Run and shoot

Last year's Mag Mile had a wildly entertaining finish for the top women runners.

I’m big on goals, big on cross-training as well. Occasionally, these dual objectives create conflict.

For instance, come autumn, the goal-oriented runner in me gets excited about the Second Empire Fall Grand Prix Series. The series consists of eight races, starting with this Sunday’s Magnificent Mile in downtown Raleigh and including five 5Ks, an 8K, and a 10-miler. I like the series in part because of the race variety, in part because the speed-challenged such as myself have a chance to shine in the series. I won’t place in my age group — stunning how many fast 55- to 59-year-olds there are on the circuit — in any one race, but if I run in every race I could place in the top 10, perhaps even top 5 in the series standings. Great incentive to train for the non-elite.

Lately, however, I’ve been doing a lot of hiking as part of my coaching responsibilities for the Ultimate Hike. I’ve been on the trail about twice a week since July, and since I’ve been participating in the Triangle Off-Road Cyclists’ 2011 summer cross-country mountain bike race series, I’ve been riding two to three times a week as well. And did I mention that I’ve become a born-again climbing gym rat?

All of which has left little time for running, a fact I realized Tuesday when I had an especially challenging 5.3-mile run at Umstead, then went to record the run in my log book. My last entry? August 10. More than a month without lacing the Asics and the first race of the Second Empire Grand Prix Series is Sunday.

I’m fortunate, though, for two reasons. One, Sunday’s The Magnificent Mile is just that, a mile. I can survive a mile. I will suffer, I won’t give Hicham El Guerrouj anything to worry about, but it will be over relatively quickly. Then, I can bump running back up on my cross-training priority list.

The other good thing: The Mag Mile, which benefits the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, accommodates slackers such as myself by leaving online registration open until midnight tonight. It’s just $25 for the competitive mile (which qualifies you for the Second Empire series) and $20 for the recreational mile (in which you have a lesser chance of getting stampeded at the start. It’s a fun race, circles around the State Capitol in downtown Raleigh and it doesn’t start until 2 p.m., meaning no unsightly bed-head for your race pictures.

In other news …

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Son of Krispy Kreme Challenge. The Wolfpack must be having a good smug chuckle over this one: seven years after starting its enormously successful Krispy Kreme Challenge, their buddies in Chapel Hill will hold their inaugural Dozen Donut Dash. Same concept as the Krispy Kreme Challenge: Run four miles, eat a dozen donuts in between, raise money for a good cause, in this case UNC’s Lineberger Cancer Hospital.

The Krispy Kreme Challenge grew out of a dare among 10 N.C. State students in 2004: to run from the Bell Tower two miles to the Krispy Kreme on Person Street, eat a dozen glazed, then run the two miles back. The event quickly evolved into a national phenomenon, drawing the attention of national media outlets as well as an enormous following: this year’s race attracted 7,500 donut-eating runners and raised $100,000 for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital. UNC isn’t the first to borrow the format: similar donut runs are run at the universities of Kentucky and Kansas, and at Florida State University.

This Dozen Donut Dash is Oct. 1 at 9 a.m. somewhere on campus (details tk?). $20 to participate. More info here.

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The MST in Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Shoot the trail. Need more incentive to hike now that the fall season is upon us? How about $100?

That’s the grand prize in the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail photo contest sponsored by Great Outdoor Provision Co. Take your camera on an MST hike, capture its essence and you could take home a crisp Benjamin. Prizes in both the Views from the Trail and People on the Trail category; a special category for hikers/shooters 17 and under. You have until Oct. 31 to submit entries.

Intrigued? Go here for details before getting your Brownie out of storage.

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