Spring officially blew in at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, she blew in on a damp, chilly north breeze. But that was only fitting for Hard Climb Hill – the last race of the Carolina Godiva Track Club’s 2015-16 Winter Series, which colored outside the calendar lines by one day.
The fact that the recent cold snap made for chilly, damp conditions along the Duke Forest trails didn’t bother the runners or race organizers.
“It’s the last of the Winter Series, but technically, it’s the first run of the Spring Series,” race director Tom Griffin said. “When I got up this morning, my thermometer said 46, and then I looked a little while later, and it said 45. But I don’t mind running in weather like today’s as long as it’s not raining.”
In fact, many who dressed for wintry elements ended up shedding layers along the way.
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“I had a friend from Alabama that once told me, if you’re not shivering at the starting line, you’re overdressed,” Griffin said.
The low-key, low-stakes cross-country runs that constitute the Winter Series also included the Run for the Donuts last October, the Misery Run in November, December’s Couch Mountain five-mile trail run, a New Year’s Day Run, the Eno Equalizer team race in mid-January, and the Geezer Pleezer on Feb. 14.
Those running all of the Winter Series races earned Godiva’s coveted Winter Series shirt.
The Hard Climb Hill event in Duke Forest comprised a 3-mile option (including the Hard Climb Hill itself); a 7-mile option (the 3-mile course plus an additional 4-mile out-and-back course); and a 10-mile option (where runners scaled the Hard Climb Hill a second time).
Griffin said 68 racers registered, and around 20 volunteers showed up to help out.
Helping himself to the 3-mile finish line was male winner Kevin Rumsey (22:32), who outpaced Bryan Hassin (22:46) and Jim Cunningham (22:59).
Rumsey said footing on the gravel bridle trail was sure, despite recent wet weather.
“I thought, with the rain, it would have been muddier,” he said. “The course was a little bit soft right there where you make the turn to go up the Hard Climb Hill, but otherwise, there were good conditions.”
Among the women’s 3-milers, Jacinta McGlone (27:10) topped the podium, with Alison Gracey (27:28) earning second place and Kaye-Lani Laughna (28:37) in third.
“That hill was pretty tough,” McGlone admitted. “I got about halfway through, and I actually considered walking for a minute, but I realized I could push through it.”
Jim Clabuesch (45:40) blistered the 7-mile course, finishing ahead of runnerup John Cheadle (50:56) and Matthew “Moose” Marum (55:08).
Clabuesch set a rigorous pace early, breezing through the 3-mile mark ahead of even those just running the 3-mile distance.
“Yeah, I was planning on running hard,” he said. “I was at 19-something at three miles I think. It was really good footing, and if you’re standing around, it’s (chilly), but if you’re running, the weather was just about perfect. For the last few years, it’s been in the 40s or 50s but just pouring rain.”
Jess Broglie (54:03) claimed the top prize among the female 7-milers, with Heather Ladd (1:01:08) in second, and Tina Clossick (1:02.52) in third.
Aaron Kramer (1:09:19) crossed the 10-mile finish line first, with Mike Kelley (1:12:00) earning silver, and Alan Kelly (1:13:04) taking the bronze.
Kramer said he tried to stay with the fast-moving Clabuesch through 7 miles, “but he already had a good gap on me, and he just gapped me further as we went along.”
Candy Herrick (1:22:38) finished first in the women’s 10-mile field, and Karen Murphy (1:26:34) was second. There was a tie for third place in the 10M between Denise Larsen and Carolyn Huettel (1:39:57).
Next up for Kramer will be the Rattler Trail Runs in Sanford on April 30.
Clabuesch is pleased with the April race calendar, thanks to a few schedule changes for 2016.
“I’m excited because I think it was the Umstead Coalition Race that changed weekends,” he said. “For however-many years, the Tar Heel 10-miler – which is my favorite distance – and the Umstead Coalition 4-miler, which Godiva helps run and I work at the finish line, have both been on the same date. This year, the 4-miler got moved up, which is a great segueway into the Tar Heel 10.”
McGlone will test her mettle a bit farther afield, however.
“Now I’ll get back on training for another half-marathon in May in Ottawa (Canada),” she said.
Next up for Godiva will be the start of another series. Its annual Summer Track Series, currently is scheduled to begin in May.
Founded in 1975 at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Godiva Track Club has members of all ages and abilities and welcomes new members. Godiva offers an annual Running Start program for those who are new or returning to the activity. In addition to the Winter Series, the club presents popular running events like the Umstead Trail Marathon, weekly summer track meets, and regularly scheduled group runs most days of the week. For more information, visit the Godiva website at www.carolinagodiva.org.