Half the Speed, Twice the Glory

The following is a guest column by Dylan Jones, who completed the Renegade Santa Run 5k in Irvine, California in 32:17 (chip time 31:22; 10:06 mile pace). The winner of the 10k, Ryan Cosens, finished with a gun time of 32:18 (5:12 mile pace). 

I awoke with a mild headache and healthy dose of regret the morning of my Santa Claus 5k. I had no idea at the time, this was the day I would find running glory.

Most years I roll off the couch in November and start thinking about a diabolical annual tradition my younger siblings (both runners) invented years ago – “The Christmas Mile”. My training regimen includes signing up for the local Thanksgiving Turkey Trot and Santa Claus 5ks. My boys help me train by running around the block with me in the weeks prior to the big events.

Running is cruel to the unprepared. I can run faster (over very short distances) and jump higher than many fortysomethings, but there are no short-cuts at my age to these types of races. My goal this year for the 5Ks has been twofold; to log a sub 32-minute time; and to complete the races without walking. My broader goal for the Christmas Mile being to take down my 8-year-old nephew and 9-year-old niece, as this may be the last year to do so.

Standing in the herd at the start line with my wife and 12-year-old son, it was easy to get into the Christmas spirit. Lots of runners dressed as Santa, Santa’s reindeers, wrapped presents, and others draped in blinking Christmas lights. There were also a number of steely-faced serious “runners” around. Stretching, hopping, running little sprints and looking altogether unfriendly in their specialty running gear. They were crowding to the front, I was slinking toward the back. The 5K and the 10K races were sharing the start, and were to share the finish, so it was crowded.

The horn sounded, and we were off. My 12-year-old son shot off and disappeared immediately. My wife settled into a relentless pace about 30 yards in front of me and I locked on to her as my guide. We were pushing a 10-minute mile pace which felt challenging and terrible, and I was planning to catch and pass her. Two miles in I gave up on my dream of stealing glory from my wife, as her grinding pace was too much for me, mentally and physically. I slowed to a semi-shameful shuffle. My 32-minute goal was still in reach and the sun was warming me up a bit, so I endured and pushed on. The three-mile marker at the final turn told me I was close, and gave me a small boost of energy. I knew the finish line was just around a last little bend, and I wanted to look good for the crowd, so I picked up the pace.

At this moment, everything changed for me and my life as a hobby-jogger. An obnoxious biker startled me from behind and shouted “Move to the right! 10K leader coming through!” I turned to see a fully garbed, grim-faced runner finishing off his 30 minute 10K bearing down on me. I don’t know if it was the dismissive tone of the official on the bike, or I was just overcome with some deep-seeded instinct runners are probably familiar with, but all I could think in that moment was “I’m not letting this guy get past me”. The bend in the road ahead to the finish was empty, and the race was on.

I dropped into a full hysterical sprint as the two of us came around the corner, finish line in view. Just then the announcer called out “Here comes the 10K winner!” It occurred to me at that moment, that outside of the very different styles of dress and basic running technique, the crowd may be confused who the actual winner was. I dug deep and felt a surge of adrenaline and speed like I haven’t felt in years. People were cheering, and cameras were out, and they seemed to be pointed at me! I raised my fingers in the air like I saw Ben Johnson do when I was a kid, and flew across the finish line. I won!

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My wife at the finish line was less than impressed. I outkicked a legitimate runner, stole his glory, photo-bombed his finish and displayed immature and obnoxious behavior as I wagged my fingers in the air and bounded across the finish. In truth, the guy ran a 10K in the time it took me to jog my 5K. But there’s a deeper story. For a brief moment, I became a “runner” urged on by some deep instinctual spirit. I wonder if all those grim faced runners there had similar experiences that forged their determination at some point in their lives. All I know is I’ve been bitten by the runners bug, and can’t wait to get back out there.



Categories: Humor

12 replies

  1. What a dick, with your dad bod and goofy face.

  2. Extremely sad and embarrassed for you

  3. Cool story!

  4. I assure you that absolutely no one in the crowd was the least bit confused as to who may have been the winner of that 10k race.

    Your obliviousness to the situation is disrespectful to the running community.

    Cheers.

  5. Lmao at the salty commenters, it’s just a local race, no one’s winning any world championships here

    If they really cared why mix the two races

  6. Next time, before intentionally getting in the way of and disturbing the race of someone like this, consider that to run a 32 min 10k this person is likely running at least 70-80 miles per week, doing gym work, seeing a physio, etc. If you get in his way you’re basically disturbing what to him is the culmination of all of that work.

    I certainly wouldn’t brag about it online.

  7. You’re the man! Frame that photo. And make sure you tell thstvstory atvevery Christmas dinner for the next 40 years haha

  8. This is fu€king hilarious!

  9. You earned your glory. Don’t feel bad at all. You don’t owe anyone an apology. Very well done in the last kick. It is a great feeling.

  10. I think people need to get a life. If you didn’t obstruct the path of the 10k winner (or, runner up ;)). You had all the right to the race course and within the course cut off time limit, right to run any pace during any segment of the course (including finish line). Unless you broke a USATF rule, you shouldn’t let anyone embarrass you. And, I may be slightly faster than you (having run sub 40 10k’s) but in this case, you are my hero 🙂

    N.

  11. You brought a smile to my face on a Monday morning! Love that you experienced that competitive instinct. Blocking someone’s path and refusing to get out of the way is an uncool move, digging deep and sprinting is whole different world

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