Race Report by Statesboro Pacer, Danny Gleason

 

1/14/06 (originally scheduled for 12/16/05, but rescheduled due to ice storm), Paris Mountain 20K Road Race, hosted by the Greenville Track Club

 

Location: Furman University, Greenville, SC

 

Start of Race, Pacer, Danny in Center                                            Pacer, Nathan Kile

photos by by John Olson - john@scrunners.com
 

Billed as the “Oldest and Toughest Race in South Carolina,” the Paris Mountain Road Race just completed its 35th year. Nathan Kile and I [Danny Gleason] were there to represent the Statesboro Pacers and to experience the thrill and sheer masochism of climbing up and then back down Paris Mountain on this 20K (12.4 mile) loop course. For some reason, having known about this race since my days as a Furman undergraduate in the late 1970s (yes, all GSU faithful can boo now), I felt obligated to finally complete the event (apparently Furman gave me an education, but no common sense). Amazingly I was able to persuade Nathan, and Angie and Kurt Frederick to also participate! As the race application says, “Ignorance is bliss!”

 

The event was originally scheduled for Dec. 17, 2005, but an ice storm that went through the area knocking down trees and power lines and causing icy road conditions caused the Greenville Track Club to postpone the event to January 14, 2006. For most people that would be a sign to stay home! In fact, our number of Statesboro Pacer participants dropped by half because the rescheduling conflicted with another commitment that Kurt and Angie could not avoid (actually Nathan and I think they were at home chuckling the whole time).

 

Furman University sits at an elevation of 911 feet, the top of Paris Mountain at approximately 2,000 feet – I am sure you can do the math! That’s right, this run represents a climb of nearly 1,000 feet (you don’t go quite to the top)! For a couple of flat-landers like us that may as well be Mt. Everest! After a short ˝ mile or so jaunt through part of Furman we headed off campus for the climb to the top of Paris Mountain. Nathan and I lost each other at mile 1 as the field began to spread out. Still climbing at the third mile I thought, “I am never going to make it!” As I shuffled my way upward I kept praying that just around the next curve the road would level off or, better yet, start to decline. I am sure there were beautiful views, but I was huffing and puffing too hard to bother taking a look!

 

We finally reached the summit around mile 4 and with the hardest part over, so we thought, we settled in for three miles of downhill running. Unfortunately after the seven-mile mark began the rolling hills (imagine running up and down the hill on highway 67 that goes up to Burkhalter Road several times)! I am more convinced than ever that nowhere in up-state South Carolina is flat. Several of the down hills were quite steep and punished already fatigued quads. As Nathan described it at the end of the run, “Some of those ‘fall off the end of the world’ declines were rough!” Not to disappoint hill lovers, the race ends with a 1 mile gradual incline back to the front entrance of Furman followed by a flat (hallelujah!) 0.25 mile stretch to the finish.

 

I can honestly say this was one of the most challenging courses I have ever run! If there is a tougher race in South Carolina, I do not ever want to run it! As a matter of scale, the Paris Mountain Road Race makes the Savannah Bridge Run look like kid’s stuff! If you must test yourself, this race is a good place to do it. Though the race was tough, Nathan and I feel it was well worth it. The weather was beautiful, the race was well organized, and the volunteers along the course were vocal and attentive. Furman was an excellent venue for staging such an event (for example, hot showers were readily available making our 4+ hour drive back to Statesboro tolerable). Besides, both Nathan and I exceeded our expectations given the course and our level of training. I ran a 1:35:39 (7:42/mile pace) and Nathan ran a 1:39:58 (good enough for a 3rd place finish in his age group)!

 

Now that it has been more than 24 hours since the finish (and given the forgetfulness of aging brain cells), anybody up for doing this race with us next year?!

 

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