Christina Caravoulias tells me about a cute race concept that the DC Road Runners Club implements every 4th of July. Based on age/sex performance tables, the race starts at different times for different people. My group has a 14-minute handicap relative to the baseline, 70+ year old ladies. Chris begins about 3.5 minutes ahead of me. The young fast folk have to start later. It makes for more passing mid-race as the leaders sort themselves out, like isotope separation in uranium enrichment. There's a lot of standing around before the start, but much less at the end.
In spite of warm (~75°F) and humid (~65°F dewpoint) conditions I trot along briskly and do rather better than I expected, but rather worse than my fantasy-world goal of 8 minutes/mile. From the starting point on the C&O Canal Towpath at Carderock, near Canal mile 10.5, the first fractional mile to the turnaround at milepost 11 takes me 3:55. My mile splits thereafter, markers 11-10-9-10, are 8:09 + 8:14 + 8:50 (ugh!) and the final roughly-half-mile back to the start/finish is 4:11, for a total elapsed time of 33:19 and a handicapped time of 47:19, which puts me 75th out of 126 or so racers. (cf. official results) I stay near the finish to greet Blair Jones, Jaime Lopez, and Christina who finishes strong with her friend Sharyn Gordon. The C&O Canal mileposts are notoriously inaccurate, so who knows how far we actually went? After the finish we eat, drink, and all get prizes, some rather weird; as the Race Director notes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure!" I cheerfully snag an XXL DCRRC singlet.