Sometimes the tail wags the dog when it comes to picking which races to run in. In this case, the Marathon Sports 5 Mile Race offered the promise of a sweet Brooks tech t-shirt for a limited number of entrants, plenty of motivation for me to try my first race at a distance in between 5K and half-marathon. In addition to the shirt, the race promised a mix of surfaces and a good chance to test myself on what was described as a “moderately difficult” course. It didn’t disappoint.
The race started at Weston High School and I have to say Marathon Sports did a great job in terms of directing people to the multiple parking lots, which can be a headache and cause of stress at many other races. Set up on the school’s large grassy fields was a mini race expo and a large number of port-o-potties very close to the start line, also very much appreciated. Not much to speak of in terms of booths at the expo, though the people at the Brooks booth were very helpful and eager to talk. Otherwise it was a very easy process to pick up my number and shirt and I was soon toeing the line to start.
The race started rather unconventionally for a “road” race. Taking me back to my high school cross country days, the race started on a grassy field with a bunch start. With no chip timing, it was important to get close to the start line to not lose too much time. There was a big mix of very competitive looking runners and more “recreational” runners, with the BAA team doing its best to position itself at the front of the pack, even though I am informed by Mrs. Yeti that none of them did particularly well. A slight downhill out of the gate led to a quick start punctuated by nearly running into a metal gate post and the entire field running smack into a wooden barricade where we were supposed to turn left. Those two incidents proved to be the only hiccups on the course.
As promised, the course featured a mix of rolling hills, decent downhill sections, and long flats, mostly on pavement for the better part of the course. None of the hills was especially difficult, but the course had an unrelenting sense to it with few opportunities to really settle into a rhythm on the flats. There were also a decent number of turns on the course. Having race volunteers calling out splits at each mile was great but the water stops could have been slightly better staffed I think.
Winding through the streets of the neighborhood around the school, we eventually looped back towards the school itself, this time detouring around back to a grassy section covering a little over a quarter mile. I can’t say I loved this section, not being a big fan of running on grass because I feel like it saps my energy. Grass turned into a very short trail section, which proved fairly rocky, before transitioning onto the school’s track, which had a modern artificial surface, for the last 300 meters of the race. Spurred on by a couple Race Menu team members shouting “Go get ‘em Big G!” I kicked in for a time of 36:02, basically running roughly even 7 minute miles for the first 3 miles then 7:30s for the last two. I’ll take the setting of a new PR any day, even if it’s a default PR.
Really my only niggle with the race was the lack of water and other refreshments right at the finish line area, but they were right around the corner and I basically just missed it by going in a different direction from the finish line. Overall, a great race experience!