Sunday, April 1, 2012

DC & The Hills Are Alive

Yesterday, I closed out my racing for March down in Washington DC for DC RUNNING CLUB's Inaugural The Hills are Alive 5K & 10K. This race ended up on my schedule as a result of three factors.

1 - Looking for a 10K on this particular weekend
2 - I was not going to be able to drive to a race on this particular weekend
3 - Schwaggle discount.

Since DC is not far away, in checking transit costs along with race fee, it was going to be the same amount as if I ran local. So I signed up at the end of FEB as it gave me a reason to race somewhere new. For this reason I was excited. Plus, it was a Saturday, meaning I could race and come home to have Sunday to relax.

As part of the trip, I decided to stay over Friday night at The Liaison hotel. This was highly convenient because around the corner was a Capital BikeShare station that I could get a bike at to ride to the race location at Fort Dupont Park since there was a station there to dock.

But enough of the logistics, the reason I am talking about this race on here is because it was a multi-terrian race. It was a mix of trail and road. And the trail portions were made up of some gravel, some dirt and some grass. Oh and the hills. 325 ft of elevation gain per 5k loop. And for the 10K, which was 2X the 5K loop, 650 ft. Since I traveled such a far distance, I was on for the 10K.

I arrived at the start at 7am to get my race packet. I did a short warm up to get a sense about a portion of the course I had questions about. And I was ready for the 8am start. At the start, it did not look like a lot of competition which disappointed me. I knew the 10 Miler was the next day but I did expect someone to make the race interesting. Once the race started, I was off. By the 1.5 mile mark I was up by nearly 400 meters. And the person behind me was doing the 5k! My first loop, I felt good with but knew the second was going to be tough. My in-race analysis of the course was it was difficult to get a solid pace as the terrain changed so often be it having a hill show up or changing from road to grass. And the second lap did not help. I tried to keep the engine going. For the most part I did and ended up with a good time for the torture of the course as it was definitely slow.

In the end 35:19 for a clear 1st. Yes, two minutes slower than my normal 10K. However, it was a nice challenge and a good transition to the roads this month. If anything I challenged my fitness. I'll blog about the 1st road race but after that, I will not talk so much about my races that don't fit into the goal of this blog to focus on more unusual races.

But before I end this post, I do want to discuss the race logistics. Overall, I found it lacking in the amenities one expects. At the race day pick-up. Numbers were not already assigned. The numbers were written next to the name on the list. Also, shirts were given after the races not before. Despite having a set number of sizes and number from registration rolls, the organizers ran out of shirts. Completely uncalled for. Finish line set-up lacked organization as there was no finishing shute. Finishing times were called out and written down as there was not proper timing equipment for the 200 participants. This created an amount of chaos. Thankfully the race numbers were color coded to the distance. So the organizers got that aspect right on the money.

That is not all. No awards. None. (I was told the planned donation for the award did not come through.) I find this sad because the organization has put on solid races with all of things they lacked here.

Yes, I am criticizing a race for not delivering what I expect. Had I paid the full fee of 40, I would be livid. Luckily I did not.

And it pains me because all the organizers were really nice people. The energy of the volunteers was very supportive.

Ironically, the 5K winner was also from Philly and we had seen each other around.

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