Sunday, November 15, 2009

Matt Gfeller Memorial 5K Doughnut Run

Matt was a freshman at RJR high school who died during his first football game as a Demon. In addition to many other events organized to remember Matt, a 5K seemed a good way to highlight Matt's love of sport and...Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Jill and I live a stones-throw from RJR High School, and even though I am a Mt. Tabor Spartan through-and-through, we feel a certain attachment to the school in the neighborhood. When we heard of this 5K, we knew we'd do it. To our surprise, the race had a hitch: runners had the option of entering as "challengers" or as "casual." Challengers were required to eat 6 hot'n'nows at the halfway point, then run to the finish. Casual runners were under no such burden.

Jill and I both decided to enter as casual, because as good as KK doughnuts are the first time they pass your lips, we had no interest in seeing if they were as good or better the second time around. This actually happened to MANY who entered as challengers.

To the race: The sun was out, with temps in the upper 50s to low 60s by the start. At the gun, the racers - differentiated only by RED or BLACK numbers on their bibs - took off. With most of the climbing in the first mile, I knew this was where most of the race would be decided. The throngs surged ahead however, and I was pacing well to stay in the top 40.

At the halfway point, every single person ahead of me veered to the left toward the doughnut tables - all challengers. As a casual runner, I could opt for 0 - 5 doughnuts. The challengers started squishing KKs and shoving them in their mouths while chugging water. Before I realized it, I made the turn and was heading back to the start/ 1st place and with no doughnuts in my stomach (or tucked between my gums and cheeks).

This is one of the great thrills of sport, to be in first, even if for only a moment. It is almost confusing, because most of the time we are playing our position off of those around us: listening to breathing, for shifts of gears, for the whoosh-whoosh of someone with carbon wheels standing to pedal...

This glory was short-lived, as by mile 2.5 I was passed by two runners: young whippersnappers who were barely even trying. No one else came by, and when I looked back at mile 3 no one was there.

Coming to the finishing straight, my friend Kristin snapped a shot and it's below. I landed 3rd overall, but as a casual runner, I don't command the respect or admiration (rightly so) of those who slammed down 6 hot doughnuts and ran it on home. The first challenger was only about 1 minute behind me. Impressive!

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