Leading up to Saturday the weather was looking crazy for the Frostbite Half Marathon held annually in Starkville, MS. Forecasts were calling for stormy weather, mid 60°s temps, and 12 mile an hour winds from the south. The course is basically north to south, so head winds the entire way would have been terrible! Fortunately, the weather moved out of the area by the time the race started (12:30), and the wind changed direction to coming from the NNW. Temperatures dropped to mid/low 50’s and it was overcast the entire time. Not bad really!
Just before noon the 300 plus entrants loaded a bunch of school buses and rode down Hwy 389 to the start 13.1 miles away in Pheba, MS. At about 12:30 pm, the race started and they began the trek back toward the Wellness Center at the Oktibbeha County Hospital.
The race is deceivingly difficult as it starts off moderately flat, but then the next 7 miles or so you are treated to rolling hills. At the 10 mile mark the course transforms into a beast with a steep hill that is almost a mile long with several smaller hills still remaining. This last 5k portion is what separates the real runners from everybody else! I am pretty sure that during a 2 mile stretch in there nobody could keep the same pace that they had kept for the previous 10 miles! Being in Starkville, we knew many people in the race, although lots of folks came from out of town and out state. Met some pretty cool new folks including some guys that had ran for the University of West Alabama. If fact, one of them, Jonathan Sellers, won the race with his respectable 1:16:06. As well as he ran, he was not actually the first runner to finish. A friend of my son’s from Corinth, Kyle Suitor, who Joseph beat by a couple of seconds last year with a time in the 1:24 range, finished the race first, just ahead of Jonathan, but he was not registered so he did not get credited with the win. He arrived yesterday early to register, but this race does not allow race day registration. Just the same, he ran a great race, being in 2nd place for much of the race before finally overtaking the leader late. And what a dramatic difference in time from one year to the next! He graduated from Kossuth High School last year in Corinth where he was a good runner having placed 2nd in the XC state meet with a 17:04. I don’t know if he is running college now, but he running at a much higher level for sure!
The next finisher for the full half marathon was my son Joseph MacGown who got credited with 2nd place overall and 1st in the 19 and under age group with his 1:19:45 finish, which was 5 minutes faster than last year. This was really good for his age (15) and considering that he does not train for this length race. Instead, this was simply his weekly long run. When he finished he did not appear to be tired or sore, and ran a couple mile cool down. I was very happy to see him at the 10 mile mark under 1 hour. I am guessing he could probably run this distance in 1:16 or less if he trained for it. Additionally, Joseph was part of 2 person relay team in which his first half of the race counted as the first leg, even though he ran the whole race. His partner was Kamau Bostic who ran the 2nd leg. They won the relay event with a combined 1:18:04 beating the next team. Kamau ran a really strong second leg. Joseph ran with him some and almost caught him again, but by the time he got to the hard part of the race, it was evident that he had less gas in the tank and Kamau had basically just started. There were not many teams this year, but the competition was good and another team composed of two guys was had run college track at West Alabama each ran one leg of the relay. I am pretty sure they thought they would win, and I was extremely proud of Joseph and Kamau’s efforts and composure in beating them. In fact, Joseph’s individual 13.1 mile beat their combined time! One of the guys was very gracious and commented on the fact that were well trained.
Stuart Woomer and Mary Elizabeth (ME) Stringer, who also run Starkville High XC, paired up a team and did a great job. I don’t know their times or splits, but Mary Elizabeth, who ran the 2nd leg, crossed the finish line around 1:39. She has had some serious injuries the last couple of years, and it was great to see her running smoothly again. Hopefully, this will be cross over into the SHS track season she will have a banner year! Another girl from our XC team, Anna Jackson, won 2nd place in her age group with a time in the mid 1:40’s. Apparently, she had run with our buddy Steve Shaffer, and they pushed each other along the way! Way to go guys! Michael Lee, our superstar triathlete, finished up the race with a 1:31:23. Nice job. And, the results were littered with other folks we routinely run with, especially members of the Boardtown Running Club. Of those, Meggan Franks was amazing. She easily won the women’s division with her 1:20:08, which also good for 3rd overall. Her time smashed the previous course record by over 3 minutes. She looked particularly strong the last mile. Early in the race, she and Joseph had run together, which I think helped him tremendously in keeping the right pace. Thanks Meggan! Hopefully, he helped her a bit too.
Micah White (1:25:28), David Dycus (1:26), and Kelly White (1:26:11), all of whom we run with at the Boardtown group, also ran well. Another one of our XC runners, Damian Grady, did not register, but ran the 2nd leg trying to pace Kamau and Joseph, especially early on before they got ahead of him. However, his timing was good as at a mile to go, he was near Meggan, and I told him to push her. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I like the fact that he was out there helping other people in his own way!
Our own Starkville High head cross country coach Caroline Woomer PR’ed today with her 2:02 (don’t know the seconds), which was several minutes faster than her previous best time! Loads of other folks we know ran today, but obviously I can’t list them all. When results are posted I will put a link up.
Will be meeting at the South Farm today at 3 pm for a recovery type run, probably 7 miles or so.