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A Big Year for Running: the 2021 Racing Report

Now that we are halfway through the year 2022 its time to write about my races of 2021. Really late for that you say . . . you think I’m too slow getting this report done? Then we have summed up the year perfectly. The three words to describe my running year were slow, slower, (but not) slowest. I had no last-place finishes but several people did have tripping accidents as I barely crossed the finish line one step ahead of them.

Of course I have excuses for my lack of speed. I’m older for one. The years do take their toll on runners. Also, most races were cancelled in 2020 so my options were to run virtually or not run at all. Virtual running can be a good thing if you decide to eat virtually as well. Yes, the number one reason for slow running is a big mouth. As in eating everything around you. Oh sure, people tried to help me. They gave me impractical advice like, “Don’t eat so much,” and “that was supposed to feed three people.” My personal physician, Dr. A, told me that with my dramatic weight increase the last few years he was referring me to a specialist . . . a large animal veterinarian.

Seeing the veterinarian was a waste of time. All he could tell me was, “Don’t eat so much,” and “that was meant for the whole barn.” I tried running with friends but that didn’t work out at all. Apparently they didn’t understand that “run with me” really means “can you carry me?”

January 2021

The Hill and Dale 8 Miler

Who knew that Memphis was brutally cold and wet in January? Go figure. This race, which contains the word “hill” in the title had a lot of climbing. I wish that the race organizers could have better clued us in on the fact that the race had hills. Like a better title could be, “A Race with a Lot of Steep Hills 8 Miler.” I asked Dr. Wayne Cornett, Professor of New Testament and Greek, to run with me and he summed up the day as we stood in the cold, wet morning. “I belong on Team Summer.”

Total Time: 1:44:03. Pace 13:01 mile. Place: 256th. Gender Place 137th. Age Group 10th

Irving Frost Half Marathon

I ran a lot of virtual races during the COVID lockdown. I signed up for this Texas race but then it was changed to virtual only. This was my last virtual race. I ran it on the trails of Shelby Farms and no one cheered for me or set up tables to give me water and snacks along the course. Boooo!

Time: 3:09:41. Pace 13:09. Place: alone.

February 2021

Mississippi River Marathon

I ran race this against my better judgment. The first time I ran this race, from Lake Village, Arkansas across the Mississippi River to Greenville, Mississippi it poured rain and my wet feet died a slow and painful death. This time I came prepared. I had trash bags to wrap my shoes in. My careful race planning indicated that this technique would keep my feet dry for the first 15 minutes of the six hour race. Take that Mother Nature.

However, this year Mother Nature had other plans. Wind. Running into the headwind combined with a few other things really took the starch out of me. Somewhere near mile 18 I fell in with some new friends and we decided to walk for a while. One person made an off-hand comment that we might find some good snacks along the route. I don’t know about most people, but I usually don’t eat snacks that I find along the highway during races. After about a mile one runner in the group said, “Is that it?” and the reply was “I’ll go and check.” While this runner walked into a field to go to a fence gate, another runner told me that this group always runs together and they put their own snacks out along the course. The runner returned with a large Tupperware tub full of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Dr. Peppers. The offered me some but I turned them down. It’s never good to eat new foods during a marathon. It can really mess up your stomach. Then the runner reached deep into the tup and pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey and shook the bottle at me and said, “Want something for the pain?’ I again said, “no thanks.” one runner told me that the last time that they had offered their whiskey to a stranger it turned out to be . . . A BAPTIST PREACHER. They were so embarrassed and they hoped that they would never see him again! I hadn’t told them who I was or what I did so I just said, “What are the odds of that happening!” I ran on, smiling to myself.

Time: 6:02:30. Pace 13:50. Place 139 of 155. Gender Place 99 of 109. Age Place: 13 of 14.

Winter Off Road Series

This series of races in January and February consists of a 3k, 5k, 8k, and 10k. I skipped the 3k because I HATE RUNNING FAST. I ran several of the races with Brad Sappenfield but the staggered starting times because of COVID caution made these races hard to keep up with friends.

March 2021

Memphis Big BBQ Marathon

I signed up for this race at the last minute. A friend mentioned that they were running the half marathon and I signed up the week before the race. The course ran through a part of Shelby Farms, my home course for running! I was a little worried about the 6 hour cutoff because that is about my normal finish time, but the course was flat with cool and sunny weather. I met someone towards the end of the race who was struggling so I stopped and talked with them for a bit. With four miles to go they worked through their pain and took off ahead of me. I looked up their name after the race and, apparently, they never finished the course. I guess they felt that 23 miles was enough for one day. I thought that I had missed the cut off by seconds but they told me at the finish line that the cutoff was really 6 and a half hours. Whew! Oh, and I won my age group!!! I know what you are thinking. Since I was the only one in my age group I really finished last. Well, we are both right.

Time 6:00:38.9. Pace 13:45. Place 26 of 28. Gender 18 of 18. Age group 1st Place! (1 of 1)

May 2021

Great American River Run

This race is a favorite half marathon that goes along the Mississippi River and through downtown Memphis. The race features a big overpass to climb fast called “Beat the Bridge” about mile 10. This is a great way to burn up whatever resolve you have left to keep running in the heat of the day.

Time 2:38:37. Pace 12:06. Place 551 of 676. Gender Place 334 of 374. Age Group 27 of 32.

June 2021

Hatfield McCoy Marathon

From the mountains of Kentucky to the mountains of West Virginia, this race follows the sights of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Apparently the Hatfields and McCoys were really angry that so many hills were in the area that they started fighting. Whoever put that mountain at mile 23 on the course should be careful or a new feud may start. The runners versus the person-who-picked-a-route-with-lots-of-hills-and put-the-biggest-one at-mile-23 feud. The race was advertised as hot and humid and it did not disappoint. It was a fun race except for a few locals who asked me where I was from and, when I told them Memphis, they replied, “That’s fer away from here, fer away.” True, true. And it’s flat where I hail from. They told us the race would start with a shotgun blast. I think the shotgun was for the mile 23 hill person. Just my humble opinion.

It took me 6 and a half hours to finish the race and by the time I was done all of the shower locations were closed. The restaurants were still drive-through only because of COVID so there was no place to wash up even a little bit. Let’s just say that on my drive back home to Memphis, it was good that I was in the car alone.

Time: 6:23. Place 170. Gender 95. Age Group 17. IQ 0.

The race starts with a shotgun blast.

August 2021

Forrest Spence 5k

Why run in the heat and humidity in Kentucky when I can do that right here at home in Memphis? A fun 5k at Shelby Farms with running friend Brad Sappenfield.

Time 34:39. Pace 11:10. Place 267 of 546. Gender Place 175 of 274. Age Place 9 of 15.

September 2021

Chick-fil-A 5k

A new course down by the Liberty Bowl and a chance to run with seminary student (and Laura’s boyfriend) Cody. Great day all around. My pleasure.

Time 32:05. Pace 10:20. Place 260 of 598. Gender Place 165 of 292. Age Place 11 of 26.

In this picture I’m giving 2 to 1 odds that Cody marries Laura.

October 2021

Big Hill Pond Walking Tall 25k

This race, about an hour east of Memphis, has become a favorite. I tried the 50k previously and, after 9 hours of running, missed the cutoff by 20 minutes and DNF’ed (Did Not Finish). I scaled back to the 25k (about 15 miles) but this race has several thousand feet of climbing plus a run up a fire tower added in. The elevation is no joke. The 25k time cutoff was not a problem and you get a challenge coin if you climb the fire tower at the top of the mountain.

Time 4:34:39. Place 119 of 185. Age Place 9 of 19.

Big Buffalo 50

The shortest distance for a race to be called an ultra-marathon is 50 kilometers. The Big Buffalo is a 50 miler or a 50k and the 50k can be run as a relay. This was my second time to run the 50k. The race is at Shelby Farms and is considered a trail race but about a third of the course is around Patriot Lake on the concrete sidewalk. Another part of the race is over the gravel roads in the park and the final third (of each of the five loops) is a true trail run through the woods. The change of terrain makes choosing the right shoes a little dicey. Street shoes won’t do well if its muddy and trail shoes beat up your feet on the concrete. I ran in trail shoes and was pretty happy with the results. I medaled and finished 3rd in the Male Grand Master category (of course you would ask, but yes, only three people ran in my age group). As Yogi Berra once said, “Third place at the Big Buffalo is still third place.” Thanks Yogi.

Time 8:34:05. Gender Place 23 of 28. Age Group 3rd Place.

December 2021

St Jude Memphis Marathon

The last race of the year is the St Jude Marathon (the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, was cancelled at the last minute and I decided not to run it virtually but to defer to 2022). I ran with Anthony again as his Vision Guide and we also hung out with Dr. Rachel, who is now an official-nuclear-scientist-genius-type person with an engineering Ph.D. from Vanderbilt. And she and the fam are friends. Anthony smoked the course this year but I was the big let down. I never got into a good running flow and really tightened up at mile 18 and we had to slow down and walk for several miles. Lesson learned, keep relaxed and keep good form.

Time 6:24:44. Place 1425 of 2028. Gender Place 856 of 1198. Age Place 39 of 60.

Goals for 2022. LOSE WEIGHT! As of the halfway point of 2022 I’m down 25 pounds so we will see if I can stay away from the biscuits for the rest of the year! I’m so light that I am now standing on the furniture instead of sitting on it. Onward and Upward!!

Respectfully Submitted,

One comment on “A Big Year for Running: the 2021 Racing Report

  1. Tim Ruth says:

    I love it cheers for all the discipline and staying w it ! looks like a boo boo on the left knee? Maybe when you passed the cow?


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