Entry opens for May Madness 10 x 5K

Unique format gives first-timers, veterans a chance for fast 50K

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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After a two-year hiatus, Doug Dawkins is bringing back the May Madness 50K, a unique 10 x 5K format in which runners have an unusual way to set their 50K personal best.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 23 at the J. Robert Gordon Field Trial Area along Ledbetter Road, located between Millstone and Derby roads. It is situated on the Sandhills Game Land area, one of the most extensive and accessible longleaf pine habitats in the state. All 63,000 acres are cared for by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Doug Dawkins, in red, is shown here at the start of the Derby 50K in November. In May, Dawkins is bringing back the May Madness 10 x 5K event in the Sandhills Game Land area.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Doug Dawkins, in red, is shown here at the start of the Derby 50K in November. In May, Dawkins is bringing back the May Madness 10 x 5K event in the Sandhills Game Land area.

Dawkins, a 60-something Rockingham man and director of the annual Bethel Boogie Moonlight 50-miler each June on the outskirts of Ellerbe, said this race was a part of his “wild card” series each year. Last contested in 2012, it worked out pretty well for the 36 runners that completed at least four of the 10 3.1-mile loops.

“The May Madness thing was a pretty good format,” Dawkins said. “I decided to go back to it. I think people had a good time. My understanding is that nobody had done anything quite like that (in 2012). I just through it was a strange idea. I just wanted it to be something interesting. It takes a lot of strategy. Certainly a winner’s going to think about, ‘if I blast out for five or six laps,’ can he still finish? You have to pace yourself.”

Dawkins said he believes part of the appeal is that runners of all abilities are able to hang out at the finish line area in between 5K races.

“They come in, get under a tarp, talked to other people … it had some social aspect to it instead of just going out and running a 50K. You come back in, hang out for 40 minutes, or for 10 minutes (and then run again).”

In 2012, Tommy Neeson won with a cumulative 50K time of 3 hours, 20 minutes and 42 seconds. At a pace of 6:18 per mile, Neeson was nearly an hour ahead of runner-up Marie Ange-Smith, who finished in 4:16:31. Neeson followed Dawkins’ suggestion of a conservative start, finishing his first 5K in 24:56. His next nine 5Ks were between 20:27 and 22:54.

This year’s field will be limited to 100 runners. The cost is $45 per person and there is no race-day registration. The course, which includes sand, dirt, leaves and pine straw, is a single counterclockwise loop — times 10 — takes the path behind the field trials barn towards Ellerbe Tower Road. Going through a wooded area, runner will take the fire line over to Range Road. Runners then will head west and back to the starting area.

Beginning at 7 a.m. and then again at the top of each hour for the next nine hours, runners will set off to complete each 5K loop as quickly as they can — right through the heat and humidity that North Carolina offers in May.

“It’s hot out there,” Dawkins said.

The race is jointly coordinated by Dawkins, the Mangum Track Club, RacENC and the Phantom Trotters. MTC is Richmond County’s running club — and one of the largest in the state — and RacENC is a for-profit timing outfit. As for the Phantom Trotters, “I can’t tell you that,” Dawkins said.

“If I told you that, I’d have to shoot you,” he said. “It’s just there. Nobody could tell you if they’re a Phantom Trotter or not. If they tell you they are, they’re lying.”

There’s no guarantee this event will happen in 2015 — or ever again. The field trials barn is reserved beginning Jan. 1 year on a first-come, first-served basis and though Dawkins works with the Wildlife Resources Commission on a burn crew,  he gets no preference.

“I intend to do it again, as long as I can,” Dawkins said. “Getting the location … I have no guarantee. May Madness may be in July next year.”

A potential solution, perhaps, that would be absolutely fitting the Boogie style.

 

 

Filed in: Hoffman, Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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