24th Annual Groundhog Run 10K - January 29, 2006

Anyone who runs outside during the winter months in the Midwest can appreciate when Hunt-Midwest Subtropolis opens their "doors" to runners every year. The 24th annual Groundhog Run is a a great respite from the usually cold temps blanketing the country's midsection this time of year. This year, however, the temps outside have many days in the past few weeks matched those of the constant 50 degree temp of the caves.

Plagued by a lingering cold the past few days, I coughed and fitted throughout the night before the race, sleeping rather uneasily. Maybe it was also the anticipation of my first race since I had turned 50 years old last month?! This is a well-attended race and most of the big guns (fast area runners) show up for this one, so I wasn't expecting much other than to run a respectable time.

I like running barefoot in the caves! The asphalt is smooth and very barefoot friendly. Other than a few rough spots and a few railroad crossings in the caves, the surfaces are what I call of the "baby butt" variety -- nice and smooth!

(Left) - Rusty Collins, local RD and owner of Metro Walk and Run (Right) BJ the DJ getting fired up for the start!

When I got there about 9 a.m., the 5K was already in progress. I milled around and talked to few folks. The 10K started at 9:45 so I hung out by the start line and waited for the race to begin. The race started promptly at 9:45. First mile was about a 6:30 pace. (Maybe a little fast for me and the way I was feeling.) I slowed a little and talked to a few folks to pass the time. At various parts of the course, I belted out a few lines of that old Elvis Presley favorite, "You ain't nothin' but a groundhog, rockin' all the time". Those around me were kindly patient and didn't tell me to shut up. ,Also, I was getting quite a few comments about the groundhog hat I was sporting from Punxsutawney PA. I commented back that I had something in common with groundhogs and all other mammals (except most humans), that I RUN BAREFOOT!

So, I continued on my 10K way crossing the finish line at 44:57 (7:15 pace). I was hoping to beat my time of 44:48 of last year but ... hey! ... I got pretty close so I felt pretty good about my finish. I hung around the finish line because I knew Byron Rieper (aka Shoeless Slug) was running the 10K barefoot, also. I didn't see him before the race, but figured he must be behind me somewhere. Sure enough, Byron cruises in at 49:41. We spent some time together after the race chatting about how nice the asphalt surface was and also about upcoming races we hope to participate in barefoot.

(Right) Couldn't do these things without volunteers! (Left) Barefoot Byron (aka Shoeless Slug) and yours truly!


The groundhog hat was a big hit!

Lou Joline, local RD and runner extraordinaire! Lou is sporting a festive lid while "hawking"
for his Brew To Brew 44 Miler in March!

Overall Time: 44:57
Pace: 7:15
AG 50-54: 16th Place
Overall: 140th Place

Official Results with Pics from MARA (including a pic of Barefoot Rick!)

Overall, a good day of underground racing. I look forward to this race, yearly, and it seems to be getting better and better with every passing year.


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