This race has outgrown its humble beginnings. It wasn’t clear to me when I registered that this was a “fun run” had I known that I might have chosen a different race or just run with another group of friends. Nonetheless, we had a fun time and enjoyed the beautiful Thanksgiving morning!
We arrived in plenty of time, checked-in, and waited around. There was hot water with instant coffee, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider available. I went for the cider and Nathan, Mike, and Emily went for the coffee – I was the only one who walked away happy. Registration went smoothly and Nathan and I did a warm-up lap around Como Lake. It is about 1.6 miles around the lake and we got a little confused by the mile markers. They didn’t represent miles or kilometers….
Como Lake is a nice setting for a race and it was a beautiful morning. Upper 20’s or lower 30’s and a lot wind, with the lake having a thin layer of ice on top. Some snow lingered around the lake and frost on the little dock. The rising sun would have made for an amazing picture – but I forgot my camera and I’m not good at creating a word picture, so just imagine it!
We made our way to the starting line and waited, and waited, and waited some more. They were waiting to get everyone out of the registration area. The race director made some announcements, but some in the crowd were getting a little anxious to start. We finally started exactly 15 minutes late. The director had tried to help the front of the pack separate into some semblance of finish times which if people actually followed would have made for a decent start. At these races though no one really starts in the right spot unless they are super-fast on the front line!
I was on the far outside 3-5 rows deep and was able to dart out and around a huge chunk of slower runners. Paul, another runner in our group, got stuck on the inside and struggled to get around slower runners. I settled into a comfortable pace and started picking off runners, while dodging walkers. Even during the first lap there was a lot of walkers on the trail. Some were neighbors of the lake, while others were wearing race numbers and should have started behind us… For the first lap it wasn’t too much of a problem because they were in small groups. About .75 miles into the race we turned a corner and got hit by a pretty strong headwind which we faced for about the next mile. Shortly before the first mile mark a father was letting his 4 young boys run around with the runners. They paid no attention to us almost cutting me off a few times. I think if this wasn’t a holiday I may have gotten upset. I tried to stay relaxed and have some fun. I was enjoying slowly picking people off! I ran the first mile in 6:37.
It was pretty much more of the same as we came through the finish line area and back past the starting line. At this point the trail started to really be getting crowded with walkers, strollers, and dogs. I tried to stay relaxed and zigged and zagged my way around them without making any quick movements and trying to run the tangents as much as possible. I was feeling pretty relaxed and comfortable as I came through mile 2 in 6:35.
The last mile was all in the wind again which wasn’t overly pleasant and the runners were pretty spread out while the walkers were getting thicker. I looked up ahead and saw a woman running and a man in shorts and set myself to try and beat them both. So I slowly picked up the pace and worked on my zig zag technique and ran mile 3 in 6:16.
As we turned the corner into the homestretch I still hadn’t caught either of the people I wanted to pass and couldn’t see shorts guy anymore but the woman was with in reach – as long as she didn’t kick too hard! I turned it on and went flying past her and strode across the finish line, pretty happy with myself!! The last 0.1 miles was in 0:32 which is 4:41 pace! Overall 5K time was 20:01. I had no expectations for this race so that was fine… it would have been nice to get under 20 since I was so close, but oh well!!
Talking with people who know the race director they said something like 600 people had pre-registered for the event, for smaller events you plan to double your pre-registered numbers, but there was a 700 participant limit. I would wager that they got pretty close. Since this was a fun run they didn’t have an official timing system or results. In his pre-race announcements the director indicated that next year they will be changing the course so that the runners aren’t lapping the walkers and creating a mess in the middle of the race. That would be a most excellent idea, especially if they can keep it flat! I occasionally enjoy low-key events and this would rank up there as fairly low-key. Charities Challenge is trying to encourage everyone to exercise and it is a hard balance between attracting lots of runners (of all speeds) and families who just want to walk together while supporting a good cause.
A lot of the walkers had pinned sheets of paper on their backs which said, “I am thankful for…” It was a good reminder throughout the race that I should be thankful for my abilities. Many of them were too long to actually read while I ran by, but it is nice to see people celebrating family!
Media Coverage Pre-Race on Kare11
Note: if you zoomed in really close on the map you could see the zig and zag but at the zoom level above it just looks like the same course.
[tags] Thanksgiving, 5K, Race Review, Charities Challenge [/tags]