Sonoco Birthday Dash 5K (21:11)

At last Thursday night’s Race the Landing 5K, I remembered just how much 5K races hurt. The post-race meal at Race the Landing gave me runner’s amnesia, because less than 48 hours later, I was registered for and running another 5K.

The 5K Pain Train is short-lived and easily forgotten.


Last weekend, Clay and I visited his family in his hometown of Hartsville for his cousin Kayla’s wedding. Plus, it was Mother’s Day weekend, so we wanted to give his mom a Mother’s Day gift and spend some time with family while we were there. We headed to Hartsville early Friday afternoon to get there in time for dinner. The wedding was Saturday afternoon, so we drove back to Charleston that night.

Since I was in Hartsville Saturday morning, I ran the Sonoco Birthday Dash 5K. Fitness World Run Club members got a reduced entry fee of $20, and I figured the race would be a great way to see friends and ensure I got a run in. Plus, the post-race refreshments promised cake- who doesn’t like cake?


The Sonoco Birthday Dash 5K is in its second year and part of a birthday/anniversary celebration for Sonoco, a large plant near Downtown Hartsville, SC. Sonoco hosted the race after holding a Couch-to-5K program for their company and invited all employees to participate. The 5K was open to the public as well, and I’d say participation was evenly split between the general public and Sonoco employees and family.

I got to the race about 45 minutes early, paid, and headed out to warm up. My warm up was 2.3 miles, a little longer than I would’ve liked, but I warmed up on the course, which ran through downtown Hartsville, by Prestwood Lake, and finished on the Sonoco campus. During my warm up, I noticed a pretty steep hill in Mile 3.


The course was all paved, and the support was great for a small race. The police did a great job of stopping and directing traffic, and Sonoco placed volunteers in yellow shirts at every turn as well as using flour to mark the course (there were a lot of turns). I’ve run some small races where runners had to stop and ask volunteers which direction to go, but this was very clear. 5Ks are so short that having to get off your mental game to stop or think about direction can cost you a few seconds if you are running completely alone.

The first mile was my fastest mile of the race (as usual for a 5K). I tried to “bank” some time for the steep hill at Mile 3 and also get a strong start. At each turn, the volunteers cheered for the legendary Robbie McLendon, a family friend and well-known Hartsville runner who has a running streak of over 9 years. Robbie recently turned 60 and ran a 60K for his birthday. I knew Robbie was right behind me until he passed me at the aid station, just before Mile 2. Most of Robbie’s finish times are just ahead of mine, so I was on track for a good race.

The course had a few hills, but the Mile 3 hill trashed my legs. My third mile was faster than my second, but my overall pace up that hill was pretty ugly. Charleston is completely flat, and I can tell I’ve skipped my parking garage runs and bridge repeats. Strength training makes a huge difference in hill running, so I made a mental note after the race that I need to get back into it.


Fortunately, the race only had two more turns after the hill, so I picked up speed at the end. I wore my Garmin but did not look at it during the race. When I turned the corner and saw the finish clock change from 20 to 21, I immediately knew the race was short.

I crossed the finish line in 21:11 to win first place female, overall and a fun glass award.


My Garmin clocked a 2.95 mile course, which averaged out to a 7:10 pace- faster than Thursday night’s Race the Landing despite the hills. The course length did not affect placing, and even if the distance was correct, I would not PR based on average pace. The organizers could easily move the start and finish just down the road for the course to be 3.1 miles.

I ran a 2 mile cooldown on the course with Keith and we cheered for the other runners and thanked all the volunteers and police officers. We got back in time for awards and I was on my way home by 9:30.

Like many small towns, the Pee Dee running community is small, and most races are inaugurals or one-time-only fundraisers. The Sonoco Birthday Dash was the only race in the area that Saturday, and over 200 runners and walkers participated, which I’d say is pretty good for Hartsville. The medals and awards are fun, and I’m glad I ran a hilly course while I had the chance.


Name: Sonoco Birthday Dash 5K

Where: Hartsville, SC

Date and Time: May 9, 2015, 8 AM

Course: Road, gently rolling hills. Short course, between 2.95-3 depending on who you talk to

Entry fee: $25 for public, $20 for FWRC members

Swag: Tech shirt (white, short sleeved) for series participants

Post-race Food: Cupcakes, bananas, oranges, water

Weather: 66 degrees, 88% humidity

This entry was posted in 5Ks, Fitness World Run Club, Race Recaps and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Sonoco Birthday Dash 5K (21:11)

  1. lizlicorish says:

    I love the intensity of your finish line photo! That’s still a really great time for a hilly course (even if it was a bit short). There are a few run-streak guys in their late 60s on the scene here. They race a 5K every single weekend and sometimes two a weekend! I hope to be like that when I’m their age. 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks, and yes, it was definitely short.

      Sometimes I think the small town races do this so that people will “PR” and come back. It feels weird because I have this finish time beside my name that I did not achieve in a legitimate 5K. I also realize that most runners don’t have that mentality and will consider their fastest time in a 5K race (whether the course was correct or not) their PR.

      It’s amazing how different the older runners train and race from people our age. I have a few running friends in their 50s and 60s and some who trained really hard back in the 1970s and 1980s and they talk about 100 mile weeks and how they did 20 mile long runs most every Sunday. Yikes. But, that was a different running “boom”, and I’ll have to say I like the moderation factor of this generation of runners much better.

  2. Pam says:

    Congrats on a great race Amy. Hills are always a killer for short races IMHO. I love your glass award and first overall female is tremendous. You are really doing well in races this spring!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks! It wasn’t too bad, my pace on Saturday was better than Thursday night (both were better than last night, my legs are pretty exhausted right now). It was a fun race and those were delicious cupcakes…

  3. Hollie says:

    You look so intense in your photos, that is awesome. I cannot believe how hilly it was for a 5k. I hate hilly races let alone 5ks so I understand your pain. Any races with cupcakes at the finish wins in my books.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Hollie! Yeah, the photos are pretty intense. One of the girls who works at Fitness World Gyms (the run club is operated by a gym chain in the Pee Dee) came out and took the photos and she did a great job. The race itself didn’t have photography but she tried to get some good shots of everyone, even those who are not members of that gym or run group.

      Truthfully, the hill I noticed the most was the last one. It killed everyone. Some of the course was also downhill at least.

  4. jillconyers says:

    Congrats on the finish and the win!

  5. Awesome job tackling those hills and still finishing strong.

  6. i also forget how much 5ks hurt – ouch! way to go though! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s