Maybe Einstein had it wrong. Maybe time is always relative, not just nearly at light speed.
Ten years ago last Saturday, the Trailheads running group first staged its first Little River 10-mile and 7K Trail Runs. Ask any Trailhead, and they’ll say the 10 years since that cold January day in 2006 seems like the blink of an eye.
Ten years ago last Saturday, two of the top overall 7K finishers in this past weekend’s race were probably watching Nickelodeon. Ask 7K winner Jack McAdams, age18, and he’d say January 2006 seems like half-a-lifetime ago, because, for him, it was.
While well short of the speed of light Saturday, Scott Spillman of Morrison, Colo., was fast enough to win the Little River’s 10-mile race in 1:03:36.4. Durham’s Andrew Baker (1:03:53.8) finished second, with Amadeo Iraheta Mejía (1:08:12.2) of Garner in third place overall. The men’s masters’ division winner was Paul Francis of Chapel Hill (1:08:23.5).
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“The trails are very different than the ones I’m used to in Colorado,” Spillman said. “These have tons of turns and pine straw. I’m used to just bare dirt and rocks.”
Spillman said rains earlier in the week had not left the trail too slippery.
“In general, conditions were pretty awesome for running,” he said.
“I exchanged the lead back and forth with (Andrew Baker) several times over the first seven miles,” Spillman added, “But the last mile, I really had to push. I don’t have much of a kick, so I know if I’m going to win, I need to make my move like two miles out.”
Katie Hume (1:13:02.7) of Carrboro finished first among the women in the 10-mile race, with Sara Crippen (1:20:43.6) in second place, and Elizabeth Foster (1:21:09.9) rounding out the top three spots. Shannon Johnstone (1:25:27.7) repeated her 2014 performance by capturing the women’s 10-mile masters division crown.
“It was good, and it was much better than when I ran it four years ago,” Hume said. “I started out too fast, which is a bad strategy for me, so I was kind of suffering the whole time.”
In the men’s 7K, McAdams (26:56.1) finally displaced three-time winner Curtis Swisher (27:19.2) of Kernersville, who had three-peated in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Brett Haensel (27:29.9) of Raleigh earned the bronze, and Conrad Hall (29:07.9) earned the men’s masters division crown.
“I kind of paced myself for the first mile,” said McAdams, a senior at Riverside High School. “When it got into the single track, I caught Curtis.”
In the women’s 7K, it was Allison Peters of Kernersville (29:49.2) repeating her 2014 performance as the winner. Lauren Hagedorn (30:51.6) placed second, and Christina Kim (31:14.6) was also on the medal stand. Jamie Dilweg (33:00.1) also repeated as 2014 female masters’ victor.
“It was a little slippery, but I enjoyed the course as always,” Peters said. “I slipped a few times coming up the hill and on a couple of the bridges.”
The Trailheads’ Little River Trail Runs follow the single-track trails through Little River Park Regional Park’s pristine forest. The Park boasts nearly 15 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, picnic areas, bathroom facilities, a campground, and a playground. Managed by Orange County, the park offers nearly 400 acres of natural area.
Through a common love of trail running, ultra-running, mountain biking, and other off-road adventure sports, the Trailheads (www.trailheads.org) celebrate nature, preservation, and sensible stewardship of areas such as Little River and the Carolina North Forests in Chapel Hill.
Some of those running Saturday entered the race for reasons other than speed, like Chapel Hill firefighter Jake Sinkiewicz, who ran the 10-mile race in full gear, all 45 pounds of it, to bring attention to “Code 3 for a Cure” — a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to firefighters who are battling cancer.
The rest of Sinkiewicz’s day was relatively easier.
“When I get home and take off the equipment, it’s like walking on air,” he said, laughing.
Layna “Willow” Mosley, race co-director (with Cliff “Grub” Simpson) said the race was still evolving.
“Fleet Feet Carrboro is bringing in a lot of folks who’ve never done a trail race,” she said. “This year we had a nice U-Haul track for the timing crew, and also a medical tent. We had a record number of finishers this year, because we had the same number of registrants as last year — 650 — but we also have great weather this year.”
Another change this year was the option to sign up for both of the Trailheads’ races — the Little River and the Philosopher’s Way Trail Runs — with a $5 discount.
“We’re going to have prizes for the best combined time through both races,” Mosley said.
Conversely, Mike Armstrong, who has run in all 10 of the Little River races, said what he likes about the race is that it hasn’t changed that much.
“I’m running about the same times, and the crowd is pretty much the same,” Armstrong said. “Like with all the Trailheads’ races, it’s not about going fast—it’s about having a great time with a community of runners.”
While race registrations mean higher donations to the park ($51,000 through nine years), some money is came pouring in on its own, including almost $500 in additional contributions.
Little River park manager Mike DiFabio said the donations have been invaluable.
“We’ve been able get a ton of new amenities which help us give back to the public,” he said, “like providing ongoing educational programs for adults and kids, and we’ve got our night sky stargazing sessions.”
Programs like these put Little River on the map for 47,000 visitors in 2014, up nearly 20 percent from the previous year. Still, DiFabio has seen nothing but sensible stewardship over the past decade.
“We’ve fostered new relationships and developed new partnerships with groups who help us here,” he said.
Parks Conservation Technician Michelle Pesavento said the money was secondary to the exposure.
“It’s been about letting people know we’re out here and that they have this resource,” she said. “We’d been a hidden gem for a time, but…we also want people to come out and enjoy themselves.”
“The TrailHeads will now focus on their next race, the Philosopher’s Way Trail Runs in Chapel Hill on May 2, 2015, with registration to begin soon through the Trailheads’ website (http://www.trailheads.org/).
As for future of the Little River Trail Runs, some feel the race has reached its limits to growth.
“Numbers have increased pretty much to our capacity here,” DiFabio said. “(Park and Ride) is something we could seriously look into, or we could set up meeting places (for carpoolers)…I guess now’s the Trailheads’ chance to get creative.”
Whatever the next decade or two holds for Little River, chances are the years will pass for most Trailheads at light speed. For some future winner — perhaps one not even born yet — a Little River victory is a lifetime away.
Little River Trail Runs
Overall: 1st, Jack McAdams, Durham, 26:56.1. 2nd, Curtis Swisher, Kernersville, 27:19.2. 3rd, Brett Haensel, Raleigh, 27:29.9.
Masters: Conrad Hall, Durham, 29:07.9.
14 & under: Danny McAdams, Durham, 28:51.9.
15-19: Keeton Glenn, Raleigh, 29:47.1.
20-29: Mark Herzog, Durham, 27:31.9.
30-39: Shawn Nocilla, Roxboro, 29:36.1.
40-49: Brad Hecker, Mebane, 31:28.9.
50-59: Eric Ward, Durham, 32:24.6.
60 & over : Eric Teagarden, Chapel Hill, 35:31.8.
Overall: 1st, Allison Peters, Kernersville, 29:49.2. 2nd, Lauren Hagedorn, Durham, 30:51.6. 3rd, Christina Kim, Durham, 31:14.6.
Masters: Jamie Dilweg, Chapel Hill, 33:00.1.
14 & under: Ceara Gannon, Durham, 31:55.7.
15-19: Mary Gates Pierce, Durham, 37:25.1.
20-29: Erica Nakajima, Penn., 32:30.7.
30-39: Drewallyn Riley, Chapel Hill, 32:52.4.
40-49: Virginia Hall, Durham, 35:47.6.
50-59: Elaine Estes, Morrisville, 42:16.0.
60 & over: Mary Amiano, Georgia, 45:02.3.
Overall: 1st, Scott Spillman, Colorado, 1:03:36.4. 2nd, Andrew Baker, Durham, 1:03:53.8. 3rd, Amadeo Iraheta Mej
Masters: Paul Francis, Durham, 1:08:23.5.
19 & under: Juan Pablo Gonzalez, Durham, 1:18:01.1.
20-29: Connor Belson, Chapel Hill, 1:09:40.0.
30-39: Keith Gerarden, Chapel Hill, 1:11:20.1.
40-49: David Dunson, Chapel Hill, 1:12:39.2.
50-59: Erik Legg, Hillsborough, 1:23:18.6.
60 & over: Sam Ravenel, Cary, 1:36:02.9.
Overall: 1st, Katie Hume, Carrboro, 1:13:02.5. 2nd, Sara Crippen, Chapel Hill, 1:20:43.6. 3rd, Elizabeth Foster, Durham, 1:21:09.9.
Masters: 1 Shannon Johnstone, Cary, 1:25:27.7.
19 & under: Caroline Barrows, Fuquay Varina, 2:06:59.7.
20-29: Leah Bishop, Chapel Hill, 1:22:28.0.
30-39: Lisa Hecker, Mebane, 1:23:06.3 .
40-49: Margo Pitts, Raleigh, 1:26:03.1.
50-59: Laura Heyneman, Chapel Hill, 1:31:51.2.
60 & over: Catherine Wides, Durham, 1:41:26.3.