2021 Gristmill Grinder


 img e2420 2

2021 Grinder - Just Amazing. Once again we were able to come together (socially distanced mind you) and hit the trail at Babcock State Park. Near ideal weather conditions - 40's in the morning with a bit of sun then as it slowly warmed to 50 the cloud cover rolled in to keep us cool. No rain at all until I was pulling the last cones on the course at about 4pm. It was SO good to be able to run the Grinder again, a highlight of my year. We had a great packet pickup at Ace Adventure Gear in Fayetteville. Lots of folks took advantage of it and a solid crew of volunteers were there, many of them locals. More on that "Volunteer" topic later;-D

Race day felt great, people were masked up, I was there early and so was Zeke! Apparently we were anxious to have this race back- unfinished business. If you have been to that Picnic Area you know there is lots of room to spread out at the Start/Finish and people used it all! As we had our prerace meeting people still stayed spread out, thank you for being respectful of others. I was proud of you for that. Judging by the show of hands from 1st timers at the Grinder maybe a full 1/3 of the group were there for their first time! WOW. Another show of hands showed some 5 time vets and even some 10 time vets - my hat is off to you and I will go outside and ring a cowbell in your honor when I am done here! (I did ring the bell BTW) Since we are using chip timing the runners time starts when they cross the mat - the clock is irrelavant, it's just a reference point. So regardless of when you start your time is accurate. We had a wave start with 20ish people in the waves. some people wanted more space and started in between waves. It really worked so well. Once all the runners head out it's time for our 5K group to toe the line. It is 5K to the Gristmill and back on the road. There is also the option of adding the first trail section of the half marathon to your course if you like which adds a mile or so of well marked high quality trail. It's great for family and friends and we can all use the exercise right? 

As is usual we had some suprises at the Finish. Our Overall Male two top finishers ran together the entire course at a 6:48 pace. Adam Coon from Meadow Bridge WV and a previous winner of the race set the pace and Colton Lee, a cross country runner from Knoxville TN stayed right with him. At the finish it was still a side by side run and Colton managed to get a foot to the line first - by half a second! Colton was 1:28:59.1 and Adam was 1:29:00.4. Adam was smiling and so was Colton, that's what racing is all about right there. Oh, Colton Lee is 16 years old! Meanwhile, out in the woods, the Women had a race going on at the same time. Out in front was Kristen Eddy from Herndon VA. Kristin has been here many times and has won as Overall Female. An injury and then surgery had her out for a while but it is safe to say she is back and running strong. Kristin won Overall Woman this year with a time of 1:48:52.5. Our second Overall Female was Amy Lochow from Huntington WV with a time of 1:58:27.00. Congratulations to you all!!

For complete results go here 

Now a word about those Volunteers - The Volunteers make it all happen. They are the pieces that come together and show up early, stay late, make signs, ring cowbells, and use sidewalk chalk to lead you and motivate you back to the finish line. They text me at all hours and answer texts at all hours. Amazing. This year with our Covid precautions part of the protocol was no contact Aid Stations. Cups on the table, clearly labeled. No handing them out just cheering you on from a distance. I went to both Aid Stations during the race and both were high energy as always. and no contact. It was pretty amazing to see. Many thanks go out to all the volunteers that came out to help - YOU are awesome.

Lastly, thanks to all the participants - we did it - we made it happen again. We kept it safe and respectful of all others I believe. I am always so happy when I see the Babcock races come together and the beautiful trail running community joyfully runs through the woods. Thanks for believing and coming to run with us!! Happy Trails until we meet at Babcock again ~

We hope to see you at Sticks & Stones 15K in October!