The day dawned bright and cold for Charlotte Running Club's first official race. My usual pre race rituals were thrown off a little as Lisa was in VA for her Mom's birthday and I had to drop the kids off at the neighbours. Still I arrived in plenty of time to pick up my number and chip and get three miles of warm up in on the course. I noted the excellent course markings and the smooth registration/packet pick up process. Changed into my new TrySports singlet and Wave Ronin 3s, did some strides and was ready to roll.
The race got off exactly on time. A quick scout of the front runners and I’d ascertained that favourite John Compton was present, along with Aussie Dan and newly engaged/birthday boy Chris. I figured these were the guys I would have to mix it up with if I was to place top 3 and walk away with some nice Gore running gear! We settled into a comfortable pace early on, I sat in behind John, with Dan alongside and a big group still around us. I was getting a bit antsy (as usual) but figured if I was close to John then I must be running a decent enough pace so just settled in. I had resolved to not look at my watch during the race at all as I wanted to use this as a race not a time trial. At about half a mile, my impatience got the better of me and I stepped around the side of Dan and started pushing the pace a little alongside John.
As we approached the mile marker I took a quick look around and was able to ascertain that the 4 expected protagonists had formed a lead group now and it was likely that the top three would come from this bunch.
just after the mile mark (I'm hidden)
There was loud crowd support here and again when we looped back to near the same point 400 metres later before hitting the infamous Mcalpine hill for the first of what would be two times. I felt good running up the hill but as usual lost some ground on the steep downhill the other side. While the other three seemed to head down there with reckless abandon, my lanky, uncoordinated frame stumbled down and I lost a few yards. As we came past the lake for the first time we were strung out in a line of 4- John followed by Dan then Chris then myself.
We turned off the path across the grass and back to the start line, just the usual 5k course to go now. At this point of the race I was feeling okay but the other guys were looking solid too. Doubts started to creep in that I would be able to stay with the three of them so I made the decision to try and banish these doubts by making a move myself. I consciously started to drive harder and passed Dan and Chris on the long straightaway. John was a further distance ahead and looking stronger and stronger, not an unexpected development. Now it was just a question of focusing on John up ahead and holding off Dan and Chris from behind. As we hit the hill the second time, el Presidente Aaron was halfway up barking encouragement and I made sure to drive well up the hill, knowing I could pick up a few seconds here.
driving up the hill second time round
We came past the lake again, the four of us strung out a lot further apart than we had been the first time round.
coming past the lake second time around
We were now catching back markers and getting ready for the final push around the back mile. As we hit the 4 mile mark I glanced at my watch so that I would know how fast I covered the last mile afterwards. It read 21:26 which was a pleasant surprise as it looked like I was going to come in comfortably under 27 minutes which I would certainly have taken before the race. This spurred me on for one last push and I was able to hold off an equally fast finishing Dan to secure second spot and a sweet Gore long sleeve for my troubles. I finished in 26:34 which is actually not far off my 26:28 PR from the roads a few years back.
glad to be done
I was happy with the race and it had checked all the boxes I was hoping for at this stage of Myrtle training. I had a decent competitive race outing under my belt and a nice top to go home in. Congrats must go out to the event organizers. For a first time event, everything seemed to go off very smoothly and this will hopefully be the first of many CRC Winter Classic 8ks. The ‘unusual’ distance and terrain to your usual 5k road race fare was very much appreciated and a great addition to the racing calendar.