I’ve become a much savvier racer over the years. Not only do I understand how to actually run a good race in terms of moving my feet and pacing myself, I also understand how to RUN a good race. As in, the logistics that make a race work smoothly for the participants. After running or volunteering at close to 75 races in the past 5 years I know what runners want.
And, to be perfectly honest, very few first time events go off without a hitch. Sometimes the quirks are forgivable. Sometimes they aren’t even noticed by anyone who isn’t a hardcore runner. And other times you can tell a race is having some serious growing pains that make you scratch your head and wonder, “Have these people ever put on a race before?”
In the case of the Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K on Saturday, September 29th the event management company has a history of putting on races, including some well known and large scale ones. They also put on some races that I would call “gimmicky.” Saturday night’s race definitely fell into the gimmicky category.
A night race that takes place entirely inside a cemetery with glow-in-the dark shirts? Yeah, that’s a gimmick.
But it was a gimmick I was down for. It combined several of my favorite things.
1. Running in the dark.
2. Evening start time (7:00 PM)
3. A cemetery (I love running in cemeteries)
As my husband and I stood around waiting for it to get closer to the actual race start time I realized that there were a TON of people wearing the race shirt. I’m firmly in the camp that you do not wear the shirt of the race you’re running. Call it a quirk, but there it is. Most of the people I run with feel the same way. So, I immediately suspected I was surrounded by some unseasoned racers. Shortly before 7:00 PM I positioned myself as close to the start line as I dared even though the race was chip timed. I really didn’t want to get stuck behind people who didn’t know what they were doing. Nothing like trying to dodge other runners in the dark!
At 6:55 the announcer informed us that the start time would be delayed by a few minutes. Then it was 10 minutes. Then it was 15. Then we were promised 5 more minutes over and over again. It was like being trapped in an airport with a delayed flight!
The crowd was sympathetic at first and then we boisterously booed the announcer after the third or fourth “5 more minutes” promise. Finally, at 7:25 the race started.
By the way, I ran a 25:XX 5K (more on that later) so I would have been done by then if the race had started on time.
Once we were in the cemetery I could see why it was taking them so long to set up the course. They very kindly put glass votive candle holders along all of the turns so we would know where the edges of the street were. How do I know they were glass? Pretty sure I heard at least one shatter when someone kicked it while passing someone else.
The course was definitely dark, but I had my headlamp so I was okay. Other people, not so much. The arrows directing us where to go were not lit up so some people got off-course. Frustrating!
I finished a strong 5K and was super proud of how I had done. Unfortunately because of the late start time I wasn’t able to stay for the awards ceremony or enjoy the after party because my husband who had been attempting to spectate was HUNGRY. Got to get that man some food.
Also, I say attempting to spectate because they basically wouldn’t let spectators in past the finish line. Plus, watching a race in the dark isn’t that exciting.
I may or may not be in that photo.
My GPS watch claimed I ran 3.16 miles in 25:14. When I looked at the official results on Sunday I was disheartened to see that my official time was 25:40 even though they had RFID timing mats at both the start and the finish line. But, I was buoyed by the fact that I apparently came in 2nd in my age group! Until Monday when I checked my results again and saw I’d been bumped down to 3rd. I’m still not sure what happened there. But it left a bad taste in my mouth.
I really wanted to love this race, but here’s how it breaks down.
*Not many runners so a good chance to get an age group award
*Only people who registered online beforehand got an official time
Bitter about it
*Delayed start! Hopefully this will be easily remedied in the future.
*Slightly unsafe course conditions. No suggestion to people that they should wear a headlamp. Need more lighting on the course directional arrow.
*No course map!
*Confusing results situation
*Unisex tech tee. I would love to wear it but a men’s small is way too big.
*Expensive! $35 for a 5K is too much, especially with no goodie bag and a useless shirt. Of course, some of that probably went to permits, but still.
*Limited spectator interaction
Most of the downsides can easily be remedied by using this as a learning experience for future races. Would I run this again? Right after I finished I would have said yes. But the more I think about it the more I think I’d rather just ride my bike to the cemetery to check it out in the daytime and save my $$.