Friday, October 2, 2015

Oak City Mile

When area runners heard last year that The Magnificent Mile race was to be discontinued after months of wrangling with the folks handling the new Raleigh ordinances governing when and where road races could be held, we were more than disappointed.  Raleigh has made holding road races more difficult, trying to appease residents and reduce road closures.  The Magnficent Mile course, from Second Empire restaurant along Hillsborough St to the Capital and back, crossed both McDowell and Dawson streets. This necessitated a partial closure – one of the reasons cited in denying a continued race permit.

Precision Race stepped into the abyss with an inaugural mile race, Oak City Mile, also on a Sunday afternoon, and also along Hillsborough, but going in the opposite direction.  The Oak City Mile’s route began on Hillsborough near the railroad overpass at Edenton, went slightly up hill, passing St. Mary’s, up to the roundabout at Morgan St and then returned.  The event, unlike The Magnificent Mile, was specific to the two USATF NC one mile championships --  men’s then women’s.  (The Magnificent Mile also included a recreational walk along the mile, as well as a kids’ race.  Hillsborough St in the area of Second Empire remained closed from about 11am until close to 5 p.m.)  Oak City Mile impacts Hillsborough for a much shorter time.  The ALS Foundation was the charity beneficiary.

image by Oak City Mile

The weather was pleasant (73°) and sunny on Sept. 13th.  Parking was not an issue.  Those who had not picked up their race packet on the preceding Friday, could do so right near the start area across from Runlogie, the race host.  Among the Nog Run Club contingent, the pre-race excitement was whether AAA would arrive before the race to open a runner's car to retrieve her keys.  She expected she’d miss the race.   Aaargh!  Despite the substantial prize money to be awarded to first through third Open and Masters winners, there were not as many participants as in the Mag Mile.  It wasn’t until mid-August that word began circulating about this inaugural race.  I'd told the Piedmont Pacers (Greensboro area) about it since some had asked about the Mag Mile in mid August.  Four of the Pacers arrived for the race. (With me, that made five of us.)

     Other local runners had come out, including Sandy Roberts, the inspiration and organizer of Sir Walter Miler. 

 He was still recovering from an injury. When the women lined up, I was disappointed at how few there seemed to be.  My competitor pal and I were near the front since there seemed to be so few runners.  (To show how bad perceptions are, when I checked the results later, it seems that though 61 had registered, there were actually 53 women finishers – more than I thought!)  The Nog Run Club member with the locked car was one of the finishers, having been rescued in time from her key dilemma.

Prior to the men’s start, I trotted around the four blocks bounded by Hillsborough, West, and Morgan streets.  I don’t enjoy the warm up pre-race ritual.  I always start off achy and feeling like a slug, then have to work my way up to a decent knee bend, advancing to a more turtle-like pace.  I trotted up Hillsborough for a bit with two others.

Men's lineup - Abie far left in red

Standing on the overpass with pals, we prepared to watch the men.  Sandy Roberts was on the far side, as was Abie Harris, a Sunday Church of the Oval pal, who was near the curb but in the first row (a new tactic for this race.)  He was hoping to do under a 10-minute mile.  (For those who do not know Abie, he is a determined competitor, now in his 80s. This was probably his first race in over a year or so.)  Off they went, crossing over the overpass hump, then disappearing over the subsequent slight rise beyond the RR overpass.   When the RPD car later came into view in the distance, we looked for Sandy’s blue shirt since the leading runners were too far away to distinguish beyond shirt color   Sandy was second, in 4:33.2, behind young Isaac Presson who crossed the Finish in 4:25.6  Benjamin Rachunok was third in 4:38.3.  Abie Harris made his goal, finishing in a spectacular 9:05.  He was not last. 
The women’s race was scheduled to start twenty minutes after the men’s. 

I started off, but wasn’t yet beyond the overpass when I heard a racing buddy spectator reminding me to slow down!  I did, once beyond the merge of Edenton and Hillsborough.  With my sensitivity to any type of incline, be it two inches or more, I knew I had best just keep plodding on and conserving energy.  Runners passed.  I looked ahead or at the scenery or just concentrated on keeping acceptable breathing.  Being a quiet Sunday and past brunch time, there were not many people out.  At least, that I noticed. Having trotted along Hillsborough during Capital RunWalk outings, I was used to running out of energy near St. Mary’s.  So I may have slowed even more.  Just don’t walk – I’d walked in past Magnificent Miles.  Just prior to the roundabout, the road dipped.  Relief for a moment..  Don’t run on the sidewalk, we’d been admonished.  I trudged around the roundabout, looking for my main competitor as I came out of it.  I did not see her.  Uh, oh.  She must be right behind me.  (She could have passed while I was looking down at the street!) In front, there was a slight incline and curve, preventing me from seeing all those ahead.  I saw the trailing RPD car coming along the other way.  Not too many folks were behind me.

I was close to empty when I arrived back at the overpass and the Finish.  I managed to finish in under 9, at 08:41.  (I was 36 of 53.)  I gulped water and ate an energy bar plus a banana.  Nothing satisfies like a banana!   The stats: 61 women registered, 53 crossed finish; 108 men registered (one the RD so that was probably a test registration), 99 finished.   Fastest male -- 04:25, last male finisher 10:48; fastest female (Andi Cozzarelli) 04:58, last female 19:11 (the finisher just prior came in at 13:13.)  Beyond cash awards to the overall group, gift cards went to only the first place age group finishers. The last AG was 70, so Abie missed out.  Of the four other Piedmont Pacers, Dixon Cook won his AG and Hollis Oberlies was third female master overall.   

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