Ned Campbell had to go.
Five and a half gallons of purple-hued Riptide Rush Gatorade had worked its hydrating magic and the first-year Rotterdam reporter was left feet away from the starting line doing the rain dance with a cool drizzle coming down. Surrounded by a swarm of road racers gathered for the CDPHP Workforce Challenge, Campbell even wondered aloud if perhaps there was a convenient latrine stashed away somewhere in close proximity — or at least along the 3.5 mile course.
But alas, there was none. And the rookie member of Team Gazette was left to do the only thing he could to stave off an untimely release: Run fast.
Campbell, who is training limb and liver for the Boilermaker 15k race in Utica, blasted through the dense pack of runners and crossed the finish line at the 27:56 mark. Afterward, he said the combination of road race, bladder pressure and the constant chiming of the voice from his iPhone's RunKeeper ap lulled him into a trance half-way into the race.
“I was kind of in the zone,” he said.
Not to be upstaged by Team Gazette's youngsters, veteran runner Dick Bennett chased Campbell's heels to finish 8 seconds after him. Though identified as a sprightly 52 years of age on his bib, he later confessed the race touched off on the eve of his 62nd birthday.
Campbell led a youth movement on Team Gazette this year, which also included rookies Rebecca Isenhart and Erin K. O'Neill. Isenhart finished top among Gazette women with a time of 36:40, just 24 seconds before columnist Sara Foss finished.
Foss and O'Neill were also on each others' heels. The veteran Gazetter finished just 12 seconds ahead of the online editor.
Waddling into third place-overall for Team Gazette was husky captain Justin Mason, who finished with a relatively disappointing 30:40. Downplaying his training regimen of hot wings and beer, Mason linked his poor performance on his ill-fated decision to powerslam a half-pound bag of trail mix five minutes before the race — something that led to a near calamity along the final stretch.
“I almost hurled on some guy from OGS,” he confessed later, also blaming his growing beard and long hair for increasing his wind resistance.
Winning Team Gazette's first annual Commander Bill Buell Hero Award was Dan Goodspeed, who ran the race despite having strained a swath of knee muscles on the ultimate Frisbee battlefield a couple weeks earlier. Even with the nagging injury and slowing his pace to a walk, Goodspeed managed 31:34, an admirable finish for someone visibly limping before the race.
Captain-emeritus Jeff Wilkin rounded out the runners, largely because he started the race sandwiched between a cadre chattering walkers leisurely discussing the latest news from the water cooler. The ever-polite Wilkin opted against dropping a shoulder into the walkers as advised by current team captain Mason.
Team nutritionist Judy Patrick garners a special mention for ensuring Gazette runners had adequate blood sugar levels and were properly hydrated following the race. The team's electrolytes had dropped to dangerous levels and were it not for Patrick's timely intervention, some may have not have made it to the next pub.
“That was clutch,” said Mason, polishing off the tail end of a pint. “Malt beverages are an essential part of the post-race recovery process.”