Forget ultra-running, Murphys 5k real challenge

Right from the start I knew I was in trouble. Most races I run begin on level ground. This one? Not so much.

On June 2, my friend John and I ran in the inaugural Run Like Goose 5k in Murphys. It was a simple out-and-back course, but there was nothing simple about the race for this seasoned runner.

John has run a few 5k races and goes out for a mile here and there. In the six years I’ve been running, I’ve run about four 10-mile races, two 20-milers, 22 half marathons (13.1 miles), eight marathons (26.2 miles), two 50k ultras (31 miles) and roughly six 5k (3.1 miles) races.

It has been about four years since I’ve run a 5k. When I started running longer races, I admittedly turned my back on them. Why should I run something that takes me less time to run than it takes to get ready to run a race?

Forget ultra-running, Murphys 5k real challenge

Marc Lutz

My best time to run 3.1 miles is about 24 minutes. It takes me about 30 minutes to get ready to run what with getting dressed, making sure my hydration bottle is ready and other minutiae.

Keep in mind that I live in Lodi, so it’s just over an hour to get to Murphys. So it would take me roughly 90 minutes to prepare and get to a race that would take me less than 30 minutes to run … barely.

Lodi reminds me a lot of Calaveras County because it’s a tight-knit community. Everybody knows everybody. I went to the grocery store last week and ran into four people that I know. One of the ways in which the city differs from the county I work in? It’s flat. The only hills are underpasses and overpasses and those are on the outskirts.

Murphys – like most Mother Lode towns – has hills.

The Run Like Goose 5k is a race that benefits the Live Like Goose nonprofit that goes to support the healing of trauma. It’s a good cause, and I covered the story a few weeks back. I wanted to lend my support beyond simply telling readers about it. I asked John if he’d like to join me and he was more than happy.

About 25 people gathered at the starting point just over the bridge past Murphys Community Park on Algiers Street. Folks from all over Calaveras County, the Central Valley and Bay Area were in attendance. There were even people from as far away as Colorado and Georgia. Organizers spoke briefly and the race began promptly at 9 a.m.

The road ascended toward 6 Mile Road, on which we took a right and headed up an even steeper grade on the way to Ironstone Vineyards. Did I mention it was daylight? It was daylight and it was already 71 degrees. I’m used to running before the sun comes up. In cooler temperatures. On flat roads.

Though John and I started together, I soon lurched ahead, huffing and puffing all the way along the country lane, with cows spectating from the shady places. A little kid with an unlaced shoe passed me. A second wind soon propelled me ahead of the short showoff.

I greeted John as I returned from the turnaround point and he was getting to it.

“Is this a 10k? This feels like a 10k,” he said, a little winded.

Eventually I made it to the finish line, coming in at 28:33.7. Not too bad. John wasn’t far behind, coming in at 32:02.

I dripped sweat, marveling at just how out of practice I was at the 5k. Never again will I take these amazing “tiny” races for granted.


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