Springtime 10K winners overcome challenge of hilly course
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
A constant drizzle didn’t bother either of the winners of the featured 10K in this year’s Springtime Race. Just the hills and sharp turns along the rolling course presented the biggest challenge.
Somehow, though, Roger Schmidt and Adriana Piekarewicz managed to power their way to first-time victories in the Saturday morning race. Both had plenty of preparation, spending the last eight weeks with a practice running group through the Myers Park neighborhood that makes up a large portion of the course.
“There are four real steep distinct spots that can put some pause on the legs,” said Schmidt, who took the men’s division in 34:09. “It takes some guts to run through it. It’s just a challenging course because it’s kind of a rhythm buster.”
In fact, that’s the reason that Piekarewicz has run the race just once before in 2013. A hill at the end of the course kept her away all this time, she said, following her victory in a time of 39:09.
“I knew the first mile was going to be fast; it was a big downhill,” she said. “I told myself to stay relaxed then I tried to push through number two and three (miles) because those were pretty rolling. I didn’t want to go too crazy; just a good solid effort.”
While she ran the last two miles uncontested by any other woman, Schmidt was surrounded by a field that included multi-time winner Chris Lake and a few of the top runners on the regional circuit.
Setting the pace in such an impressive field provided an adrenaline rush, he said.
“It feels good,” Schmidt said. “Running in the pack of talented runners takes the pressure off. You don’t feel like you have to take the challenge on alone. I could hear them breathing hard when I’m breathing hard so I know they are working as hard as I am.”
But he admitted he had to be strategic and not forget what he learned about the course during his prep runs.
“Having knowledge of the course and being able to say, ‘I can kick out the last little bit and say hey I can crest five miles and then crush it in from there,’ is a lesser burden on the mind.”
Conditions throughout the race were humid, but the morning drizzle made it manageable as runners pushed through. As persistent as the rain was, Piekarewicz said she learned from her days as a runner at Maclay School not to be bothered by conditions.
Saturday reminded her of the days when her coach Gary Droze taught her how to endure.
“He would always say the weather is going to be rainy and cold, but whatever it was it was always perfect for me,” she said. “I told myself everyone is going to be freaking out about the rain but it wouldn‘t affect me.”