I think quite possibly this will go down as the oddest race I have ever run…but I will get to that in a minute. I hadn’t planned on running a race before my target Half Marathon at the end of August but I have been on or under my target training paces and I also needed the confidence booster so I signed up on late Thursday, strangely this was the only race across three counties, LA, Orange and Ventura, an almost perfect storm!
Despite less than stellar reviews on active.com I was out of choices, that being said I was really there on my own agenda and set my expectations of the event low. I should add that the race was being run in conjunction with a balloon festival.
I’ll spare you all the pre race stuff. I arrived parked and signed in, despite registering online, my entry was missing, the website had crashed I was told! No problem it’s not like I was going to bandit it! I was asked if wanted to buy a race shirt; buy? No thanks, white cotton shirts I do not need.
I started talking to another guy in a singlet and we ran off to find the course, we found some signs and followed the arrows but we were a mile or so short! When we got back more people had signed in, there was a lot of confusion about where the start was which was only added to when they announced over tannoy that there would be a 10 minutes delay. Eventually we were given a briefing and then a little farm truck drove up…we were told to follow it; WTF? At this point I really just wanted to get going as I had been there nearly an hour! Eventually we were told to line up and so we did behind the truck, with a 3..2..1 we were off.
I had set my Garmin with a 6:15-6:30 alert spread, within the first 1/4 mile it was chiming, yeah a 5:47 pace would do that I guess! I eased off and found a comfortable groove a little under 6:30, the course wound its way through orange orchards, there were some sharp right angle turns and mostly the path was dirt or sand, not the best but it was what it was. I consciously did not wear my iPod I wanted to make sure I was focused on the running, here are the details:
As you can see it was a bit short, I was really running the tangents so I suppose that accounted for it! I had passed one other runner and then in the last 1/4 mile I was passed by two, I kicked too early for the finish and faded with them beating me by 5 seconds or so. And then the fun began…there was no real time keeping other than someone calling out the times and someone trying to write them down and catch everyone’s numbers’ easy when it’s one or two but when ten runners come through it was impossible.
Ultimately the whole timing thing was a complete cluster and I ended up helping trying to identify the Age Group winners, with the guest runner Gary Tuttle and his wife, the organizers were nowhere to be seen.
How not to organize the results…too much ganga!
The website noted that there would be awards three deep per age group and it appeared that I had come third! We had to wait till the last runner had finished of course and she crossed the line a fraction under the hour. After that we were directed to the stage where the awards would be presented…but first we treated to 20 minutes of the band:
Sorry but they were not good…can you tell by the fan base!
A marriage proposal…she said yes, well actually she said “'yes I'll take him”! Romantic!
And the vintage tractor parade!
Finally 75 minutes after I finished, they started handing out the awards…to the Age Group Winners only…i.e. One Deep oh and then I found out was bumped into 4th! Well the sun had come out and I was enjoying that!
So in the end I was 12th overall and came fourth in my Age Group! The good news I finished in an official…well as official as some calling it out, 19:11 a new PR by 31 seconds. I am really pleased given the twisty nature and surface and now I can revisit the training plan with a current 5k time to recalibrate my training paces for the next four weeks till race day.
In case you’re wondering I won’t be going back next year!