Background for the EventCoach Murrell invited me to join the alumni vs the current cross country team challenge. I think this is the fourth year that he has done this fun, informal event. I am not an alumnus of ABS, but my wife is and alumna. Also, I know several of the runners on the cross country team. I'd like to thank Coach Murrell for inviting me. Also, I'd like to thank the parents who volunteered to do timing, who brought the water and watermelon for post race refreshments, and generally made it possible.
This "race" is roughly 3 miles. It's not quite 5k, but it is just a shade over 3 miles. It's probably 3.05 or so miles. It is two laps around the Athens High walking track. I don't know how many showed up tonight. I'll have to check the numbers with Coach Murrell. The idea is that the competition is like a cross country race with one team of geriatrics and another team of the current high school cross country runners. This year, the geriatrics had a chance.
On the way, I thought I may have a chance to take first place in this race. I knew the strongest runner on the team was a little out of shape, so I had a chance. I had no idea which alumni may show up, though.
When I got there, I saw Andy Davidson, and I knew that he would dominate the race. Since Andy is an alumnus, it was cool that he was there, because he was on my team! :) I knew that I didn't have to beat the top runner for the geriatric team to win. (It's really not fair to call the team "geriatric" given the make up of the team this year, but it has a funny ring to it!) There were a few other young alumni who were in decent shape, namely Caleb George and David Watson. So,I knew the alumni team would win. I think this is the first year that has happened! Go Geriatrics!
When the race started, Cliff Denton (senior XC runner) and Andy Davidson were setting the pace with Caleb and David close behind, then me. Not far behind me was Marshall Smith (sophomore) and Andrew Pittman (junior). I knew I couldn't keep up with Andy, so I didn't try. Perhaps I should have stayed closer during the first mile because the gap wasn't very big.
Just beyond the half mile mark I passed Caleb and David. I didn't know if they would try to hang with me or not, but they didn't. I still had Andy and Cliff in my sight, but they hit the 1 mile mark at least 15 seconds ahead of me, and I hit it somewhere near 6:18. They both no doubt broke 6:00.
Shortly after that, Andy began to pull away. Cliff stayed with him for a while, but couldn't hold on. I kept Cliff in my sight, but I should have stayed closer in the first mile. The gap was a little bigger than I should have let it be between Cliff and me at the halfway point, but not insurmountable. Andy's lead over Cliff was already insurmountable. My lead over Caleb, David, Marshall, and Andrew was likewise insurmountable. So, the only battle left was for second place.
I was slowing and hurting. I hit mile 2 at about 6:41. Yeah, that's slow for a 3 mile race. I was a little surprised by the split given my level of effort. I was able to hold near that pace for the remainder of the race.
The thought of tracking down Cliff crossed my mind, but I just couldn't dig deep enough to do it. He was slowing as badly or worse than I was. The team outcome was already decided. Andy was easily in first place and David and Caleb had a big lead over Andrew and Marshall. I just didn't want 2nd place badly enough to try to catch him.
Andy won comfortably at 17:26. Cliff was maybe 20 seconds ahead of me, but I didn't get his official time. I came in at 19:39, which is a disappointing time for me. Caleb and David came in near 21:00, followed by Andrew, then Marshall. I guess I'm going to have to come to grips with the fact that I'm not as fast in the 5k as I was earlier this year.
Or maybe I'm the same and it's the weather. It was HOT and sticky! The temp was about 86 or so and the dew point was about 72 for a RH of 65% or so. Yuck. It hurt. I couldn't really even do a cool down because my abs hurt so bad!
It really is a great group of kids that Coach Murrell has this year. There is room for improvement. Cliff will get in the low 17's with some work. Andrew and Marshall have 18-ish potential. I'm not sure who is next. But I am sure that it is a fine group of young men who have character, respect and discipline. That's far more important than a number on a clock.
Great fun! I hope to join the challenge again next year!