This is the goofy race I just can't miss, and it was another good day at the local 5k that loops around downtown Bremerton three times. The start is less than two miles from my doorstep, so I woke up late, warmed up on the way over, registered and was ready to go 20 minutes later. A few strides up and down Pacific while watching the 1 mile, and it was time to race.
This 5k always brings out the Olympic High XC team, because their coach is race director. They must have a down year coming, no studs in this group. There was one young guy up front in a Kenya shirt (definitely not a Kenyan though) I figured I'd race with, and another North Kitsap runner I recognized. Unlike every other Blackberry Fest race I've done, the high schoolers didn't sprint from the gate. I had to set the pace alongside the Kenyan, and we moved out ahead for the first mile. He surged right around a mile and I didn't have a response, so he was on his own from there and I ran mile 2 alone. At the second mile marker the NKHS runner, Ian Chastain, easily passed me and politely said "Nice job, sir." Officially an old man now. He's a smart runner and was moving well, but I didn't have a gear to stick on his tail. I was frozen in my upper body and just trying to keep my pace steady.
At 2.5 another high school kid tried to pass, but this time it didn't work. He worked up a hill to get me but didn't put a surge on after passing, so I sat there for 20 yards and then took the lead back and started my kick. He kicked too late and couldn't quite catch me (the finish chute is a really short after a sharp turn, so you need to know it's coming). So, third place and a respectable 17:34.
After a short cool down with my neighbor Tony, we helped pack up the finish line stuff and waited for awards. The clock stayed up and running though. About 1:11:00 after the 5k began, I saw the last three runners -- a woman and two girls that were maybe 4 -- turn the corner toward the line. Soon everyone noticed them and began to cheer them in. The woman and one girl crossed, but the other froze two steps from the finish and wouldn't budge. No one could coax her across the line for some reason. She sat down in the middle of the street. Her mother got disgusted and walked away, the meltdown began, and she ended up turning and walking away the other direction. So, at least one DNF on the day.