This year's Animal Save Run 5K/10K in Nevada City marked the fourth race of the Gold Country Grand Prix series (not including the kids' run). The race is held on the same exact course as the Spring Run, which we had raced three weeks ago (in 42:27). A lot of runners showed up and many of them brought their dogs. The unique thing about this race is that dogs get their own race numbers and win prizes just like the runners do. Attendance at the races has been at record levels this year and this race seemed like no exception. Everybody was in good spirits and the weather was beautiful.
The Grand Prix series is based on a points system. The person that places first in his or her age group gets 10 points, second gets 7, third 5, fourth 3, and everybody else gets 1 point. I was going into this race with a perfect age group score (30 points in 3 races), but that was about to change.
Nevada's City's Larry Defeyter, who had won first place in the 30-39 age group on "the other side," in the Daffodil run and Spring run 5K races decided to switch over to the 10K this time. He had not run the Salmon Run last week, so I figured he would be hard to beat, but I was going to give it my best shot. I guess I could have switched to the 5K to try to keep up the perfect age group score, but I decided a while back that I would stick to the longest possible distance that any GP event has to offer, since these races are ultimately speedwork for the longer races coming up. There is one half marathon race in the series on June 23rd, so that will be exciting!
The Animal Save course is out and back with about 1800 feet elevation change. The first half is mostly down, Miles 4-5.5 are pretty much uphill, and the finish is on a brutal 20% grade for about 0.1 mile.
The start was once again fast and furious. We sped down the hill and then settled into a steady pace. After a little bit, Larry passed me and I followed him closely for about a mile and a half. After that, he slowly pulled away, but I decided not to push too hard to keep up with him, since we had a long uphill coming up on the way back. It was also a lot hotter than it was three weeks ago, in part due to the 9 a.m start (half an hour later than the Spring Run).
We reached the turnaround point and I quickly swallowed a half Hammer gel packet and I downed two small cups of water. Last time, I did not "hammer" or drink anything at the aid station, but this time drinking was a must, because I was already feeling dehydrated. I thought that the Hammer gel would also give me a boost at the right time and I was right; I shaved about 20 seconds of my previous time, due to a stronger finish.
It was fun to see all the dogs on the course. My kids' friend Hayes had also switched to the 10K after successfully completing last week's Salmon Run and I met him and Sean on the way back. Both of them were looking good.
By mile 4, Larry was out of sight, and I just kept running a steady pace up the hills, while still hammering the downhills. I met last week's winner, Chris Badolato, who had just won the 5K and he told me I was running strong and had about a half mile to go. I kicked it up a notch in the hope that I might get another glimpse of Larry, but I did not see him. At the last turn, I quickly looked over my shoulder, but there was nobody sneaking up on me either, so I just dashed up the hill and finished second overall in 42:08, less than two minutes behind Larry (I'll need to check the official results to verify this). V Neelakantan came in third, followed by Dean Garcia and Troy Vahidi, who came in strong, sprinting like it was a hundred-meter dash (and remember this is an almost vertical finish).
Hayes finished strong in about 1:03, good for first in the 13-15 age group and Sean sprinted to the finish about five minutes later, good for first in his 12 and under age group. He is now at the top of his age group in the GP standings with 37 points just like me. Rocky came in fourth (pending official results) in his age group over in the 5K run.
Animal Save Run 10K 1-mile Splits:
5:31, 6:32, 6:31, 6:59, 7:01, 7:42