Battle at the Border: GRSC vs. Wilmington (40:30)

Last weekend, I ran the Battle at the Border Trail Run, an annual competition between the Grand Strand Running Club and Wilmington NC Road Runners. Each year, both clubs come together at a farm in Calabash, NC, for a 4.5 mile cross country style trail race. The race is held at Indigo Farms, and the course winds through both states!

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For Grand Strand Running Club members, your $20 annual dues gets you admission into the Border Battle as well as a very nice GSRC technical singlet to wear during the run. Battle at the Border is only for club members and not open to the public, but it does not cost any additional money besides your yearly fee. You just have to join GSRC. With the race and other perks (race discounts, social nights, post-race tent at the MB Marathon), the $20 membership is a great deal. If several people in your family run, your household can join GSRC for $30.

I met a lot of Grand Strand Running Club members at the 2015 Historic Georgetown Bridge to Bridge Half Marathon and also hung out with many at the 2017 Myrtle Beach Marathon. I was injured at that race, so I was a “pit crew” to friends and some new friends. The running community is small and close-knit, so it’s fun to make friends in other cities.

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Roscoe, the president of the Grand Strand Running Club and brother to my close friend and training partner Steve, invited me to run the Border Battle with GSRC, so I took him up on the offer. Clay had some things going on that weekend, and I was excited to run somewhere new. Charleston is home and I love it here, but sometimes a change of scenery and terrain is good for a runner’s legs and soul.

I drove up to Myrtle Beach the night before the race and stayed with one of the GSRC members, Chip, along with his wife Jeanne and son Taylor. They are originally from the Florence/Hartsville area where I lived for years, so we had a lot to catch up on and knew many of the same people. We didn’t do a whole lot of pre-race celebrating besides watching Big Brother and eating dinner from Little River House of Pizza (so good). I had a veggie sub and onion rings.

The next morning, we headed off to the trail run. It was only about 10 minutes from his house, and we got there early to socialize. I was a little TOO social and didn’t get into the potty line until 8 AM. As soon as I was done in the portajohn, it was time for a pre-race picture, so I never got to warm up. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t warm up for a race (it’s been YEARS)!

Since the Border Battle is a trail run and team competition, my goals looked very different than usual:

  • Finish Healthy: This is always the #1 goal for a run or race. I had an 11 mile training run the next day and have a lot of half marathons this Fall. While I wanted to run my best for GSRC, I also want to be healthy for those.
  • Don’t Fall: I don’t usually do trail runs and this one had a lot of roots, rocks, and even a few holes on the course.
  • Pass Wilmington Runners/Don’t Get Passed: This was the point of the race, to score points for GSRC. The Wilmington runners wore orange shirts for the event so it was easy to know who was on our team (gray) vs. them.

Since the point of the race was for Grand Strand runners to finish before Wilmington runners, I hoped to have a progressive run/negative split. Since I’m usually the one getting passed late in races, I know it can psych you out, and I wanted to be the one passing and surging ahead. Starting slower also let me get a feel for the trail conditions. I had no pace or time goals, just passing.

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Before starting, we did some team pictures and chants. It felt like a running sorority- everyone had on the same shirt, we took a big picture, and we chanted G-S-R-C.

I won’t do a mile by mile recap, but the course was 4.5 miles of some of the toughest trails I’ve run in years. I normally listen to my iPod during races, but after one song, I had to turn it off and completely focus on my footing and passing people. I passed loads of runners in the last two miles- maybe I was too conservative, but I really didn’t want to fall or get hurt. My mile splits were 9:33, 9:06, 9:00, 8:45, and 8:33, finishing in 40:30.

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After a two mile cooldown, I had some watermelon and socialized while the scores were tallied. Unlike traditional races that offer awards to the overall and masters runners and age group awards, the Border Battle has two awards: the overall winning team and a participation award for the team with the most runners. There are no bibs and timing, and the race is scored with popsicle sticks.

Unfortunately, Grand Strand Running Club did not win the team competition, so we took “Snaily”, the runner-up trophy, for the year. We were counting on the faster men, and many of the guys in the front took a wrong turn somewhere, which cost us big time.

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BUT… GSRC had 170 runners and won the participation award! This was the largest Border Battle ever, with runners from all over the Grand Strand (over 50 miles) coming together to run a challenging course in the heat. I’m really proud of everyone who showed up because the course and conditions are outside of most of our comfort zones. We had a great team spirit, and I loved being a part of a big team event.

Now that I’m “officially” a GSRC member, I’m eyeing a few races in Myrtle Beach over the next few months, so I can run new courses and reconnect with others. I hope to run Border Battle 2018 as well!

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19 Responses to Battle at the Border: GRSC vs. Wilmington (40:30)

  1. mommyrunfaster says:

    Congrats on the race! Trail runs are a whole different experience- challenging in many ways, but also more relaxed and fun!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Some of the guys took it super seriously (it’s the guy attitude I think!) but the whole spirit of the event was for fun and fellowship… and I really liked that! It was a nice change from a super competitive style of race.

  2. Angela says:

    This race sounds so much fun!!!! Well Done!

  3. What a fun race! Such a cool concept. I like your goal of not falling. I would have the same goal, too!!

  4. This is SO COOL! I love how you passed so many runners at the end, and you were smart about being conservative. I hope your 11 miler the next day was a good one!

  5. Yahoo for a negative split! What a fun way to host a race. But, that snail though…is TOO cute lol think I’d rather have that one! And DANG it for the wrong turn with the fasties…that’s always been a fear of mine in my own races. It must be so much fun to be apart of a team…we don’t really have that here.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You don’t have to be fast to take a wrong turn… even I’ve done it (in a super small race that just wasn’t well marked). It happens, especially when the adrenaline is pumping away from your brain and totally to your legs and feet to keep you going!

  6. This was the 5th Battle at the Border and each one has gotten bigger and better. I was thrilled to have the Tiny Terror running for the GSRC! It truly is a unique event and a total team effort. This single event does more to pull our club together as a family than anything else we do all year. As you point out, the $20 annual membership dues for the GSRC is less than the cost about any local 5K you can find. We’d love to have others on our southern border join us next year and help us return “Snaily” to its rightful home with the Wilmington Road Racers Club. We also can’t wait for your return to the Grand Strand.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you Roscoe- I had an awesome time and will be back! I am planning to run Bridge 2 Bride this October as well as MB in March (either the half or full). I love that for $20 a year, members get this run AND the singlet, as well as all the other club benefits. Most running clubs make you buy a singlet or shirt.

      I hate that we have Snail-y this year but you have to admit it is kind of a cute snail…

  7. Elizabeth C. says:

    I heard about GSRC when I ran Myrtle Beach. Sounds like a really amazing group to be a part of. I loved reading about this race and how unique it is. I think your goals were very well stated, and perfect for this type of event. Great job!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah- I was at the GSRC tent while everyone was running. It’s a great group and serves ~50 miles of coast of SC, even has group runs in many locations… *every single week*!

  8. Wow, congrats! This looks like such a fun race! Love the snail trophy haha.

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  9. Isn’t this nice to have this race for members only. Yall have quite the number too!
    I’m with you on the “Don’t Fall” goal it would be on my list too!
    Just amazing splits on a trail run!!! Great job Amy! This sure sounds like fun competition!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It was great. We had everyone out there, all levels of runners. With it being a team competition, everyone contributed just by being there- even the last person to cross still counted for the participation award.

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