By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
For a few minutes on Sunday, there were 33,000 people chasing Robert Scribner.
It was one of the best experiences of his life.
Scribner, a 27-year-old Tupelo native, finished fourth in the Shamrock Shuffle 8K in Chicago, in what he describes as perhaps the best race he’s ever run. He finished in 23:17, nine seconds behind winner Phillip Reid.
“I actually took the lead in the fourth mile, and I haven’t often found myself in the lead at that point,” Scribner said Monday. “This was a breakthrough pace for me. I beat a lot of people I’ve never beaten.”
His high finish helped his race team, the Michigan-based Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, to a narrow victory in the USA Track and Field national club 8K championship that was part of the day’s race. Scribner’s team finished one-hundredth of a second ahead of Reid’s Asics Aggie Running Club when the times of the top four finishers were averaged out.
Scribner and Shamrock runner-up Jacob Riley were part of the Hansons Brooks team that won the men’s national cross country championship in December.
“The thing in December was a more significant event. but this was a really big road race,” Scribner said.
And Scribner felt that he rose to the occasion.
“Jacob was the individual winner in the national cross country championship and I was 30th, a minute behind him,” Scribner said. “To be next to Jake on Sunday with a quarter-mile to go was significant, because I know he’s a great runner.”
At Tupelo High School, Scribner won the state cross country title in 2003 and the 3,200 in 2004. At Mississippi State, he set the school record in the 10,000 meters during an outstanding college career.
His 8K time on Sunday bested his career best at that distance by 35 seconds.
“I felt like I was building up to this, but I didn’t yet have a race that showed that,” he said. “In running, you never know for sure until you deliver that performance.”
Next, Scribner and his team return to track running, where he will be aiming to improve on his previous bests in the 5K (14:13) and 10K (29:07) runs.
“Seems like I could smash those barriers,” he said. “Now I just have to go do it.”