The Shamrock Shuffle 5K and 15K races March 16 along the Junction and Breakwater Trail staged behind the Tanger Seaside Outlets in Rehoboth were run under blustery and biting weather conditions with winter storm flags flying once again.
Foot races have at least half as many stories as feet, and sometimes the people who show up can dazzle you with personal histories.
Dillon Gracey, 27, a Shippensburg University graduate, won the 5K race in an easy-for-him time of 17:20. Dillon has run and won races at the beach since he was in high school and he is now married, and both he and his wife Neely Spence Gracey run - that is their vocation and vacation.
Spence Gracey, 23, is an eight-time Division II NCAA national champion while running cross country and indoor and outdoor track at Ship. She owns a 15:27 personal best in the 5K run on the track while Dillon has a 15:27 PR to his credit. Neely is a professional and runs for Brooks as part of the Hanson Pro Development team. The two got married wearing running shoes. Neely was given away by her dad Steve Spence, a 1992 member of the U.S. Olympic marathon team - he won the trials - and a 1991 bronze medalist at the marathon World Championships.
Those numbers get them a seat at the Thanksgiving Day table, but Neely’s Dad gets to talk first. Her dad continues his streak of having run a sub five-minute mile for 39 consecutive years.
Google Steve Spence and kick back for a couple hours and marvel at his 4:12 high school mile and PR of 2:12 in the marathon.
Another person racing Sunday was Brian McGuire, who won his age group in the 5K. His brother Jerry was a former sportswriter for the Delaware State News. Brian is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve and one of three athletic trainers who work the NFL Scouting Combine, a job the Salisbury graduate has done the last six years. Brian is a federal employee who leads the Marine Corps sports injury and prevention program in Quantico, Va.
The elective misery of early-morning running and racing tends to attract motivated and successful people. Runners are Alpha and Beta people of action. Roger that!