|HMRRC - Pentathlon - August 9, 2001|
Volunteers: Erle Daniels(scoring), Ed Neiles(timer), Steve Sweeney(timer), Dwight Wilson(finish cards), Pat Fitzgerald(water), Candic Poiss(water), Charlie Matlock(registration), Emily Bryans(refreshments), Tom Bulger(entertainment); Director: Vince Juliano.
On the second Thursday in August Governor Pataki made the unprecedented announcement that State Offices would be closing at 2PM due to the unusual heat and humidity that was draining limited power supplies. In his announcement, he suggested for his work force to seek something to do with their unexpected time off that didn't require turning on an air conditioner or using extra power. As I left my workplace, I wondered how he would have felt about my scheduled evening plans, to direct the infamous HMRRC PENTHALON!
Arriving at the Schenectady High School Track, I began to unload 10 gallons of water, 4 gallons of Gatorade, and blocks of ice that I felt was essential to any runner who hoped to complete the 5 events in 95 degree heat and humidity. I was confident in having enough volunteers, but the question remained would we have any participants?
As race time neared, coaching guru Jim Bowles led his Utopia team of talented runners onto the sizzling 400-meter track. Defending champions Jamie Rodriguez (who broke a 16-year old scoring record last year) and Tara Sheedy (a talented Shaker High School runner) both returned to test to resolve against the harsh weather and challenging event. Bowles who just recently returned from Kenya did not respond when I asked if he was recruiting additional members for his team or just learning new training methods to try on his runners. Despite his silence, Jim knew he had a loaded team as collegian Chuck Terry, Ken Plowman, and master standout David Twarog were all lacing up their track shoes for the anticipated shoot-out.
But this year's Pentathlon was more than just a showcase for Bowles fleet footed Utopia team, as HS runner Todd Raymond (6th place in last year's Stockade-athon), Jim Sweeney (historic 10-mile club member in the Hour Run), and Willow Street hotshot Jim Armenia were each warming up to do battle.
My pre-race instructions to run conservatively in the initial 5K event due to the heat & humidity fell on deaf ears as Chuck Terry pushed Jamie Rodriguez through a torrid 2 miles before beginning a slow fade. Jamie continued on at a pace of just over 5 minutes per mile to set the Pentathlon 5K record in 15:45 eclipsing the mark 16:11 mark set by Vinny O'Brien in 1996. Chuck Terry and Todd Raymond ran 16:49 & 16:54 respectively for the strong runner-up efforts.
Perhaps a bit spent from his courageous effort in the 5K, Terry let Todd Raymond and Jim Sweeny take up the chase in the 800-meter event. Jaimie's time of 2:04.3 was well off the record set by Tyson Evensen last year, but still good enough for the win. Sweeny edged Raymond for the place spot 2:12.2 to 2:13.
Jim Armenia easily won the second 800-meter heat in 2:28.8.
The 3200 meter event provided the closest contest of the night as Jaimie Rodriguez turned back a strong challenge by Todd Raymond as both runners powered through the final 400m in an exciting battle, 10:34 to 10:35.5.
The Pentathlon almost became a Triathlon as swirling gusts of wind, and bolts of electricity interrupted the event prior to the start of the 400-meter run. Just 10 miles to the North, an intense storm provided the best (or worst) that Mother Nature could provide in a sensational light show that fortunately spared our venue from any significant harm. But Pentathlon runners are a hardy group and despite Ken Plowman's reminder that lighting can strike from as far as 25 miles away, 20 of 28 runners concluded all 5 events in near darkness later that evening. The 400-meter event was held in gusty winds and the runners who persevered were rewarded with temperatures about 20 degrees cooler for the final 1600-meter event.
Once again, Jaimy Rodriguez turned back all challenges to win with 4808 points (3rd highest ever) and Tara Sheedy also successfully defended her title of Pentathlon Princess!
David Twarog made a strong run at Paul Murray's master's record but ultimately fell short 4224 to Murray's 4332 points.
Several runners wisely chose to skip certain events to conserve energy but gave strong performances nevertheless. Most notably was Ken Plowman who skipped the final event when his ankle swelled but was on schedule to amass 4200 plus points. Least notably was Al Michaels who skipped all the events but graced us with his attendance.
Experienced Pentathlon runners John Haley, Jim Bowles, and Jim Moore all turned in strong performances.
Special thanks are in order to my special Pentathlon support staff, many of whom make significant contributions to the Stockade-athon as well. Year after year, their efforts allow this unique and memorable event to continue.