On Friday night, Jennie and I did a holiday 5k. It was the inaugural Yule Run, I’ll Walk 5k. The race was a big hit – bigger than anticipated by the race director. While it was a very good race, the larger than anticipated crowd, caused some hiccups (more on that later). Regardless, we both had great races and more importantly we had a blast.
It was a hustle to get to the race. Because this was an evening run, it meant getting ready, having a snack, and driving to race all after Jennie got home from work at 5:30. Nevertheless, we got to the race site and quickly got our race number and packet. The first thing I noticed was that there was no timing chip. This should be interesting. After making sure there wasn’t supposed to be a chip, we headed back to the car to try and stay warm before the race started – it was windy and in the mid-30’s.
We eventually crawled out of the warm car and headed to the starting line. We lined up near the front as there was a family fun walk as well and it wasn’t clear where one event ended and one began. I was shocked at the number of parents that were encouraging their 8 and 9 year olds to get lined up way in the front. There was a little kid, maybe 5 or 6, whose mom (possibly Grandma) was encouraging him right up to toeing the line. Now, I realize this was a family event and not an uber competitive race, but it seemed really dangerous to have such a small kid that close to the front.
Anyways, the gun (guy yelling “Go” after the mega phone malfunctioned) went off any we were off. To my knowledge, no children were trampled, so I guess it was a success.
I took off at a fast pace and felt great right away. I immediately knew that it was going to be a great race. As I approached the first mile there was someone yelling times. I went by at “5:34” (quotes used because he must have been at the wrong spot as my Garmin had me at 6:01). After the first mile, we entered the Nite Lites exhibit at 5th/3rd Ballpark – the local minor league baseball team’s stadium. While fun to run through, the Nite Lites exhibit was a big disappointment. Definitely not something I would pay $12 to drive through.
I completely missed the 2nd mile mark and really had no idea what the course was. That’s what I get for not looking at the website carefully enough. What ended up being the final mile sucked – for a couple of reasons. Number 1, I didn’t know it was the 3rd mile (it was too dark to read my Garmin). Number 2, I had a guy draft off me the entire 2nd half of the race. And number 3, I didn’t know where the finish line was.
Number 1 is pretty and number 3 pretty much go together. By not familiarizing myself with the course ahead of time, I didn’t have any idea where I was at in the race. More importantly, I didn’t know where the finish line was to start my kick. I thought I had almost a half mile to go when we turned off and crossed the finish line. Oh well, that is what I get for not doing my research.
Number 2, the drafter, was the most annoying part of the race. He fell in behind me at about the halfway point (or as best I can estimate the halfway point) and remained there until the final stretch. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake him. The entire 3rd mile was into the wind, so he was definitely getting an advantage by tucking in behind me. I even tried slowing down a bit to see if he would pass me and I could draft off him for a bit. I have no problem with drafting, it would just be nice to share the effort – one person shouldn’t be doing all work. In the end, he took off in the final 100 yards and beat me by about 15 seconds. Had I known where the finish line was, I could have probably made a better effort at holding him off, but I thought I had a ways to go still and never got a chance to kick.
I crossed the finish line in 18:33. Holy cow! A huge 5k PR!! Oh wait… what is that other number on my watch… 2.96 miles. Crap. Yet another poorly measured course. After checking the website after the race, I found the problem. They measured the course correctly, but for some reason they moved the starting line .15 miles down the road rather than starting it where it was measured. Based on my pace, it probably would have been a PR, so this race goes into the category of “PR”.
After finishing, I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back out on the course to look for Jennie. I caught up with her with about a quarter mile to go. She was doing great and finished with a smile on her face. She finished with a “PR” too. She had her fastest pace yet in a 5k and would have had an official PR as well if the course had been correctly measured.
Because I was fairly certain I had placed in the top 5 of my age group (20-29), we decided to hang out for the awards ceremony. So, after getting some hot chocolate and hot cider at the refreshments table, we headed into the boat house to wait (the event was at the Grand Rapids Rowing Club). And there we waited and waited and waited. Luckily, it was fairly warm in the boat house because of all the people there. We had some entertainment too in the form of 3 pre-teens running around and signing. I tried to get a video of them signing Dynamite but they were too quick and energetic. They were hilarious to watch – way too much energy for having just run a 5k. One of them, a 9 year old, even took 5th in the 14 and under age group in a field of 31 kids.
At long last, the race director showed up after tallying the results. I ended up taking 2nd in my age group!!! Woohoo!!! And the best part is that the guy who drafted off of me must have been in the 15-19 age group because he wasn’t first in my age group. First in my age group was 30 seconds ahead of me. Overall, I am super happy with my race.
As this was the first year for this race, there were some definite snafus. Regardless, it was a great first year. The schwag was top notch – a long sleeve t-shirt (you had a choice of short sleeve, long sleeve, or sweatshirt) and a Christmas ornament. The logo is the same on the shirt and ornament and says “Millions of Lights, Miles of Fun”. The ornament was a very cool touch for the Christmas theme.
The two biggest complaints I have with the race are the timing/results problem and the short course. I’m not sure what happened with the course or why they moved the starting line so far forward. However, as for the timing/results, they addressed that issue nicely on their website:
“Results are off a little – and we apologize. This was our first outing and we thank you for the overwhelming participation. We expected somewhere in the low 200’s and then we got 400 ADDITIONAL entries this past week and nearly 200 tonight. We also expected a much higher ratio of walkers to runners also. Kudo’s to each of you who went for it in the 5K.
We had several unregistered runners who ran in the race and then finished in the chute and that caused us issues because of a miscommunication at the end of the chute. Because of that all times after the first 65, or so, will be advanced by one to six times over actual times.
We pledge to make changes next year –- likely chip timing — given the number of participants that turned out and our hope that you will continue to come to our unique Yule season run. So again please accept our apology and we hope for your understanding all things considered.”
I thought their response was very nice and I am glad they acknowledged the problem. I completely understand how hard it must be to estimate the turnout for an inaugural event – especially when you have 200 day of event registrations.
Regardless of the problems, I’m sure we’ll be back next year.
I wore my Saucony Kinvaras for this race. These shoes are fast becoming my go-to pair of shoes. I absolutely love them. They are comfortable, fast, and look great on top of that. The hunter orange color I got have been a huge hit and I have gotten lots of compliments on them. I have now run fast short distance with these shoes as well as a long 20 miler with no issues. Depending on how many miles I get out of them before they have to be retired, I may make them my primary shoe. I currently get about 450-500 miles out of my Brooks DYADs, so if I can get that out of these, I make have to send Brooks a Dear John letter. For a great review of the Kinvara, check out this post by Joel @ TriMadness.
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