by Jeff Kohmstedt
I’ve run two races in a weekend before, but I’ve never done two races in one day. That’s a new level of stupidity for me.
April 1st was both the Run for the Library 5k in Mahomet and the Allerton Trail Half Marathon at Allerton Park just outside of Monticello. I blame Nic Carter for my choosing to run both races. You see, last year Nic and I competed in the Run for the Library, but I ran the 10k and he won the 5k. Then a couple of weeks ago at Mt. Goat, he mentioned he was going to run both Mahomet and Allerton again this year. I stupidly thought that sounded like a good idea.
Now don’t get me wrong, Nic’s a really great guy, but he’s a bad influence. I mean, somewhere along the way I’ve got to think for myself.
“Jeff, is this really a good idea running two races in one day?” I asked myself.
“But Nic’s doing it,” I replied. “If he can, I can. Right?”
So, we toe the line in Mahomet for the 8am start, and we’re like, “We’ve got this.” I figure if we run twenty-minute 5ks and it’s a 35-minute drive from Mahomet to Monticello, we’ll have five minutes to make it to the 9am start of Allerton. Potty breaks just won’t be possible.
With all this churning in our minds, the air horn sounds, and we’re off. As you’d imagine, there’s a group of middle schoolers (a gaggle of middle schoolers?) that takes off like bats out of hell and head to the front of the field. There’s a couple of older dudes that take the lead and never give it up, but they’re not the ones in my sights. It’s the middle schoolers. Now, some of you know what it’s like to be at the front of a race with middle schoolers ahead of you, but for those of you who don’t, middle schoolers like to beat older people. It’s in their nature. You’d think that because they’re younger they’d realize that beating their elders is wrong. But they don’t. As a mid-forties runner, I don’t leap to the front of a race any more. I tend to hang back a bit and work my way up. That’s what happened this time.
I come up alongside a kid, and he sort of looks up at me. There’s a look of panic in his eyes, and he digs deep, trying to reach his friend that’s about 15 feet in front of us. He makes a valiant effort, but he’s quickly vanquished. One down, I think. I pass his friend. Two down. Then there’s another kid about two miles into the race. We’ve just passed the water station, and we make that left that heads towards the path, and our turn back. I just barely pass him and he kicks it. He passes me, but I now see the last middle schooler ahead of us. There’s no way I’m letting that guy beat me. So I dig deep, and pass the one kid that was next to me and the last one! I can hear him the whole rest of the way breathing heavily, but I’m just not going to let someone thirty years my junior beat me. Not this day.
Bam, I cross the finish line and don’t bother stopping. I don’t turn back to look for Nic either. We drove separately; he’ll figure it out.
I jump in the car and head for Allerton. With my car Nic Carter and Jeff Kohmstedt stand at the start line in Mahomet, anticipating what two races in a morning is going to feel like. navigation on, it’s clear I’ve got plenty of time. And doing the speed limit on a Saturday was no problem. I get to the park with seven minutes to spare. Now if the people would just get out of the way so I can park, I’d be fine.
A quick change of shoes and a ditching of gloves, and I’m ready. At the starting line, I catch up with Nic and fist bumps all around. We’re ready.
And we’re off… again.
I take this race a little easier than I thought I would. Trails aren’t my forte, and I’ve only run Allerton at the Second Wind race in October. Plus, I’d just run a 5k. Do you blame me for taking it easy? As I get settled, I run with Jeff Olson, and we’re together all the way up until about half a mile to go as the stairs and terrain finally get to me. I think we got passed by only a couple of people.
Nic, unfortunately, pulled out of the race after feeling some knee pain. I’m bummed because I was so looking forward to an after photo to go with the before. Still, he made a gallant effort to do the double this year. Pain gets in the way, sometimes.
For me, I’m completely satisfied with the run. I came in third in the 5k and first in my age group at Allerton. More importantly, it was an awesome day with friends and fun in two places. I can’t say if I’ll do the double next year, but it was a challenge I’ll never forget.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of In Passing.