As co-founder of Revolution Bio-Based Lubricants, a distributor of eco-friendly lubricants and cleaning products, one would presume that Mike Jones knows a bit about sustainability. As director of the inaugural Race to Sustainability 6K (3.7-mile) trail run, however, Jones found himself depending on energy sources that were definitely not sustainable.
“I didn’t sleep at all last night, so I’m being held up by Redbull and desperation,” a weary Jones explained, chuckling, “and those are two powerful stimulants.”
Because of the previous night’s high winds and torrential rains that ravaged Carolina North Forest, through which the race would be run, Jones and other organizers weren’t sure if the race would even happen.
“The Carolina North Forest has a cancellation policy with respect to wear on the trails,” Jones said, “and I didn’t know if they were going to cancel. With all that rain, I was concerned.”
Carolina North Forest Manager Greg Kopsch was pleased with the way the trails held up through Friday’s storms, however, and he gave organizers the go-ahead.
“It was less (severe) than our cut-off point, and it didn’t look bad when I came out,” Kopsch said. “There was one smaller limb down, but it wasn’t a problem.”
Still, with the race in doubt, Jones said he had to wait until early Saturday to set up the course.
“I had to get up around four o’clock this morning to mark the course with flour and lay down survey tape,” Jones said Saturday morning, “but then we lost the survey tape because it was five o’clock, and we were stumbling through the woods.”
Navigating the woods with a bit more grace and alacrity was overall race winner Anthony Corriveau (28:15.00), no stranger to trails himself.
“I do trail runs all the time – I ran the Philosopher’s Way this past spring,” Corriveau said. “There were a couple little muddy spots today, a couple logs to jump over … but I love these trails, they’re great trails.”
Finishing first among women was UNC Library Science graduate student Allyson Smally (36:02.40), 26, who found the elements above the ground more challenging than mud puddles.
“It was really muggy,” she said, “but it was shady.”
“It was so humid, and you could feel it in your head – you get a headache – but the aid stations were great,” Corriveau said. “I took the water and just dumped it on my head, and that just cooled me right off.”Fruition
The Race to Sustainability 6K trail run celebrated local organizations’ efforts to adopt and promote sustainable practices within the community and state, as well as to raise awareness of what everyone can do to help keep North Carolina green, the race website said. All proceeds go to the Carolina North Forest Management’s work to maintain the forest and to NC GreenPower’s efforts to improve the environment.
Jones said the race was the natural fruition of relationships between his company and other ecologically friendly concerns in the area.
“One of the first companies we thought of working with was Chapel Hill Tire, because I’m familiar with some of the things they’ve done, such as environmentally-friendly oil changes,” he said. “We’ve also started a nonprofit renewable energy company, and we’ve gotten to know NC GreenPower in that capacity, and also Green Plus.”
While eco-friendly organizations tabled just past the finish line, Crooks Corner satisfied everyone’s taste buds with its signature shrimp and grits, (vegetarian) feathered eggs, fresh fruit and danishes.Winners
Making their way to the food lines first among women after the overall winner were 19-and-Under division winner Kara Stonecypher (39:44.73), 20-29 winner Katherine Harmon (37:14), and 30-39 bracket gold medalist Kathryn Nelson (37:11.17). Finishing first among 40-49 women was Kelly Mieszkalski (37:28.03), while Elizabeth Daaleman (48:48.68) captured the 50-59 division.
Among the men, age-group winners included 19-and-under medalist Matthew Jordan, 18, of Lexington. (29:22.79) and Will Powell (28:47) in the 20-29 bracket. Douglas Hensel (33:01) struck gold among 30-39 men. Neil Harris (34:31.42) was first among the 40-49 crowd, while Casey Kopczynski (37:07) captured the men’s 50-59 crown, and Jeff Branin (40:20.21) of Wake Forest won the men’s 60-and-Over bracket.
With the race behind him Saturday morning, Jones said he foresaw at least one future incarnation of the race onsite. “I think we’d do it here at least one more year,” he said. “Everyone’s saying they had a really good time, and I guess it sort of came together – I don’t know how.”
With surprisingly minimal wear and tear on the muddy trails, Kopsch said he’s always happy to introduce runners to the forest.
“I love to have people here,” he said. “I love hearing people say, ‘I’ve never run here before, this is great.’”
For many runners, it was a fitting introduction to the resource that is the forest’s trail system, though some had to get used to running on single-track trails.
“You’ve got to watch where you’re going,” first-time trail runner Michelle Dellascio said. “It was really exciting, because there was either mud, or there was a downhill with just rocks. But it was cool running this way, because you were more focused on not falling than how tired you were. In a way, it was good for my endurance.”
Despite twisting her ankle during the run, Jessica Focht was also enamored of the trails. “You’re not thinking about how you feel,” she pointed out. “You’re thinking about where your feet are going.”
“I’ve never really run a trail race before and it was really fun,” female overall top-finisher Smally said. “I really liked this.”Next up
“We’ll be hosting Carrboro High School cross-country meets this fall,” Kopsch said.
“We’re still expecting the Pumpkin Run to be this October, and we’re working with Fleet Feet Sports on that. We should have the Pumpkin Loop ready for the race.”
Next spring, local trail running enthusiasts the Trailheads will again stage the Philosopher’s Way Trail Runs.
In the meantime, Jones will use newly gained knowledge to help build on the race’s profile and turnout. First, however, would be the inevitable energy drink and adrenaline “crash” and ensuing three-day nap.
“Yeah,” Jones said, laughing. “That’s the plan.”