If you haven't seen the video by now (and you really should), I got beat by a girl at the Jingle Bell 5K here in Grove on Saturday.
In my defense, it wasn't just any girl. It was Grove High School sophomore Michaela Werner. If you haven't been regularly reading these sports pages (for shame), you may not know that she finished in the top-10 at seven different cross-country meets this past season, including a first place finish at the Verdigris Valley Conference Championship and an eighth-place finish at the 5A East Regional.
In addition to that, Michaela finished third in the 3200 meters at last spring's state championship in track and is also a frequent winner in half marathons. She recently won her age group in the 13.1 mile race at the Route-66 Marathon in November and will be competing for a second time in the half marathon at the Boston Marathon in May.
Last year, Michaela finished second in her age group in that race despite running on what was later diagnosed as a broken foot.
If you haven't seen the video from Saturday's race, shot by our own Peggy Kiefer and available on our website at www.grandlakenews.com, it's sure to remind you of other epic one-on-one confrontations, such as the "Duel in the Sun" between Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar at the 1982 Boston Marathon or the 1977 British Open at Turnberry where Tom Watson beat Jack Nicklaus by one shot to claim golf's oldest major championship.
OK, it probably won't remind you of either of those, even if you know anything about those events to begin with, but Saturday's race was a fun event nevertheless. The video only shows the final few hundred yards in which Michaela sprinted by me like I'm running in concrete galoshes to win by (officially) one second.
That hardly captures the epicness of the rest of the race, in which we took turns unsuccessfully trying to get rid of the other, never getting a lead of more than 5-10 yards.
I made a move toward the end, pulling away on Main Street. But then we turned up Third Street and, well, you can see the rest for yourself.
Michaela claimed fourth overall, along with first place in the female category and first place in her age group.
I had to settle for fifth overall and first place in the male 30-39 age group.
Another Grove High School runner Derek Pigsley, finished in third place, but without the drama and well ahead of Michaela and I.
This was the second year for the Jingle Bell 5K, which is put on by KGVE radio as part of the One Grand Christmas celebration. Kudos to those guys for putting on a well-organized race.
Now that they have some experience in putting on the event, you can see the difference in how smoothly everything went. Next year is sure to be even better.