Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pamlico County - The Don Lee Creature Crawl 5k - May 18, 2014

Not only is Pamlico County home to some of North Carolina's best sailing spots, it's also home to Don Lee Camp and Retreat Center, affiliated with the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, which is home each May to a camp-wide open house and the Creature Crawl 5k.  Brad grew up going to Methodist camps in the mountains, so it was nice to see what the ocean version of camp would be!  With the open house going on, there were all kinds of exhibits, demonstrations and exploring going on, so we got a nice view of all the camp activities and possibilities while waiting for the race to start.

Although this was only the 2nd annual running of the Creature Crawl 5k, the staff had the check-in process down.  We received some nice red Camp Don Lee shirts (with a different date) in our goodie bag, along with more camp info.  The race itself was going to start out in front of one of the cabins close to the river, so we eventually all made our way over there, where a friendly guy with a bullhorn thanked everyone for coming out, encouraged us all to enjoy the camp and have fun while we were there, and then sent us off on the run!

The route led quickly out of the camp along the main entrance road, and there were plenty of cheers and honks from folks who were taking part in the open house festivities and drivers still coming in and out.  We passed the dining hall and the medical center and several other cabins and meeting areas, then we went by the front Don Lee Camp sign and out.  A brief run along the entrance road took us to a water station about the 1-mile mark, where we turned towards the Neuse River and ran along River Road, where there were both some run-down houses that showed their age and some newer structures that were more polished.  It was also not clear exactly whether a storm was rolling in; we definitely had some sprinkles of rain, but what we originally thought was thunder actually turned out later to be booms from the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point across the river.  (I ran the MCAS Cherry Point half-marathon to get Craven County years earlier.)

It was a bit of a surprise when we turned off River Road and onto a grass path around the perimeter of a large, grassy field.  It's always nice to get off the road for races when possible, so the break from asphalt was very welcome.  It remained nice and flat, but the rain picked up a little bit, so I was ready to make the turn back towards camp and start the return trip.  We returned the way we came, back down River Road, making the turn back towards camp at the water station, and then back into camp by the main sign and the camp buildings.  The rain had pretty much ended by the time we got back to the start/finish area, so everyone was in a very good mood and happy to dig into the post-race refreshments.  We waited a while to see if the evening open house dinner was going to be ready soon, but with that meal still a couple of hours away, we decided to get back on the road home.  But we enjoyed our time in Pamlico County and we look forward to our next flat run there!

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