Being a first-time event I was expecting it to be a bare-bones run with a some points for improvement, but for the registration fee of $5 per runner over 13 years and under 12 running for free it was well worth participating. The city was able to offer this event at a very low cost to participants because it was mainly funded by a “Healthy Eating, Active Living” grant and donations from local businesses. My family of four signed up for the 5k, choosing not to have the kids run the half-mile kids dash.The race course was a point-to-point course starting at Town Center Park and ending at the Family Fun Center. Participants were encouraged to park at the Family Fun Center, and a shuttle bus was available to ride to the start. However, since the start was just two blocks away from the finish, we decided to walk.
Packet pickup was quick and easy, and even though I had registered after the deadline for guaranteed shirts, we were still able to each get our race shirt. There was no clock or bib numbers, but those who really care about their time would time themselves. Having packet pickup located at the start of a point-to-point race meant that we carried our swag bag with us during the run, but since we wore our shirts and reindeer antlers, carrying the reusable bag was not a big deal to me.
The roads on the course were open to traffic, and runners and walkers were asked to stay on sidewalks and obey traffic rules and lights. After the usual dodging and darting during the first half mile, the field of close to 300 runners stretched out quickly on the walk/bike path around the field owned by Mentor Graphics, and after that the sidewalks were able to accommodate us very well. Volunteers from the high school’s National Honor Society were positioned at every turn, making the course easy to follow.
The finish line of the race was the back gate of the Family Fun Center, where Bullwinkle the moose congratulated finishers with a high-five. The post-race “Bullwinkle Bash” was held in a party room inside the Fun Center, where runners could be out of the cool drizzle and enjoy drinks, bananas, Qdoba’s Mexican Gumbo, and a slice of Bullwinkle’s pizza. Kids and the young at heart had an opportunity for holiday crafts, face painting, and pictures with Santa or Bullwinkle.
Overall it was a fun morning and a well organized event, especially considering that it was in its first year. The city employees who I talked with during the post-race bash were very open to suggestions, and chances are good that next year’s event will have a race clock and better logistics regarding packet pickup of a point-to-point race.