‘That hill is brutal’

 Mangum Track Club holds initiation run

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com It's not only trail running that can catch the toes of a runner's shoe. The shirt run is entirely on paved roads, but that didn't stop this runner from coming knee-to-pavement with the course.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
It’s not only trail running that can catch the toes of a runner’s shoe. The shirt run is entirely on paved roads, but that didn’t stop this runner from coming knee-to-pavement with the course.

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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ELLERBE — Entering Saturday morning, the Mangum Track Club boasted 683 members from eight countries and 17 states.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com A runner stops at Bethel Baptist Church, roughly 12.2 miles into the 15-mile MTC Shirt Run, for water.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
A runner stops at Bethel Baptist Church, roughly 12.2 miles into the 15-mile MTC Shirt Run, for water.

And every one of them, including the 22 dogs, had to earn it by completing the club’s informal “shirt run,” a 15-mile jaunt from Mangum to the dog pen at the corner of Cartledge Creek and Holly Grove Church roads.

On Saturday, MTC membership grew by 26 humans and two dogs. Supported by an even larger number of current MTC members on the road or by roving vehicle support, the course includes a 1.5-mile incline starting that mile 10.7. Veteran and new runners alike can — and will — tell anyone willing to listen that putting the day’s most difficult hill two-thirds into the given distance isn’t easy. Then again, hills rarely are.

“That hill is brutal,” said a man wearing a kilt as he crested the hill to reach Bethel Baptist Church and begin the final 5K to the finish line of the informal training run. The hill, from the Pee Dee River bridge on Grassy Island Road to Bethel Hill Baptist Church, has an unofficial elevation gain of only 311 feet. But at that point in the run, it sure feels like more than that.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com To borrow from a well-read book, "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner."

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
To borrow from a well-read book, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.”

One woman running the 15-mile course was, at Mile 12.2, alongside another woman who was at 27.2. She had started at the finish line at 5 a.m., reached the start line of the shirt run prior to the scheduled  8 a.m. start and then ran back.

“That’s crazy,” said the first female runner.

She then acknowledged what she was doing might also be considered crazy.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Fields of alfalfa serve as the backdrop to runners along Grassy Island Road on the outskirts of Ellerbe.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Fields of alfalfa serve as the backdrop to runners along Grassy Island Road on the outskirts of Ellerbe.

“That’s what I said” before running.

For the runners’ troubles and effort — they came Saturday morning from as far away as White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. — they earn a Mangum Track Club shirt, along with the right to don club attire at any event they choose.

There are no annual dues, no requirements. Once a runner or walker completes the shirt run once, they are an MTC member for life.

And they charge extra for whining.

Filed in: Featured News, Front Sports News, Latest Headlines, Sports

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