RACE: Flight of the Hawks 5K, also known as Hawk Run
WHEN:Evening of the last Friday in June
WHERE:University High School cross-country course, Bakers Ridge Road, Morgantown, W.Va.
COURSE: Grass, gravel, asphalt, wooden bridges
WEATHER: Rain, then hot, humid and sunny
CAUSE: University High School’s cross-country team
OTHER: This was the fifth race in the 2013 Morgantown Area Grand Prix series.
RACE ITSELF: After raining hard all day, the clouds parted for what promised to be a challenging run. About 10 minutes before the race started, the rain come down … hard. The sun peaked through the clouds, and gave racers a full rainbow to head toward. Would we find that fabled gold at the end or just heartache? The course would decide that. The races started out with a loop around a grassy field with a gentle and deceptive slop. After toughing it up a hill, we made our way to the front of the high school’s campus. By now, it stopped raining and it was humid. Then we climbed more hills and went down some. The challenging course held up pretty well in the rain. It was the kind of wet trail that would soak your socks, but wasn’t slick enough to make you fall. But it was one hill after another. No wonder Millie Paladino — the 2012 girls’ cross-country champion for the state of West Virginia — goes to this school. You’d have to be awesome if you ran this course regularly. Also, the course was marked with arrows and flags. People stood at some course areas to keep runners going in the right direction.
AFTER THE RACE: The athletic boosters put out a great picnic spread — vegetables, fruits, hot dogs, pasta, sweets, etc. The results were posted on a computer as they came in, so while you waited for your food, you could see the results.
PERSONAL NOTES: I got to see Jim Bailey — my favorite 72-year-old runner — again. This time I was only a minute behind him, though I didn’t see him after the first mile. My kids got to cheer me on at several points while staying in the same area. That was pretty cool. I did well in my age group — second. But I really need to learn how to survive the uphill climbs better. I feel like my legs are OK, but my upper body doesn’t know what to do. Maybe my pot of gold wasn’t my trophy, but rather the experience of surviving a tough course and having the drive to do it again.