At least one reason for the popularity of the annual Thanksgiving Day Gallop and Gorge 8K road race through the neighborhoods of Carrboro each Thanksgiving morning is the promise that a pre-emptive five-mile run might enable a guilt-free feast later that same day.
An annual rite – a runners’ reunion – has emerged over the past 20 years, predicated upon the precarious balance between calorie burn and calorie binge … until this year, when calories tipped the scales from “Gallop” to “Gorge.”
“OK so this year, we gave out pie as swag to race registrants,” race director Kristen Pate said. “It was fun – it was from a local baker. Everyone who registered took home a whole pie.”
Pumpkin and apple pies were supplied by the Bun Buzzed Bakery via Carmel Market, Pate said, adding that a high turnout of over 1,500 runners had little to do with nearly ideal temperatures and clearing weather.
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“It’s been amazing,” Pate said, laughing, “but I think they’re all just really excited about pie.”
The Gallop and Gorge 8K (4.96-mile) road race marked the final event in Cardinal’s 12th Tour de Carrboro three-race series. The Four on the Fourth road race was held in July, and October saw runners completing the Carrboro 10K (6.1-mile) race. The Cardinal Track Club (www.cardinaltrack.com) is a Carrboro/Chapel Hill-based organization dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of running at all levels.
Carving out a slice of glory this year was former East Chapel Hill High running standout Ethan Ready (26:22.47), who finished ahead of his fellow alum James Gildard (26:30.72) and perennial local front-runner Marc Jeuland (26:41.40).
“I mostly held back,” said Ready, who now runs club cross-country and track at Duke University and hopes to run for the varsity squad next year. “There was one guy who took it out fast and … then it was me and James (Gildard) and one other guy in the chase pack.”
“We picked it up over the last mile on the guy who was leading the whole way,” said Gildard, a red-shirt freshman runner at the University of Georgia.
It was former Chapel Hill High and Oberlin College running standout Sarah Jane Kerwin (30:29.96) reprising her 2015 first-place finish among women, however, besting Julia Rhie (30:58.23) and Michelle Lutz (31:04.46).
“I was in Montana all summer, and I was only running when I could,” Kerwin said, “but I hiked, and I think that gave me pretty good cardio strength.”
“For some reason, the third mile is always my slowest mile in this: it feels like a dead zone,” Kerwin added, “but I just tried to move up from pack to pack.”
Kerwin’s mother, Joan Mabe, (31:51.73) captured the women’s masters crown, while Paul Jones (27:00.47) stood atop the men’s masters podium. Tanja Bauer (42:52.21) earned gold in the Athena division, while Nicholas Taylor (37:32.97) took first in the Clydesdale category.
All Gallop and Gorge final results and age group winners are posted at: http://cardinaltrackclub.com/results.html.
Along with the addition of “just desserts” for all registrants, other changes in place for the 2016 race included new hooded sweatshirts for all Tour de Carrboro series finishers, and new finish line features.
“In the past few races, we’ve had a whole new finish line mat set up for us,” Pate said. “When the runners cross the finish line, their names pop up so that I can announce them.”
All three races in the Tour series benefit the Optimists Club of Chapel Hill, the Arc of Orange County, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, the Get Real and Heel Breast Cancer Program, the Carrboro Family Garden, and TABLE.
This past March, the Cardinal Track Club presented its Community Partners with a record donation of $50,000, bringing the total Cardinal has donated since 2005 to nearly $350,000 in contributions, and Pate is hoping that Cardinal can again provide the same donation for its partners this year.
“We’re at $50,000,” she said. “We were down from our average registration slightly for our Carrboro 10K, but it was up from the previous year, when it was really rainy.”
All in all, Pate was pleased with another year in the books.
“It’s been really smooth this year,” she said last Thursday, “and I’m getting super feedback on today’s race.”
If pie stays on Cardinal’s annual menu, however, they may need to slice into the portions or add a few miles to the 2017 race schedule just to maintain calorie balance in the universe.
Randy Young writes weekly about local recreation. Reach him in c/o firstname.lastname@example.org