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Rock/Creek racer Tom Sell on his 1st-Masters finish at the Southern 6

This race report comes our way from Rock/Creek Race Team member Tom Sell, who took 1st Masters in the Southern 6.

I love going to races. I love the atmosphere, I love the like minded, fit people that attend, and I love everything about them. Rock Creek races are awesome and I say that not just because I have been honored by being selected to the Rock Creek Race Team, but because I have done several hundred races dating back to 1985. I recently found Athlinks, which is a web site that tracks and records all of your results over the years. All you have to do is create an account and claim your results. I have 128 results dating back to 1985- I believe this to be about 1/4 of the races I have done since then (Not all events are in the data base).

That being said, I feel like I am something of an expert on races.

If you are putting on a race and want it to be successful you must approach it as putting on an “Event” not just a race. Your primary thought in putting on the race should not be how much money you can make but rather on how can you make it a memorable, positive experience for the participants. I have been to too many races in the past that are in it to make money and that’s it. These races usually do not survive the test of time and quickly fall by the way side. People want a great experience for their entry fee, not just the bare minimum of shirt-race-awards (think investment versus return).

Over the years I have seen the Rock/Creek Trail Series grow in both numbers and participation. People come from all over to do these trail races. I was there when it all started in 2001 with the inaugural running of the River Gorge 10.2. There were 25 finishers and I was part of the group of the leading 7 (along with Rock Creek teammate Sheridan Ames) that got lost and did not finish (read my previous race report from Florida and be shocked). It is awesome to see how trail running has taken off since then and become true events.

The Southern 6 race is an example of one of those great events that has grown out of that grassroots River Gorge race in 2001 that had 32 participants. The Rock/Creek events now have hundreds of participants, announcers, vendors, music, massages, food, and giant inflatable finish/start lines. They are just awesome events.

I must begin my race report with the journey to the race. We packed up Sunday morning to head to the race-me, my boy Thomas, my girlfriend Angie, and her 2 children- Mason and Maggie. As we headed out I was informed by Angie that she had convinced her little sister Emily to run the race (Emily’s first ever trail race) and that we had to go to Red Bank to pick her up-no problem as we have plenty of time. As we pulled in Emily’s driveway I realized that we had seating for 5 and there were 6 of us. Hmmm-I wonder how this will work.

I did not have to speculate long as I was informed that I would be sitting in the hatchback area-the spot that is normally reserved for Molly Dog. Are you kidding me?? Really?? Am I Rodney Dangerfield?? No Respect!! Not only am I the oldest, but I am by far the biggest one here I thought as I crawled into the hairy, wet, cramped cargo area and assumed an upright fetal position.

I don’t know if Angie was mad at me or what but she did her best Dale Jr impression as she slung me side to side on the way there. As we arrived I had to wait to be let out. Wow-I had a whole new respect for Chris Browns’ girlfriends. I had quite a bit of trouble regaining my ability to stand upright as I walked in to get my race packet. I spent the next thirty minutes chatting with friends, warming up, and getting myself ready for the upcoming speed fest. We finally headed to the start line. Emily was so stoked because she got to wear a pair of Salomon demo shoes, sparing her new shoes from the mud that we were about to encounter.

I positioned myself towards the front but not quite in the front. I glanced around at all of the young studs present on the starting line. Man-I have underwear that is older than most of these guys I thought. We got some last second instructions and then we were off –faster than a prom dress at post prom. I settled in at a lung searing pace that I was NOT enjoying. For the next 26 minutes I would love to say I was enjoying a nice run, but I would be lying. I think the steep down hills were more brutal on my body than the uphills.

It was worth the effort though as I managed a 15th OA finish and a Masters win. Following the race I was relieved to find out Emily’s husband Micah, was going to give her a ride home thus allowing me access to an upright seat with a seatbelt.

Post race we had a great time as we hung out, the kids played and I tried to regain some normal breathing/heart rate and a normal posture. Although this is Tuesday after the race and I still feel like I just went 5 rounds with Randy Couture, I can’t wait for the River Gorge event. Look for me -I am the old bald guy with a cauliflower ear and in a somewhat slumped over position.

Rock Creek team member Tom Sell is at the chiropractor’s awaiting a call from Dana White with an invite into the UFC
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