Through my relatively short running career, I’ve come to realize that I’m not a short distance runner. Yet, when the opportunity presents itself, I can’t help being lured by promise of finishing a race in under 30 minutes. Sooner to the finish line, sooner to the food! And while the Longest Day Road Race didn’t start out on my priority list in 2016, I decided to throw my hat in the ring before the final price increase!
One of the other things that attracted me to this race is its role in two BC Road Racing Series: the Lifestages Lower Mainland Road Race Series and the BC Super Series (by BC Athletics). By running a minimum number of qualifying races, runners have a chance to compete in these age-group based series. And while I’m by no means fast enough to place, it’s kind of cool to be ranked against the speediest runners in the province!
I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty rough week. By the time Friday rolled around, I was cranky and disinclined to do anything but sit on the couch…let alone run a race on a Friday night. And with the
promise threat of rain, my resolve started to waver. However, Kristin to the rescue! She offered me a ride – and some delightful company. So I rushed home after work, did a quick change, and we were off to the race!
Having only done the 5k once before (in 2010), and participated in the dreaded double-loop 10k last year, I was glad to have Kristin to point us in the right direction to the start line (which was not at all where I had expected it to be!). There were lots of familiar faces – my peeps from Forerunners, the West Van Run Crew, and a few folks whose names I don’t know but whose faces I’ve seen at many local running events.
I won a prize! But since it was a gift certificate for a women’s clothing and jewellery store, Kirstin was the lucky recipient.
The race itself went reasonably well. There was a slight uphill at the beginning, a short, steep slope at about 2k, and a very brief incline to the finish. Otherwise, it was pretty much flat or downhill. I’ll talk about results shortly.
Post-race, there is a BBQ. Lots of food, including (lukewarm) veggie burgers (or meat burgers for the carnivores), veggies, fruit, brownies with ice cream, cookies, drinks, pudding…pretty much anything you could ask for. And since the weather turned out to be quite ideal for an evening race, we enjoyed it all while sitting on the grass in the sunset.
That’s right…sunset! No rain at all!
Generally, I’m quite positive when it comes to my race reviews, and try to give the benefit of the doubt when things don’t go as well as expected. But having participated in a fair number of races in the past few years, I’ve become a bit more…discerning. And, unfortunately, there were a few things about the race organization this year that left me wanting.
Setup – Although Kristin beelined us handily to the start line, things unravelled a wee bit at that stage. Weirdly, the entrance to the race area was through the finish line…there didn’t really seem to be any other option, with fences and whatnot. We started looking for bib pickup, and wandered around for quite a while before finding it rather hidden amongst a bunch of other sponsor tents. There were no signs or volunteers pointing us in the right direction. I was confused.
Gear Check – To be fair, we may have dallied before heading to gear check, but we gave ourselves about half an hour. There were just two stalwart young volunteers at the gear check, fielding request/demands from some of the 1,000 runners attending the event. They desperately needed help, but no one was around. Although we got our bags checked in time for the race, we left a long line behind us, and I suspect others weren’t as successful. I saw a few folks running with backpacks, which I don’t imagine was their intention.
Start Line – The Start Line was down the hill about 100 metres, and the only way to get there was by walking through the Finish Line…just as the Kids’ 1k was finishing. I found this exceedingly odd, and the poor kids were dodging hundreds of adults heading in the opposite direction. Unlike last year, when the 10k started about 15 minutes after the 5k, we all started together. Crowded in and unsure how far forward to be (I mean, the 5k-ers might want to head out faster, right?), there was an unassuming cap gun – no announcement, no warning, and a minute before the scheduled start time – and everyone was off.
…And within metres of the Start, an SUV heading down the road towards us. Because, somehow, they ended up on the course. No worries, they stopped, but we all had to flow around them. Something went wrong.
Rubbish – I’ve already mentioned the BBQ. It was great. Food. Yum. And then it was time to go and nary a garbage can or recycling bin in sight. Seriously, it wasn’t a huge space, and we wandered about for almost ten minutes carrying our trash, trying to find somewhere to put it. In the end, we had to go against the flow of people who were still picking up their food, to find the one bin at the end of the food line. It made no sense. I was frustrated.
In the end, for all my whining and complaining, I enjoyed the race. I had very low expectations for my own performance, having done
very little absolutely no speed training in the past month. But as I approached the Finish Line, my running hero Rob Watson was there shouting ‘Sprint! Sprint!!’ and I did and I surged uphill and passed at least three people and got there sooner than I imagined I would. It was not my best time, but it was not the flattest course, and I was pleased with my results. And it was all over in less than 30 minutes!
This race has been around for at least 10 years. It’s a good race, great local representation, and good food. I was disappointed this year…but I believe with some small tweaks it can be made better. Last year was better. I trust that next year will be better, too.
Chip Time: 24:05
Average Pace: 4:49 min/km
Place Overall: 168/715
Age Category Place: 38/104
(I mentioned this last year, too…rather than 5- or 10-year age groupings, I was in the 40-59 category!)
*Special thanks to Debra Kato for pretty much every photo in this post!
Longest Day Road Race 5k – Quick Review
Social Media: There wasn’t a lot of social media activity, but regular email updates kept us abreast of the event as it approached, and the pre-race instructions were quite detailed.
Packet Pickup: Although there was package pickup at the Running Room on Thursday, I just went to the pickup table (once I found it) on race day.
T-Shirt/Swag: You could get a t-shirt for purchase – but I have more than enough race shirts, so no need to buy one! No swag or medal for this race.
Course: A fairly straightforward loop of the UBC campus – slightly uphill at the beginning and end, and briefly in the middle. Otherwise, a substantial downhill in the first kilometre, with everything else reasonably flat.
Post-Race: A great BBQ with loads of good food, music, festivities…quite a good bit of fun! Draw prizes, too!
Organization: As noted in more detail in the full report, this year’s organization left a lot to be desired. The ‘festival’ setup was extremely confusing, bag check was understaffed, and the start line was chaos. I really think there’s some room for improvement, with just a few tweaks.
Would I Run It Again? I’m kind of on the fence. While I’m glad that I ran the 5k after 5 years, the rushing from work to get to a race kind of stressed me out this time around. Let’s give it a solid maybe.