Devil Mountain Run - back from the ashesWritten by Ralph Gowen
I'm an old school runner, remembering the days before every race having to have a charity, T-shirts, entry fees being very modest and most of the runners toeing the line being fairly serious about the sport. I remember being shocked when entry fees went up to $10, but heck at least you got a shirt. During the first running boom, distances weren't really important either, we didn't have GPS watches or chip timing - no one complained about the mile markers being off in a 5.65 mile race. At the finish you were handed a popsicle stick with a number on it, and someone yelled out a time while someone else tallied a time sheet to be matched up later. Results? only if you brought a SASE - for you pups out there, that's a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. Races in kilometers was a true rarity - we were proudly mile based. High school tracks were dirt, and we didn't run 400s or even quarters... we ran 440s, 880s and miles. Technical shirts? never heard of them. Nylon shorts? - Dolphins were a big deal if you could find them. Certainly 12 years old didn't run road races, and if they did they weren't fast.
With that background, I was somewhat aghast at the demise of the Devil Mountain Run a couple of years ago. Especially because of the "big money" seemingly needed to keep the promoters, charity, etc all mutually happy with putting on the event. After 35 years, the race seemed on the verge of extinction. Thankfully, we had some local energy surrounding the event and Chris McCrary, Kevin Magna and Marty Breen conspired to get the event going again. Clearly, the town got behind it with most of the town council present at the start. For a reborn race, the first year has to be viewed as a great success with over 800 finishers of the two distances.
Meanwhile back at the race: At the starting line, I'm usually scared for the lives of the children who have the audacity to put their toes directly on the starting line, and question the sanity of their parents who let them line up there. This time it was clear things were different, as the Oak Hill Athletics showed up with their coaches, all of them decked out in their age group finery, and clearly showed that they were here to count coup on the geriatrics sporting the Forward Motion kits... I was standing with fellow Forward Motion senior citizens at the starting line watching this scene with amusement - How fast could they possibly be? Would they pull the go out like jackrabbits and come to a screeching start in 100 meters? They after all wouldn't know what a yard is, being children of the new millenium.
Feeling a bit like a confused visitor to Munchkinland, I looked to my East and to my West seeing teammates Tara Carreira and Stephanie Bambury. We had a slight delay before the start when we got to watch Kevin Magna running faster then any of us could remember as he sprinted down the street to remove the barricades, and then the starters gun went off. We went out fast, but the children went faster... at the mile split I was running alongside Tara and Stephanie and we hit it a 6:00. Kids were everywhere - shouldn't they be over in the gutter throwing up by now? Thankfully in the middle mile, the kids seemed to start fading and we were all hoping that those of us without 8:00 bedtimes might retain a little dignity by the end of the race. As we made the turn for home onto the Iron Horse Trail, I allowed Tara and Stephanie to run ahead of me a bit, because that's the kind of guy I am... and then the truly awful started to happen as the little gremlins started picking up pace on the third mile. I could have been slowing down, but I find that very hard to believe - and as this is my race report... and there no fact checkers here that couldn't have been the case... Nonetheless, the third mile showed the there will be several high school programs in the area with some great recruits for their cross country teams in the next few years as several of them went blowing by...
Bottom line - I finished with a 20:09, my best time since being injured two years ago, and hopefully just a stepping stone to getting back to where I was before that. This was good enough for 2nd in my age group, 9th adult male, and 13th adult overall - as I "LET" Tara and Stephanie beat me ... but I ended up 23rd overall - as 10 rug rats whupped me. Okay, I have no issue with the 15 and 16 year old lads as they are certainly old enough to be on High School cross country teams, but the 12 year old boy who ran a 17:52? the 11 year old boy with a 19:42? or the 11 year old girl who ran 20:04? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Post race, I consoled myself at the Herriman Cooke Wealth Management "Bringing home the bacon!" booth. I changed clothes several times, put on my sun glasses and otherwise disguised myself as visited the booth to get a strip of bacon. This is the best post race food treat we've had in a long time. Heck back in the old days, they would usually have beer, but those days sadly have gone by. Along with the days of not getting slapped around by 11 year olds...
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