Monday, December 14, 2009

Jingle Jog? It was kind of a jungle out there

And now we pause for a moment to take a brief look back at what was apparently a pretty wacky Jingle Jog 5K on Saturday morning, through the eyes of the winner.

Chaz Hinkle of Charlotte ran a 17:17 to beat out Huntersville's Nathan Stanford (17:47) and Charlotte's Alejandro Arreola (18:00) in the Thunder Road-related event, but it sounds like things didn't go as smoothly as Hinkle had hoped. (Twelve-year-old Alana Hadley finished fourth overall and won the female division in 18:17; more on her in a minute.)

"The route doubles back on itself," says Hinkle, 44. "You run down Third Street, down by the hospital, then back up Third Street. Well, they didn't funnel the runners coming down the hill into the left lanes. So as I am coming up the hill, I am literally facing four lanes of curb-to-curb runners -- thousands of them, coming down the hill in the opposite direction.

"I did have a lead police car, but there were so many folks coming downhill that even the police car got caught in the flow. I ended up actually having to pass the police car, hop up on the sidewalk, and essentially fend for myself for about 300 meters.

"For the most part, people saw me coming and hopped out of the way, but it was a little bit hairy for awhile, and the sidewalk was cracked and uneven. ... The cop got back around me, and he apologized profusely, but I don't think it was his fault at all. They should have just had a couple volunteers -- or maybe just cones -- at McDowell guiding people to keep left."

Hinkle and others also say there was no clock at either the Mile 2 or the Mile 3 split. "I was going for a PR, so knowing the splits was important for me. Without them, I ended up kind of getting lost on pacing and ended up missing my PR goal by a good bit."

And then there was this:

Photos by David Norton

Uh, what the heck just happened there, Chaz?

"They were trying to roll out the finish line tape. It was a big long vinyl strip with velcro in the middle. But in the 30-something degree temperature, the vinyl was stiff and wouldn't unroll. The (UNCC) mascot dropped his end, panicked, and tried to pick it back up again as it curled back up and as I closed in on the finish."

We're just glad no one got hurt.

* * *

Alana Hadley agreed the race was somewhat chaotic.

In an e-mail this evening, she wrote: "I thought the course was a good one except for on the way back ... when we ran into the outgoing runners and had to dash onto the uneven sidewalk for a while to get some clear space."

But it was otherwise a great way for Hadley to cap a great year of racing during which she picked up wins at several local races, including the Charlotte Turkey Trot 8K, the Summer Breeze 5K, the Twilight 5K, the Shamrock 4-Miler, and the Cupid's Cup 5K.

"In all, I was happy with my effort and was glad to get the win to finish the year off with," she says. "I am taking a couple of weeks of easy running now over the holidays, and then I'll start getting ready for a new cycle to start 2010."


Anonymous said...

Agreed - coming back down 3rd I ended up having to run in the curb to get by - it was crazy - 4 lanes wide of people, mostly walking. Everybody was having fun, but it would have been nice to have somebody there to get the outbound participants to move over.

Anonymous said...

Well maybe if the runners were running in a speedway oval or a school track, then they wouldn't have to worry about running into runners running in the opposite direction and traffic wouldn't have to be rerouted for such an event.

Anonymous said...

Anon - did it inconvenience you personally or are you just a scrooge all year round? Your comment is inane and irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I was in the massive crowd of runners coming down 3rd street. We didn't have anyone directing us to get over until the front runners literally ran into us coming the other way! A little unorganized at that point, but it was a great family event with all the girls from the Girls on the Run program. I ran with my daughter (her 1st 5K) and so many people were cheering her on. Thanks to all the organizers & volunteers! Can't wait to do it next year!

Anonymous said...

Living in a city provides certain advantages. Sometimes there are very minor inconveniences that come with it, too. One of those is that activities sometimes take place. Such as a race. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a 44 yr old male winner and a 12 yr old female winner. Amazing. Certainly a diverse running community we have in Charlotte. :-)

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should just drive around and around in your driveway and you wouldn't have to worry about getting in the way of the largest race in the city.