  and the Blue Shoes colon decides there’s an encore to the first performance. Let’s just say I got some speedwork in right before the race. When I do make it back with only a few minutes to spare, I realize there’s a problem. While all the potential CRC studs are AWOL, there’s KIDS. Like lean, singlet wearing , arm sleeve dudes that probably run my 5k pace on a daily slog jog. GAH. How am I going to get overall points against guys 50 pounds lighter and 30 years my junior. There’s even a 30ish guy there looking all elite. I told Randy this was going to be a waste of time. Of course he’s going for masters/grandmasters so he couldn’t care less. Not too many CRCers, though Jared Franklin, Melody Kreiling , Rick Gibbons, Sara/Dorothy/Scarlett Huchins and HYC were on hand.

The start of this thing is madness. All the fast kids go tearing off the blocks and leaving me for dead. I’m trying to go hard but this is also by 4th race in 6 days. I’ve got the vapors on, but they’re not much help on the soft grass. At least it stopped raining just before the start. You cross the football field , run on some bumpy terrain and then thankfully get dumped out on the paved road running through the Lexington campus. I try to speed it up on the road to make up time but it’s pretty demoralizing getting smoked by all the fast dudes. I focus on chasing who I think is Jared Franklin (same red shirt and black calf sleeves) , and the middle schoolish kid next to him. Jared had said he wasn’t in the best of shape but he seems to be killing it. After the road stretch is a nasty long uphill on the grass into the wind, totally sucking any momentum. Though thanks to hulk quads I manage to make up some ground on the field. As the first lap approaches I pass “Jared” and realize he’s not Jared at all (actually Rich Mizell). Middle schooler also gets passed by the middle-ager. I’m blasting away along the front of the school when Joyce, ever the motivator, screams at me “HA HA YOU PICKED THE WRONG RACE”. Well, she wasn’t wrong.

I manage to pick up a second wind on the second loop. I can see Jesse Oates way up ahead but no way am I catching him. I essentially run the rest of the race alone, except having to do a little dodging of the back of the pack walkers. I figured it would be poor form to run over a kid doing his first race. I’m pretty much toast when I hit the start line for the second time , but it’s all downhill from there. I haven’t even looked at my garmin, figuring this course to be really slow with all the grass.The last bit goes around the football stadium and finishes on the field. I make out some 19s on the clock and blast it out to make sure I don’t get blue shoed. Finished at 19:32. Of course the first thing I do is badger Jesse about my place. 7th overall! So not a complete disaster. Glad to get anything with that field. What’s better were the awards – full size pies for overall and masters and individual sized ones for age groups. Very nice. 

Overall: 30 year old Drew Harris crushed a 16:03 to take the win over Sol Shafer in 16:14. Thomas Sutcliffe got 3rd in 17:04. Women’s overall was won by two 12 year olds, listed as S. Potts and K . Murray in the results, Natalie Walke took 3rd. Women’s masters was Wendy Hart/Jennifer Conrick/Melanie Jackson and Jodi McFarland. They all crossed the line together. I assure you that would never happen in the guys’ division. Randy and I took the top 2 men’s masters with Brandon Koehler third.

Age groups: Jesse Oates won the 15-19 while Campbell Cox took the 20-24. Jared won the 35-39. Amanda Wardlaw was 2nd in the 45-49. Tab Blakely won the 50-54. Melody Kreiling won the 60-64 by 11 minutes. Other notable finishers were Ryan and Jay Welch.

Nightmare in Elmwood 5k – 10/29/22 – Columbia, SC

The Nightmare in Elmwood 5k is a completely new 5k, the brainchild of Erin Roof/GRIT and the Elmwood Park neighborhood. I’m always a fan of the swag-tastic GRIT races, but this one provided another costume opportunity and was scheduled so you could double or even triple dip CRC races in one day. Plus, the race course was essentially on my “home field”. I don’t live in the neighborhood, but Elmwood is one of the regular Blue Shoes afternoon downtown slog jog routes and the site of an unexpected Sasquatch win in the Tame the Beast 12k in 2018. I was definitely in.

I had debated being sensible and making this my only race on Saturday. But who am I kidding? My insatiable lust for CRC points and severe case of FOMO made it virtually impossible to resist a triple dip. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Elmwood was number 2 on the docket, sandwiched between two potential trophy hunts at Go Leo Go at 8:30 and RCRC Great Pumpkin at 4:00. 

I saw the course map and decided to preview the route on Thursday. In my mind, it was a flat course, figuring it stayed on top of the hill on which Elmwood Park sits. …And I would be wrong. It actually takes you down almost to the bottom of the Park St roller coaster and turns on Confederate, then essentially has you run back up on a parallel street (Lincoln). Oh man, this was going to be rough, especially repeating it at the end on the out-and-back route. However, the rest of the course was relatively flat and fast, especially the Vista greenway section. And I’m going to assume Elmwood had some kind of Halloween house decorating contest because these people went all out. Perfect for the race.

After throwing down a hard 5k at Leo, and getting brutally strollered and double chicked in the process,  I was a sweaty mess by the time I got to Elmwood. I had chosen a costume both great for running and appropriate for my ego, entitled “HE’S A GOD ” by a company called “Dreamguy”. Not entirely sure whether this Greek god outfit was meant for a straight dude. It was somewhat lame by my cosplay standards, but it was virtually no hindrance to racing. Plus, I wasn’t going to run in my heavy, hot Bridgerton Duke costume picked out by Mrs. Blue Shoes. As you can tell,  I was completely losing my man card this Halloween. 

After a destruction of the Victory Church bathroom, I scoped out the competition at the start. I knew Regan Freeman was on board already. I step up to the line and here comes “Trackstar” Eddie Crisanto. The only race I’ve ever beaten him in is the Beer Mile. And that’s because he puked. He tells me he’s doing RCRC too. Total trophy crasher! Oh well, hopefully I could still score some points.

The gun goes off and my legs feel like complete, absolute trash. I’m getting swarmed from the get-go and getting passed left and right. Instead of flying down the opening hill on Park, I’m finding myself braking and tearing up my quads trying to reduce the pounding. Dr. Kushinka is crushing the field already, and Eddie and some other guy I don’t recognize aren’t too far behind. Regan is by himself, then a big group with me and Yerg , Parker, Jen Davis and an unknown woman in a Cinderella costume. Oh no, I can’t let someone else take the fastest costume. The slog up Lincoln is no joke but at least it’s short. It takes all the way until the Elmwood cemetery rd before I finally feel a little better. The course flattens out and the first turnaround, appropriately, is right at the cemetery gates. Mile 1 just before the cone in 6:40. Yikes, this is about 30-40 seconds off from my usual. I try to ramp it up a bit and finally take down Cinderella, but she is still looking strong. I can’t let her be the belle of the ball, because obviously that’s me. Looking ahead on the greenway, I can see Regan, and it looks like he’s all aboard the struggle bus. PERFECT. The second turnaround is on Finley Park,and I pull a NASCAR maneuver like a runaway city bus, passing Mr. Freeman on the outside. There’s a mob scene behind me so I better put it into high gear. Mile 2 in 6:15 on the way back on the Greenway. It’s cool to see everyone in this out and back section. Huge CRC turnout! I’m getting pretty gassed by this point but I know I’ll need some in the tank for that last hill. I think I’ve gapped the rest of the field but I keep having hallucinations of other runners thanks to the wind whipping through my toga dress and sash. So manly. I bottom out on Confederate avenue and take the left on Park. Sweet Jesus this is steep. Short, thankfully, but really steep. As I power up this hill I can see Eddie up ahead. I’m not going to catch him, but hopefully I can salvage a sub 20 after that opening mile. At the top it’s flat again and I am just toast. One last turn into Bryan St and I go HAM to the finish, crossing in 19:44. Standard Blue Shoes collapse, trying to not look too ridiculous, as I know Erin is directing the photog to document the sweaty cosplay mess on the pavement. 4th overall, first masters,and most importantly, first costume. I’ll take it. Took home a nice basket of Riverbanks swag and a cool skull trophy. Great race!

Overall: Marc Kushinka left everyone for dead  in 17:17 , while Codie Pickett from Moncks Corner was 2nd. Eddie got third. Jen Davis was able to track down Cinderella (Andrea McCracken from Raleigh) for the top two women’s slots, while Shannon Godby was 3rd female/1st masters. Nikki Barthelemy and Joyce Welch completed the masters podium for the women, while Rob THE YERG Yerger and Prez Roy Shelley went 2-3 for the men.

Female age group: Ryan Welch won the girls 10 and under, while Sabine McGrievy was 2nd in the 11-14. Sophia Homeyer was 2nd in the 15-19 . Jessie Weaver ran in full Mandalorian costume and still took 2nd in 25-29. This is the way. Janie Campbell was 2nd in the 30-34. Brie McGrievy and Stevie Dee Dukes were 2-3 in the 45-49. Dana Kaminer, Missy Caughman and a completely unrecognizable Clara Beaudet swept the 50-54 podium. Bertha Woehl and Tee Coker were first and third in the 55-59. Melody Kreiling was champ of the 60-64, with Regina Kelly 2nd. Eileen Korpita won the 65-69. Lynn Grimes and Brigitte Smith were 1-2 in the 70-74.

Male age Group: Liam Patangan blazed a 21:38 to take the 10 and under boys, with Oliver Oates 2nd. Parker Roof was tops in the 20-24. Regan won the 25-29 while Brian Aplin was 2nd in the 30-34. Micah Simonsen was champ of the 45-49 in his comeback race! John Sherrer won the 50-54, with Michael Beaudet 3rd. Joey Swearingen and Kurt Hamm went 1-2 in the 55-59. Dave Hale PUSHED DA RUN to 1st in the 60-64. Pete O’Boyle crushed the 65-69 in 23:28 with Harry Strick 3rd. Leeds Barroll and Pete Poore went-12 in the 70-74, while Ron Hagell and Ken Lowden did the same in the 75+

Other finishers included: Ian Loughlin, Michael and Kate Ferlauto, Michael Jensen, Regina Kelly, Will Rowan, Teresa Shelton, Deanna Rennick, Gabby Swearignen, Jennifer Glass, Melinda Waldrop, Quentin McGrievy, Maria Pray, Chateau Mangaroo, Laura Howell, Heather and Brian Hawn, Bridgette Honor, Rachel Trott, Tony Claremont, Samantha Horsley, Margie Shelburg, Sue Weaver and Kristin Laughlin.

Blue Shoe Creeper – Shandon – 10/26/22

Anyone who knows my training regimen knows my headless chicken Saturday morning efforts are the product of relentless daily afternoon slog jogs through the Soda City. I am continually amazed by those of you that throw down tempos and speed sessions during the week, while I’m out there loping along to mid 90s alternarock getting passed by hobby joggers. 

But there’s one exception… Strava segments.

Like little invisible dangling carrots, segments stoke my raging competitive narcissism and I can’t help but throw down every now and then to get on the leaderboard. I too am the author of a few segments, including the infamous MOUNT LYNHAVEN , which gets my vote for worst hill in the Columbia area (with consideration for Henderson St as well). But what about a segment named after me?

A couple of months ago, I was so eager to check out Drew and Tracy’s potential new house on Heyward St that I decided to run over there from the Y and take a look. It was already under contract though they were having work done on it. Somehow that led me to believe that it was unoccupied. I was wrong. A sweaty Sasquatch made his way all the way to the backyard before seeing a car and some kid’s toys. Total panic. My mind immediately filled with images of being the next perp on OPLive, with 250 lb muscle-beast Deputy Garo Brown tackling me in the middle of Shandon for trespassing. I feel like that would be hard to explain to the SC medical board. In any event, Tracy decided to christen the two blocks (0.18 miles) in front of the new house as the “BLUE SHOE CREEPER” segment.

And if you’re going to have a segment named after you, then you should probably be its champion, right? One problem. Strava segment leaderboards automatically populate with previous runs. A certain Eric Westog, who crushed the Run for the Saints 5k in 4:50 something pace, held the Creeper record – an even 1:00. I tried twice to take it down in the late summer heat, after a few miles. No dice. Like 1:03, 1:04. So close,  yet so far away. I made it my mission to take down the record, and the Blue Shoes SUB 1 (minute) project was born.

After a few weeks of my empty promises to race it, Tracy and Drew moved in and agreed to stage an official photodocumented attempt. I would come down there, in my VAPORS, fresh legs, cooler weather, with traffic control (yeah, we’ll get back to that) and of course plenty of pics and a celebratory beer. I guess it was time to get off the pot.

I showed up around 4 and was ridiculously nervous for something that absolutely, positively, had no bearing on anything whatsoever. Somehow I had worked this thing up to be a metaphor of my total value as a runner. Seems logical, right? I warmed up for about 2 miles around Shandon and felt like trash. This was going to suck. 

Finally we set it up. Simple straight route on Heyward from Woodrow to Queen. Tracy at the finish for pics and Drew at King Street to avoid me getting T boned at the intersection. I strolled down to Woodrow, and figured I’d give myself about 10 meters for the Blue shoes bus to get rolling into the start. I waited for the light to turn green and just blasted out of the gate. My first sensation, other than my hat wanting to fly off my head, was that I was most certainly every bit of 47 years old. All achy from my slog jog miles and not used to ever approaching this kind of speed, not even on race day. First block seemed OK. Drew was there filming at King Street and no cars were there. Unfortunately I had a sense I was being tailed by one but I don’t dare look back at sprint speed, since I’d probably end up eating pavement. Second block was another story. First, my legs started bathing in the lactic acid of the first 200 meters. Second, there was a car waiting to pull out of the Heyward St United Methodist church. I have run past that church perhaps hundreds of times in the past decade plus. Number of cars pulling out: ZERO. But this woman picked this particular moment to potentially destroy the dream of the SUB 1. Perhaps it was the car behind me, but more likely the absolutely terrifying scene of a runaway freight train of a man that gave her pause. As I blasted by her, three teens were mocking me on the sidewalk, Drew and Tracy were screaming at me, and there were possibly other cars involved too. It was a complete scene, probably going to end up on the Shandon Nextdoor site. The last ten meters were pretty much torture, the legs turning to stone and my pace plummeting. I crashed through the “finish” as hard as I could and ran over a bit to make sure it captured the segment. Legs and lungs were absolutely on fire. I immediately saved the run and it seemingly took forever to upload to Garmin/Strava. Please…please..please… BEEP . I saw the run pop up with a golden crown and 57 SECONDS. Wooooooooooo! PROJECT SUB 1 COMPLETE.

I was pathetically happy with this. I’m embarrassed to say it made my week. It may be broken by the time you read this, but for now, I am the BLUE SHOE CREEPER CHAMPION. Thanks so much to Tracy and Drew for the support, photodocumentation and of course the celebratory beer.


Ray Tanner 5k – Columbia, SC – 10/15/22

The Ray Tanner Home Run 5k/12k has been a staple of the Columbia area racing scene since 2005, initially held at the old Sarge Frye field and later migrating to its current spot at Founders Field. Tanner was the architect of the Gamecocks College World Series championships  in 2010 and 2011, and he now serves as USC’s athletic director.The race goes to fund his foundation, which helps economically and medically disadvantaged kids and their families in Columbia. 

But let’s focus on the real issue here: CRC POINTS. As a diehard CRCer and trophy hunter, I pride myself on using my encyclopedic knowledge of the Columbia road racing scene for the past 15 years to do the mental calculus to maximize my points. This, however, was an epic fail. 

I chose the 5k, as it is definitely the “undercard” and the winning time in the past has been as high as 20 minutes. The 12k has historically been brutally competitive, with elites from all over the state throwing down some blazing times. That’s why we gave the race double points during the McDonald administration. Even with the double pointed 12k, I figured my chances at top 10 were not great. I placed 6th or something last year but I figured it was just the smaller crowds post covid. Sounds logical, right? 

However, I’ve always done the 12k in the past because the course is cool (designed by our own Ken Lowden, also former Ray Tanner race director) , the distance unique,  and it’s one of Columbia’s signature races. So I waited and agonized over the choice, but finally just pulled the trigger on the 5k. Contrary to the tough 12k route, the 5k looked pretty “flat and fast”.  My inside sources told me Dimery and Giovannini were signed up, but hopefully I could finish not too far behind Dr. G. 

I showed up my customary hour early and did my typical nuclear destruction of the parking lot portapotties. I can’t deal with the performance pressure of the more popular inside bathrooms. I didn’t see an official race photographer so I decided to Sweaty Iphone the 12k start. The 12k has a one mile lap at the start so you can see the very beginning and about ¾ of a mile in. I didn’t really notice the field until the second time they came around. Shrum was out in front, and then a whole pack of the top women, and then Roy and Ed. DAMMIT. Not that the Prez and Fast Eddie aren’t fast, but they are mere mortals like myself. No Kenyans, no elites outside of Shrum. So many missed points. Oh well.

Lining up for the 5k got me even more depressed. Regan and Branham were on board and there was even a rare Jeff Brandenburg appearance. I was already catastrophizing about getting beat by all these guys. And these were the known factors. Some super fast looking kid was at the line as well. Also, some team of little kids in neon orange showed up and all of them crowded the start line. Luckily their coach had them step to the side a bit, but between 15 elementary schoolers and Jeff’s dog, this start was going to be nuts. Sure enough, as soon as honorary starter Aliyah Boston said the word, everyone took off like a bat out of hell. I stiff armed some little dude, jumped off to the side and found a seam like Marcus Lattimore circa 2010. 

After blasting out of the start to avoid trampling schoolkids, we settled down as we crossed the Blossom st bridge. At this time you start weaving into the midpack 12k field, so it can get a little dicey. Luckily it was fairly thinned out so not too much dodging. Dimery and the fast kid were already in a different area code. Regan and G were about 10 meters ahead and Branham was riding my shoulder. Crossing the bridge to State Street is the main incline of the 5k course, which is barely a bump compared to the brutal B avenue and overpass climbs of the 12k route. We basically maintained this position through the mile 1 mark, which is just after you turn on State,  6:11 split. State Street features the Inspiration Station, which now honors both Leona Lavallee (a big part of the Columbia running community who passed away in 2009) and the late legendary Patti Lowden. It’s always nice to see the band and cheering at the station, even more when you get to bypass the B avenue mountain!  Chris is still on my back like an oversized monkey at this point, and I can see Regan jabbering away at Giovannini up ahead, exacting his psychological torture. We hit the Gervais st bridge just over the halfway point and now it’s mostly just us and what appears to be Ivanka from the 12k on the course. I’m finally able to drop Branham at this point, though I’m not confident I won’t see him again. And of course I’m deathly afraid of getting Brandenburged. I try and just maintain pace and hit mile 2 at the end of the bridge in a 6:06 split. Mile 3 has the other hill, which essentially is a little bump on Gist street and another rise on Huger. I knew it’s all downhill and flat from there to the finish in the stadium. As I start the Gist hill, I see blood in the water. Regan has started to fade. It’s probably too early to really kick it  but I at least throw down a bit harder on the incline. Sure enough, I manage to pull alongside Regan on Huger and he says he’s gassed. I want to believe him but I’m not sure. As I start the plunge down Huger I can see Dr.G not too far ahead. I try and ramp it up but the Regan pass on the incline has taken its toll. G kicks it in and I can tell I’m not going to catch him. As I blast into the stadium, I can make out mid 18s on the clock. It’s going to be close. One more headless chicken effort to home plate and I don’t even look at the clock, doing a semi HYC style collapse into the artificial turf. I know Strictly tends to round up their times if it’s even a touch over the second recorded, so I have no idea if I got a sub 19. I get my ticket printed out and it’s official: 18:58.98 YESS. 4th overall. So not happy missing out on the 12k pointapalooza, but I am happy with the 5k time and place. 

I should note the 12k was an unexpected trophy hunt for the MEN ONLY. The women’s field was definitely stacked. Sara Ashton took the women’s win in 46:57, followed by Jen Davis and Lauren Strothers. Mike Shrum crushed the field in 44:12 for the overall win followed by Ed Aufuldish and Michael Nance. The YERG Rob Yerger and Ivanka Tolan were masters winners. Mario Alvarez took home grandmasters. Ruth-Marie Embler was the female grandmasters winner, clocking an incredible 57:39/7:44 pace at age 65, a pending state record. 

12k age groupers :Lindsey McIntosh, Sally Davidson and Mara Argyriou were tops in a super competitive 25-29 women’s group. Kara Stevens and Lindsey Hendren were top 2 in the 30-34. Jennifer Lybrand and “nonfacebook” Jenna Teer were 1-2 in the 35-39 women, while Andy Mikula was 2nd among the men. Justin “eyedocrunner” Campbell and Tristan Neville were 1-3 in the 40-44 men and Nikki Barthelemy was tops among the women. Drew Dickerson and Julie McKinnon were champs of the 45-49. Heather Hawn was 2nd in the 50-54. Barbara Brandenburg, Kay Ornelas and Sherry Fadel won the 55-59 women, while Clay Ham, Robert Ornelas and Joe Robinson won among the men. Pete O’Boyle and Carol Wallace both won the 65-69.  Bill Iskrzak was 2nd in the 70-74 men, while Lynn Grimes was the champ among the women with an 8:56 pace!

Other 12k notable finishers: Jim Fadel, Michael Jensen, Patrick Hall, Allison Sweeney, Rebekah Robertson, Nancy Alvarez, Julia Ghering, Kurt Hamm, Gretchen Lambert, Son Nguyen, Jenny Nance, Sheila Bolin, Bridgette Honor, Hou-Yin Chang, and Greta Dobe.

The 5k was won by 19 year old Henry Wood in a blazing 16:11, followed by Dimery with a 16:41 – not too shabby for a 40 year old. David Giovannini was 3rd in 18:43. Gabby Jourdain was tops among the women, followed by a pair of 11 year olds –  Paisley Hinkle and Delilah Williams. “Consolation” masters went to the Albino Sasquatch thanks to Dimery placing in the overall. Coleen Strasburger is too fast for grandmasters and won female masters in 24:26. Jeff Brandenburg and Janine Nimmons were grandmaster champs.

5k age groupers: Quentin and Sabine McGrievy both placed 2nd in the 14-16. Regan Freeman won the 25-29. Chris Branham won the 40-44. Chirs Fawver and Brie McGrievy were the 45-49 champs. Johnathan Kirkwood and Michael Sakara were 2-3 in the 50-54, while Kimberly Holliday won among the women. Mark Bedenbaugh took the 55-59 win. Phil Smith was champ of the 60-64. Marc Embler (1981 Cooper river bridge 10k winner)  and Ron Lipe were 1-2 in the 65-69. Helene Lipe took 3rd among the women. Pete Poore was 3rd and Nonie Hudnall 1st in  the 70-74. Ken Lowden was champ of the 75+.

Other 5k notable finishers include: Melinda Waldrop, Kat Hudgins, Dorothy Collins, Sandra Manning, and racing machine Margie Shelburg, completing race #32 for the year!

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.

Sweat it Out 5k – Columbia, SC – 6/4/22

The Sweat it Out 5k started out 8 years ago as a small independent race, but over the years it has grown to be one of the more competitive events on the tour. Held in the area near Meadowfield Elementary and Hammond Academy behind the VA, the course is a fairly flat and fast route and typically provides the last decent chance at a fast time before the summer heat really sets in. Erin Roof took over race directing early on, so true to GRIT form, there is great post race swag and food, wth chick fil a biscuits, coffee and the signature Chicken Man painting awards. Don’t forget the free beer at Hunter Gatherer at packet pickup on Friday. (I certainly don’t) The race goes towards a good cause as well, benefitting the national foundation for ectodermal dysplasias. The cause and race is in recognition of Nicholas Duke, who has an ectodermal condition that makes it impossible for him to sweat. 

Sweat it Out has always been a standby on the Tour de Blue Shoes, but this year my calendar started filling up for June 4. At some point I agreed to do the Cottonmouth Beerlay (8 mile beer relay) with Drew Williams. That was in Greenville that afternoon, so a rough double dip was already in order. But then I realized the Wildewood Fun Run 5k was also that morning at 10 am. And I had to do that too, since I “won ” last year’s event by brutally beating down a couple of cocky teenagers from the ‘hood. Beware the chunky middle aged man showing up to a fun run in Vaporflys.

But I still had high hopes for a decent race at Sweat It Out to lead it all off. I ran a 19:05 last year and had an insane COVID shutdown virtual mano y mano race with F^&*ing Higgins in 2020 in 19:04 (which I lost and got brutally blue shoed in the final quarter mile), so I hoped to maybe crack 19 this year. It’s always a tough call though, because the heat is typically pretty nasty. The race start time is 7 am, which is good to avoid the worst of it. Unfortunately my testy race day colon isn’t used to that, so I’m always afraid of a late encore to my toilet performances of the morning.

Inside sources for this race suggested that the women’s field in this thing was going to be absolutely stacked. Sure enough, Shawanna White, Purity Menene, Sally Davidson, Christa Collins, Jen Davis, Jennifer Lybrand, Ivanka Tolan, MC Cox, Ashley Holman and Shannon Godby were all on hand, and Greenville elite Shelby Jaramillo was there as well. That being said, the men’s field seemed unusually light with no Trackstar Eddie, Shrum or Striggles to be found. Initially it looked like maybe Branham and I, or Regan, would be fighting it out for the male win, though it was all but assured we would be chicked multiple times over. A young fast looking dude and elite masters Get to the Green winner Robert McBee showed up late though, so the holy grail was definitely off the table. I told Branham he really should try to avoid getting blue shoed this time (a la Race for the Place). Getting a Sasquatchean beatdown two races in a row would be embarrassing. There was a huge CRC turnout for this one, since TDC point opportunities were about to get a lot fewer in the next two months.

We all lined up at 7 am and though the heat is definitely there, it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. I was hoping for the freakishly cool morning of the Higgins showdown but high60s/low 70s wasn’t too shabby. The start of this thing was nuts. Everybody just flying in the first quarter mile. I’m getting passed by everybody since I always have to toe the start line with my enormous ego. All the ladies are crushing it. It takes me a full half mile before I can settle in to where maybe I should be in this field. I feel like Branham, Christa and Jen are gapping me already and I’m really struggling not to let them get out of range in the first mile. Regan must have doubled up on the coffee because he is really flying out there with Shawanna. I really, really would like to just pull out as I can tell this race is going to be a dumpster fire from the get go. But maybe I can salvage something. Brendan Holman is riding me like an oversized monkey on my back and I’m deathly afraid of maybe getting Aufuldished too and miss out on masters altogether. Jordan is screaming for his wife so I know JLy is just behind me too. I really thought mile 1 was slow, but Garmin chirps back a 6:11, so not terrible for me. I had been hitting around 6 flat pace earlier this year, but it ain’t January any more. Mile 2 is a rectangle behind the school followed by the Saye Cut straight out-and-back. Saye Cut always gives you a chance to see where you are since there’s no hiding when you turn around right back from which you came. As I near the turnaround, I see the young dude, Purity, and Shelby absolutely locked in a tight pack for the overall win in both genders. McBee is next, followed by Shawanna, Regan, Chris, Jen and Christa. Regan is talking and acting like he’s out for a jog. Must be nice to be 25, I guess. Mile 2 in 6:08 and I’ve managed to keep Branham in range. One problem with pulling my usual negative splits though is that I feel like absolute death. The dumpster fire is starting to rekindle. What’s worse is not only that late hill, but also the thought of that late hill. I’m blasting down Galway pretty hard but the gas tank is pretty empty at this point. I do an ugly arm pump up that incline right before Meadowfield but yeah, I got nothing. In my mind I had hoped to blast past Christa, Jen and Chris in that last half mile, but that most assuredly was not happening. Plus, who knows what danger lurks behind me. I try and make a final surge in the closing stretch but I’m just dying. Chris informs me “NOT TODAY, DUDE”. He’s right.I hit the final turn and have to ugly sprint to get under 19:30, 19:22 officially. Not my best, but I was glad I din’’t bail. I salvaged 2nd masters and another addition to the Chicken Man installation in my office!

(Note – the timing company results had categories set up as if there were cash awards – I’m going by standard CRC Tour de Columbia rules)

 In the overall, Shelby nipped Purity by one second in the women’s race 17:39 to 17:40. Looking at other results, Shelby ran a 5:15 mile on Friday in Greenville and got up at 3 am to come down and race in Columbia. Nice double dip! Shawanna took 3rd in 18:54. On the men’s side, 19 year old David Williams took the win in 17:25, with Robert McBee 2nd and Regan 3rd. Regan crushed an 18:54 even while dealing with some recent injuries – pretty impressive.  Female masters had a top 3 of  Christa Collins, Ivanka Tolan and MC Cox. Chris Branham took male masters, with The Sasquatch and Duane Kimball  2nd and 3rd. 

Male age group honor roll; Danny Vowles was 2nd in the 15-19.. Parker Roof took the 20-24 win, while Ian Loughlin claimed the 25-29. Seth Lapic, Westley Mckinney (pacing MC) and Brian Aplin swept the 30-34. Antjuan Seawright and Chris Reed were 2nd/3rd in the 35-39. Brendan Holman was champ of the 40-44. Randy SILENT H Hrechko took the 50-54 with Jonathan Kirkwood 2nd. Ed Aufuldish, Clay Ham (with a 22:12 PR) and   Mark Gallagher swept the 55-59. Dave Hale and Patrick McCormick were 1-3 in the 60-64. Ron Lipe and Harry Strick took the 65-69. Alex Ponomarev and Bill Iskrzak were first and third in the 70-74. Ron Hagell was 2nd in the 75-79. 

Female Age group honor roll: Evelyn Holman won the Under 9 with an impressive 24:26. Lilly Holman was 2nd in the 10-14. Sally Davidson took the 20-24 crown in 19:47. Jessica Weaver was champ of the 25-29. Jen Davis, Jennifer Lybrand, Kara Stevens (PR in 21:57) and Lauren Lapic swept the 30-34, while Ashley Holman, Brittany Jones and Megan Duffy did the same in the 35-39. Mc Cox, Shannon Godby and Colleen Quarles placed in a brutally competitive 45-49. Missy Caughman was 2nd in the 50-54. Renee McCormick, Kelly Danias and Greta Dobe won the 55-59. Melody Kreiling and Mary Gallagher took the 60-64, while Helene Lipe and Margie Shelburg did the same in the 65-69. Total beast mode for Lynn Grimes, as she won the 70-74 at SIO and was the only TDC double dipper, driving to Sumter and winning her age group there too. WOW.

Other notable finishers: Jamie Duke, Nick’s mom and race founder. Joe Roof, Jonathan King, Phil Smith, Rebekah Robertson, Eliere Tolan, Patrick Hall, Stephanie ‘Stevie Dee” Dukes, Stephanie Williams, Gretchen Lambert, Son Nguyen, Jessalyn Smith, Deanna Rennick, Pete Poore, Jennifer Norris, Lynn Kramer, Kat Hudgins, Maria Pray, and Ken Lowden. Kerry Stubbs competed virtually.

True to the Brew 10k – Pomaria to Peak, SC – 3/26/22

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.

3 am in 2011 in BFE, SC

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. 

There’s even an outside toilet at Wilson’s.

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.