Today’s Etowah River Run was a hot and humid affair. I chuckled as I read the weather report on my Droid near race time. 80 degrees and 87% humidity seemed right, but it was the NWS Heat Advisory that caught my attention: “stay in an air-conditioned room and stay out of direct sunshine.” Seemed as good a time as any to run a 5K!
We got a quick perspective check, though, as backpack-clad 24-hour racers from the nearby Gold Rush 24 Adventure came running by just before the start of the 5K. We 5K’ers cheered them on heartily: cheers of encouragement, and of celebration that we would be done 50 times sooner.
Yet the course was flat and fast, the race is for a good cause, and it has become quite a tradition around Canton. Turnout was good in spite of the heat, as this is race gets good participation from local cross-country teams (it falls in the training season, just before Saturday meets begin). This was the second year that Lydia and I ran it, so we knew what to expect.
The one twist to this course is that the first mile is the fast one, with a long downhill. This means it takes longer to “thin out” the crowds, and runners don’t fall into position until after mile 1. A lot of folks let that pull them into too fast a pace and end up paying for it in the last half. I reminded Lydia beforehand not to do that; she managed her pace well, and was strong at the finish. And what an exciting finish!
After I was done, I stayed near the finish line and watched for Lydia. As the timer cleared 27 minutes, I walked over and checked the card baskets. There was nothing yet in the under 10 girls basket, so I knew if Lydia finished at her usual pace, she could grab a first place age group award. I soon saw her running in, looking great, in first place! About 20 yards behind her was a girl about her age gaining on her. She overtook Lydia, and Lydia kicked into a faster sprint and passed her again. It went back and forth until they passed the finish line side by side, shoulder to shoulder. It was a dead tie as far as I can tell. But, while in the chute, the girl grabbed a place card first, which put her in first and Lydia in second. Lydia was a bit disappointed, but it was the most exciting finish in the race (yes, I’m a bit biased).
Officially, Lydia placed second at around 29:20. I ran it in 24:35, and was happy enough to run a sub-8 5K while under a heat advisory.
After Lydia collected her award, we prepared to leave, but she then asked to stay for more door prizes. Great suggestion! I had forgotten how good and plentiful the prizes were at this race. Lydia won a $25 Walmart card, and I won a $50 Phidippides card. And the race T-shirt is a good one. It’s cotton, not technical, but it’s a nice design and an improvement over previous years.
Overall, it was a great morning, and we’ll run it again next year. Surely, it will be cooler.