Etowah River Run

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.

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