Logan Watley brought his Lincoln Running Co. Racing team to this side of the Platte River for their first annual “Distance Track Night.” Omaha’s first legitimate post collegiate track meet since the 2012 USA Club T&F National Championships at Burke. The intimate little meet at Elkhorn Middle School (my backyard) turned out to be the fastest men’s 5K in the Omaha Metro history. LRC loaded up the fields, proving that competitive running and racing has not been completely forgotten in the 402 area code.
All the studs were there! The gathered crowd was abuzz about Nolan Zimmer and Johnny Rutford, LRC’s two top fellas, looking to go sub 15 in the 5K. The excitement was palpable. An arranged pacer took the field through :70 1/4s for the first half before the favorites assumed their expected positions up front. Perfect weather, USATF Sanctioned event, looked to be a very good night for the lads indeed.
It turned out to be the Race of the Year for your scribe.
Andy “Slinger” Vasquez hung around the back of the pack for the first couple miles then began picking off the “older” competition. Was that really a Cornhusker Flyer kit? Oh indeed!
With a mile to go I told those gathered round that “Youth Will Prevail!” I was reminded that this was Johnny and Nolan’s race and that perhaps my bike crash earlier in the day had scrambled things a bit between my ears. But as the laps clicked by Andy was the only lad left stuck to the big boys.
And then something magical happened. Something that absolutely made my day. Before your panties get all bunched be reminded I am a fan of Real Racing and Real Competition. And underdogs and lone wolves. And of “Slinger” Vasquez, this Omaha Burke product, born and raised right here, The Cornhusker Flyer was unconcerned about his competition’s LRC pedigree, stayed glued to their backs.
Johnny, Nolan, and Andy hit the bell lap together. And then BAM! A changing of the guard happened last night in Nebraska Distance Running Excellence! Young Andy took off like a shot, as if the first 11 1/2 laps were a mere jog in fact. He immediately put 20-30 meters on the more seasoned runners. Pulled away quicker than Liberty Valance could unholster his six shooter (hence my new nickname “Slinger.”)
I didn’t have a clock on the race but my best guess was his final tour of the oval was in the :63-:65 second range. I can’t find published results but he was well under 15, Johnny and Nolan coming in around the 15:11 mark.
Nice running by everyone last night, but especially Andy “Slinger” Vasquez. Not for the last time, Giddyup!