I have a love/hate relationship with early start times. I love being out early when few others are awake, I love getting a run done while it’s still cool, I love having most of the day still left after I get home. But the 5:15am wakeup call does not feel good. However, for the Red White and Blues 5k I was especially glad for the 7am start time, since we were expecting another day in the mid-90s.
As usual, I aimed to get to the start line an hour before the 7am start. Parking at South Waterfront was no issue when I got there at 6:10am, and I just had a short walk around the South Lawn of Waterfront Park to get to the start line near the Salmon Street Fountain. The temperature was at a comfortable 65* by then. At this time of the morning, packet pickup and gear check was very quick and easy. The Front Porch Stage area of the Waterfront Blues Fest was a perfect venue for the start/finish area, offering vendor tents already set up, tables and chairs, and a dance floor!
I spent a good amount of time people watching and looking at the Red-White-and-Blue costumes that runners came up with. I caught up with fellow blogger Matt Rasmussen for a few minutes before it was time to get to the starting chute and for the singing of the National Anthem. I very much appreciate the fact that the announcer reminded everybody to take off their hats and caps and even more that most people complied.
In the starting corral there were no directions regarding lining up by pace, no volunteers with pace signs were placed along the sidelines, and after the race got started I noticed many groups of walkers lined up closer to the front than they probably should have. Thankfully the three northbound lanes of Naito Parkway were wide enough to allow some weaving and passing without too much trouble.
The course for the 5k was different from most races I have run downtown. From the Salmon Street fountain we headed north on Naito Pkwy to the turnaround point just past the Burnside Bridge. Heading south again, we got to the first water station and then took the on-ramp onto the Morrison Bridge, where we were guided to stay on the sidewalk. Volunteers were placed at many critical points of the course to point out direction changes as well as bumps and curbs to watch out for. Coming across the Morrison Bridge, I heard a train whistle and was wondering if we would be delayed by a train, but the turnaround point after heading north on Water Ave was just before the railroad crossing (which had its bars down for the train passing through). Heading south on Water Ave there were two little one block jaunts to a turnaround point to get the mileage just right, until we ran towards the Eastside Esplanade and the pedestrian/biker on-ramp to the Hawthorne Bridge. Across the bridge and down the ramp, the finish line was in sight, and the downhill made it easy to finish strong.
Just a few steps past the finish line, volunteers were handing me a water bottle, finisher’s medal and a small American Flag. I walked through the Salmon Street Fountain to cool off and watched the little kiddos splashing in the water. Back in the start/finish are I found my way to the beer tent offering a selection of several different beers, hard lemonades, and hard cider, and right next to it was the soft drink tent with several sodas, Snapple products and water to choose from. I found some friends to hang out with for a while while drinking all my liquids and appreciated the shade cast by the trees and overhead shade sails.
Overall it was a very pleasant and well-run event. There was wonderful course support with water stations at every mile (two more water stations that initially announced), easy to find registration/gear check/drink booth, and a mostly flat course that crossed the river twice. Adding pace signs to the starting corral would help out the first half mile considerably. At the end, I was surprised that there weren’t the usual post-run sacks (bananas, oranges, bagels), but since I picked up my race packed the same morning, there were several packs of snack food in there. I can definitely see myself running this event again.