Pine Run 2002,

By David Yon

A warm day reinforced one of the harsh lessons of Pine Run. If you fail to respect this beautiful course, you will pay a heavy price. International Paper, Oak City Runners Club and GWTC celebrated the 25th anniversary of the event (and I think the 26th running) as temperatures climbed into the 80’s. Sweat soaked bodies struggled to cross the finish line after climbing up and down the hills that dominate the memories of runners who complete this forest run. Tim Bolton and Tim Unger were the first two runners to survive the course and cross the finish line. Rather than battle each other they choose to “run it in together” and captured the title in 1:23:27. Jane Johnson produced a strong effort to win the women’s title in 1:26:40. Reid Vannoy was the male master winner with a time of 1:24:03. (My apologies, but I did not get the women’s masters winner. Hopefully, I will have complete results on Monday.)

The course starts on a hill and the first half mile or so is seductively fast as it rolls downhill. Somewhere after the first mile though the course begins a steady climb up and before the runners reach the four mile mark they must summit the “twin mountain peaks” on the main road. Those who try to hang on to that first mile pace during this climb may find the last eight plus miles feeling like the final six miles of a “post wall crashing” marathon. But no matter the pain, participants in this event seem to find a smile and a sense of satisfaction as they wander around after the race listening to music and enjoying the refreshments. Tony Kronenburg finished his 22nd Pine Run, tying Dave Sheffield’s record for most races run. I believe Rex Cleveland became the third runner to finish 20 times or more.