JACKSONVILLE – St. Johns Country Day School sophomore cross country runner Matthew Stratton stated that the Tour de Pain running festival in Jacksonville would be his final test of his summer …
JACKSONVILLE – St. Johns Country Day School sophomore cross country runner Matthew Stratton stated that the Tour de Pain running festival in Jacksonville would be his final test of his summer training for the upcoming high school cross country season.
Stratton, 15, put up a gallant three-race battle wtih veteran road racer Chris McCaffrey, 32, but fell just seven seconds short of the overall title.
“Eleven seconds is tough to make up in a mile and my only chance was to attack from the start,” said Stratton, just 15, who returns to the area high school cross country season as an eighth place finisher at last year’s Class 1A state championship race. “That last straightaway was almost all uphill with a slight head wind and it was tough.”
McCaffrey commended Stratton for his courageous effort in the mile sizzler.
“He went out hard enough to see if he could break a gap with me,” said McCaffrey. “I knew the course and I knew my running strength and we made the final turn and he had no more than three or four seconds, I knew he would have to put himself in the ‘hurt locker’ more than I would do to keep me from catching him and he almost did it. I kept enough of a gap knowing what 11 seconds looked like in my head. I think the kid was phenomenal coming out here and really laying it down.”
The Tour de Pain, a Jacksonville running staple that features a three races in 24 hours format with runners competing in a four mile beach run on Fri., Aug. 2, a road 5K on Sat., Aug. 3 and culminating with the mile sizzler at the heat-filled 4:30 pm afternoon sun in downtown Jacksonville.
In the final mile sizzler, Stratton was a mere 11 seconds off the two-race time total of McCaffrey with both tying the four miler at 22 minutes, 29 seconds, but McCaffrey edging Stratton with a 16:34 5K the following morning.
“He just had his best race at 5K this morning,” said Stratton. “That was the difference. I ran a 15:59 on the same 5K course at the July 4 race.”
Later in the afternoon, with temperatures basking near 95 degrees, Stratton and McCaffrey would toe the starting line for the double loop mile run around Hemming Plaza.
“I knew I had to get away from him and hope his legs were more tired than mine from the first two races,” said Stratton. “I look once near the end and then put a final surge at the end.”
On the first loop, Stratton took the early lead from the start to try and grab his advantage hoping that his young legs would be able to outlast the older legs of McCaffrey and pushed away with one runner on his left shoulder and McCaffrey about 10 yards behind the pair.
Stratton continued his push into the second loop and decided with about 500 meters left to see if he could steal the 11 seconds from McCaffrey.
On the final right turn before the finish, Stratton took a look behind him and saw McCaffrey within about six yards and knew the overall title would be hard to get. McCaffrey would get no closer as Stratton stormed through the finish line in 4:48 with McCaffrey second at 4:53. Adam Truesdale, 35, finished third in the mile at 4:55.
In other mile sizzlers, Orange Park masters runner Gary Myers, 46, took third overall in the Tour de Pain with a win in the mile at 5:05 while Fleming Island masters’ runner Shelly Allen, 55, won the master’s mile on a solo run (after returning from an Africa safari vacation) with a 6:12 effort.
In the opening four mile beach run on Jacksonville Beach, Stratton and McCaffrey tied at 22:29 with Myers third at 23:55 and Truesdale fourth at 24:14.
Top female was Carley Glasser, 32, in 26:50 with Paige Poehler, 28, second at 27:09 and Miranda Abbas, 25, third at 27:44.
In the 5K, McCaffrey won in 16:34 with Stratton second in 16:45 and Myers third in 17:04.
For the women, Carley Glasser, 32, won the four miler, the 5K and took third in the mile to take the Tour de Pain title in 52:32 over Paige Poehler, 28, second in 53:09. Third place overall for the Tour de Pain was Miranda Abbas, 25, finish second in the mile in 5:52 with Courtney Mason, 24, winning in 5:50. Mason was fourth overall female.