Here’s another “better late than never” race recap from the summer . . .
My wife and I wanted to run a second race in July, and while we wavered between a 5K and a 10K, we decided to run a 5K because both of us had been dealing with lingering injuries and running reduced mileage throughout the summer. We saw ads for a 5K/10K supporting the Rhonda Walker Foundation, a charity founded by local TV news anchor Rhonda Walker that helps empower inner city teen girls.
The race started and ended in a big parking lot across the street from the Somerset Collection, an upscale mall in suburban Detroit. The weather was perfect for running, and the packet pick up was well organized and went smoothly. Rhonda Walker was making the rounds among the crowd before and after the race, and she was very approachable and gracious; another local celebrity, Mojo from the local radio morning show “Mojo in the Morning,” was Grand Marshal. We weren’t familiar with the route ahead of time, except from looking at a map that showed it going through some neighborhoods and around a park and school. It looked like it would be a pretty peaceful route with no busy streets and minimal traffic.
We gathered in the start corral after doing some warm up strides, and got ready to race. As we were getting ready to start a few minutes after the scheduled time, an announcement was made that the 10K would be starting first, so the 10K runners and walkers were to move to the front of the corral. We weren’t aware until then that there would be separate starts, but no big deal. We waited a few more minutes, then the 5K started. There were volunteers directing us out of the parking lot and into the neighborhood, and there were some signs in the ground directing us where to turn. All was going smoothly to this point.
Then we got to a park and a school about halfway through the race and there were no more volunteers. There were still a few signs, but not as many as there had been earlier in the race and not in the most ideal spots. I had no idea where to go, and I wasn’t alone. It was a fairly small race with many walkers, so the runners had become pretty strung along by this point and it wasn’t as simple as just following the person in front of me. Once the course started to lack directions, a guy running near me and I were basically lost and just kept running until we saw a sign. We had no idea we were supposed to run across a school parking lot then turn onto a sidewalk and double back in the direction from which we had just come. When we got back into the neighborhood, we had no idea where we were supposed to turn.
We just kept running around the neighborhood until the distance looked reasonable (we didn’t want to hit the finish line at a ridiculously short distance like 2.6 miles). Then we figured out where to go to exit the neighborhood and head toward the finish, and I realized I ran around the neighborhood too much because I’d be well over 3.1 miles. Oh well. I encountered a few other racers in the neighborhood, and all of them were lost, too. I finally made it to the finish line after running 3.54 miles (per my Garmin) in 23:32, for a 6:40 average pace. I was hoping to run at a pace closer to 6:20 or 6:25, but with all of the confusion and the stopping and starting along the second half of the course trying to figure out where to go, I can’t complain. I was very happy that my hamstring didn’t bug me during the race, though it was sore after the race. My wife had the same problems with poor markings along the second half of the course, and she ran approximately the same distance I did despite us running vastly different routes over the last couple miles of the race.
There was a health expo in the Somerset Collection following the race, so we hung out there while we waited for the award ceremony. Detroit City Council President (and former local TV news anchor) Charles Pugh was on stage greeting award winners; he ran the 10K and spoke to the crowd about losing a lot of weight recently through a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise. It seemed like the results would be a disaster due to running almost a half mile extra, so my wife and I were shocked to learn that we had won our respective age groups – we had absolutely no idea until they presented the awards. I guess everyone was in pretty much the same boat with the course issues, so our age group placements must have evened out in the end due to most of the other runners running too far as well. It was pretty frustrating having the course be so poorly marked, but we were happy with the age group awards and tried to keep in mind that we were supporting a good cause. When we registered for the race, we thought it was at least the second year for the race and thus expected it to better organized at the start and be better marked. But we found out just before the start that it was the second year for the expo and the first year for the race. I’m sure they will learn from this year’s mistakes and mark the course better next year, as this has the potential to be a very good race in a nice suburban area.
Chip time: 23:34
Garmin time: 23:32 (3.54 miles)
Pace (per Garmin): 6:40/mile
Age group: 1/14
Slowest mile (per Garmin): 7:06 (mile 3)
Fastest mile (per Garmin): 6:27 (mile 1)