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Posts Tagged ‘4th of July Events’

The sign at the bottom read, “Hill? You Can’t Handle This Hill!”

Too shocked to have the sense to conserve my precious oxygen, I turned to the runner next to me and gasped, “Is this hill seriously trash talking us?!” I should have saved my breath because I needed every bit of O2 I could gather for the climb up Lover’s Leap in the middle section of the Hannibal Cannibal 5k Run.

The 16th annual Hannibal Cannibal was held this past Saturday morning in downtown Hannibal, Mo. More than 1,700 runners from 26 states braved temperatures that had already climbed into the mid-80s by 7 a.m. to participate in 5k or 10k courses. Each course began in downtown, headed up the highway and over the overpass, took a turn and then climbed the infamous 600-foot bluff known as Lover’s Leap.

This was only my second 5k run ever, but I was feeling pretty confident at the starting line. I gathered with the other slower runners near the back of the pack, and, when the cannon went off, the runners surged forward and formed a great river several blocks long and four lanes wide. My iPod playlist was cued up to a Deadweather song, and I felt like I was making good time as I crossed the highway overpass.

That’s about when the Hannibal Cannibal’s tag line, “It’ll eat you up,” began to make sense. Highway 79 from the overpass turns into a long, low hill. I’m going to say it’s about a 30-degree grade (though I’m just holding up my fingers to estimate, so I could be way off). The thing just goes on and on. I kept running, and it kept climbing. It was super hot, and I was kicking myself for leaving my sweatband sitting on my kitchen table back in Quincy. The course doubles back on itself, so the faster runners were all coming down the hill I was still trying to climb. I was jealous of those folks who had already made the turn.

When that hill finally did let up, I was treated to a glass of lukewarm water, and then started making my way back down the hill. The relief was only temporary though, because I was approaching Lover’s leap.

The “You Can’t Handle this Hill” sign was only the beginning of the Cannibal’s biggest weapon’s assault on me. The sign’s barb had me fired up, and I charged with renewed energy. Talk trash to me, will you, Hill? I’ll show you!

But it just kept coming! The grade increased to what seemed like 90 degrees, and the next sign teased, “Feel the burn?” I did feel the burn, but I wasn’t about to walk.

The Hill, unperturbed with my continued insolence, informed me, “Even your car can’t make it up this hill.” I’ll admit, the thought of my Camry and its very capable air conditioner caused me a great deal of mental anguish, but I was determined to keep going.

My calf muscles had worked themselves into a ball by the time the Hill hurled its next dagger, “Free Oxygen Ahead.” This one was a significant blow, because I’d completely forgotten what it was like to breathe.  I had to walk past the next warning, “Yes, there is a Cannibal at the top.” I resigned myself to my imminent demise and thought, “At least if the waiting Cannibal devours me, I won’t have to run all the way back downtown.”

MaryAnn Cornwell and Laura before the race.

Suddenly I was there at the top. Some saintly volunteer had a water sprayer and I reveled in the cool mist as I jogged past. I grabbed a glass of water and then saw the Cannibal himself! He was gnawing on a bone that I assume was a human femur (or possibly a turkey-leg, but we’ll go with femur.) He was distracted! It was time to make a run for it!I dashed past the distracted barbarian and didn’t even look over my shoulder to see if I was being pursued! It wasn’t long before I was turning the corner back toward the finish line. I’d made it! It was hard, and it was hot, but I was very proud. I clocked a time of 39 minutes and change. That was slower than my Bridge the Gap time, but I’ll tell you this, I’m not a bit disappointed. Running the Hannibal Cannibal was every bit of the challenge that they bill it to be, and I’m excited to have survived in one piece.

To view race results and to see lots more photos, visithttp://hannibalcannibal.com

Also, congratulations to all the runners who participated in this race, especially my friends MaryAnn, Amy, Melissa, and Jeff. Well done, everyone!

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