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.