My personal record for this distance actually came on a magical day in November 2012. Feeling exceptionally strong, I went to Hoover’s track after work. I started clicking off 95 second laps and never slowed down. When I completed the 25 laps for the 10K distance, my watch read 39:44. I’ve never broken the 40 minute barrier in a race setting but it counts just the same to me. If I have run multiple races in the same state, only the fastest time is listed.
1. South Carolina- Oktoberfest ’04 in Walhalla-45:04
This was my first 10K and the only race that I ran as a student at Clemson. I was fighting Stage 2 Adrenal Fatigue and sensitivity issues but got lucky with a very good day given my fitness at the time. I could have gone sub-44 if I did not mishandle the pace so badly. The course was mostly rural, which was not a surprise given the small size of the town, and gently rolling with a few views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. The race was run with my Bible study teacher and his future wife and we treated ourselves to great fried chicken at the Steakhouse Cafeteria.
2.Alabama- Vulcan ’08 in Birmingham-41:32 (in '12)
My fastest official time on Alabama soil came in 2012 but I have run this race 3 times plus the more prestigious Azalea Trail Race in Mobile. If I ever have another shot at a sub-40, I’ll consider a trip to Mobile in November for the Senior Bowl. It’s basically the same course as Azalea without the threat of humidity. As for this race, it could be a PR course if run smartly. It’s got a mile long incline in Mile 3 and some tough rollers in Mile 4 but 5 is significantly downhill then it’s flat to the finish. The weather is usually perfect and the event is well organized.
3. Georgia- Silver Comet ’11 in Atlanta- 40:55
My fastest official 10K was here but I have beaten that time on several occasions in practice. This is most definitely a PR course that is rolling for the first 2 miles then ever so slightly downhill on a perfectly straight trail over the remaining 4.2 miles. I also scored a 3rd in my AG here. If I had run this the following year at my peak, I would have been sub-40 for sure. I’ve also run Peachtree and Possum Trot here as well. Possum Trot could be a PR course. Peachtree is not but if you’re looking for a real Atlanta experience, run it. My sub-42 at Peachtree in 2014 was likely a better performance than my official PR.
4. Louisiana- Crescent City ’12 in New Orleans- 43:09
I am not a fan of this city for reasons besides a mediocre race performance. I toured Bourbon Street and a mall on the banks of the river. The course is nearly dead flat and point to point from Jackson Square to City Park but it doesn’t start until 8:30 AM. Heat is often an issue in April and can preclude a shot at a PR. I was on pace for sub-40 through most of the first half but wilted in the heat and this was the first race in which my Magnesium and enzyme deficiency became problematic. My decline would begin here.
5. Mississippi- Gum Tree ’12 in Tupelo- 42:07
A chance for redemption after the failure in New Orleans the previous month ended in disappointment though it was a full minute faster on a more difficult course. I am a fan of this city and its sweet and friendly people. Event was well organized with good swag that included a tech shirt and finisher’s medal but again the start was too late in the day. Fortunately, temps were a bit below average for May that year. It’s gently rolling course that’s mostly residential with some highways. See the Elvis tourist attractions here.
6. Florida- Fiesta ’13 in Pensacola- 42:22
My health was really in decline here but I managed to get lucky with a decent day. It’s a point to point course from Pensacola State College to the entertainment district downtown that featured a mix of residential, highway and city streets. There was only one tough hill and it was a net decline with a downhill finish but given that it’s Florida, the elevation change was not significant. It was a quality event overall with a nice after party. Heat can be a big concern here in early May but it was unseasonably chilly and windy that year.
7. Pennsylvania- Great Race ’13 in Pittsburgh-43:02
I was really in poor shape health wise by this point and delivered about the best performance I could have expected. Overall, notwithstanding my performance, this was my favorite event that featured 3 college campuses, attractive city skyline views and a finish at the confluence of the city’s 3 rivers. The course is so much downhill that I don’t consider it to be PR-legal but it’s tons of fun especially if you’re in shape. This was my only fly away of the 10 states and I’m still glad I did it.
8. Tennessee-Franklin Classic ’14 in Franklin (Nashville)- 49:30
Here, it was becoming obvious that something was badly wrong. Granted, it was hot and hilly but I never should have been anywhere near this bad. I actually walked a couple hills. The culprit was extreme Cal/Mag sensitivity. Franklin is one of Nashville’s outer suburbs so it was no surprise that the course was largely rural with a few parks. I don’t remember a whole lot about this event for good reason. I would find something better if you need Tennessee. I’m sure Chattanooga, Knoxville or Memphis has a good race.
9. Kentucky- Medical Center ’14 in Bowling Green-41:28
Redemption after the nightmare in Nashville the previous month! Although this was not a race that’s worth a 4 hour drive and was only done to hit 10 states, it was a good event overall. The course was not easy and featured Western Kentucky Univ. and a few city and residential streets. This was a good performance and given the difficulty of the course, it was better than my official PR. I toured the Corvette Museum and stopped in Nashville’s Wild Horse Saloon for lunch on the way home.
10. North Carolina- Asheville ’15 in 49:04
I thought about a mega race such as Richmond or Bolder Boulder to finish up this challenge but it was still pretty special coming full circle after starting in South Carolina. The course was mostly highway and VERY hilly especially in the back half. It did have good swag including a tech shirt and finishers medal. It was easily the most difficult of the 10 races listed. This performance was worth about a high 46 on a normal course, which is about what I expected given that I have pretty much collapsed. I really enjoyed the drive through the Smoky Mountains and Nantahala River valley.
10 states done and I'm stopping here. I do expect to revisit Alabama and Georgia.