Sitting in second place and a mile away from the finish line, Paul Robinson had two options: try and maintain his lead against some of the top local runners, or eat a burger.
Robinson chose the latter and ended up in fifth place, but $100 richer. He was content with his decision, to say the least.
"I thought it was easier to eat the burger than try to finish with some of the top guys," he said.
On Sunday morning during Team Run Flagstaff's second annual Snowbowl Road Climb, the NAU graduate student was running with Chris Gomez and Brian Folts before passing the Mama Burger station. After 10 seconds, Robinson turned around headed toward his soon-to-be prize money.
There, Robinson was halfway through the burger before last year's burger king Ryan Stevens came by and Robinson waved his half-eaten burger at the approaching runner.
"I made sure to show him how much I had left because I didn't want any challengers," Robinson said. "The first couple bites were awful but then I got into a rhythm."
Once done, Robinson felt a renewed burst of energy before he finished the 7-mile course in 54 minutes, 8 seconds.
"I was rejuvenated," he said. "I thought I could catch a few people."
Not Jeffrey Eggleston, though. The professional road runner won the race for the second straight year, this time in 47:23. Again, Eggleston was bummed there wasn't a veggie option, otherwise he would have tried his hand at wolfing down a meal a mile before the finish line. Gomez finished in second in 50:04, Felts in third in 50:27 and Stevens was fourth in 53:34.
Gomez, who often wins Flagstaff's Summer Running Series races, was a spectator last year and decided to take part this time around. It'll be another year before he thinks about trying the burger, though.
"I'll get a good feel for the race and then eat a burger," Gomez joked. "I was trying to keep Jeffrey close, like within five minutes."
Janet Cherobon-Bawcom was the first woman to cross, finishing in 54:34. The professional runner has lived in Flagstaff for about two months and has participated in a few of the local races, though Eggleston had to persuade her to try the uphill course that features more than 2,200-feet of climbing. Cherobon-Bawcom missed the burger station and was confused about when the course ended. She was behind Stevens and about ready to stop at the first chair lift before Stevens kept running and turned the corner.
"I thought Ryan had gotten lost," she said.
Sara Wagner came in second in the women's race in 1:00:52, Jessica McKenna was third (1:05:15), Amanda Lee was fourth (1:07:16) and Marci Wills came in fifth (1:11:09).
All of them passed on the burger, however, as did several others before Prescott's Jessica Owen passed the stand and learned no one had won the women's challenge yet. She finished it without too much trouble but the last stretch of the race proved a bit more difficult.
"The last 1 1/2 (miles), it kind of sat hard (in my stomach)," Owen said. 'I'll probably do it again next year.
"It's nice there's prizes for us middle-of-the-pack runners."
Jacob May can be reached at email@example.com or 556-2257. Follow him on Twitter @JacobBMay