Race Recap: 2016 Hop Hop 5K

March is a fertile period for colorful, holiday themed races. It was a quick transition from the green, Irish-style festivities of St. Patrick’s Day events to the pastel bunny costumes of the Hop Hop Half and 5K. This year’s Hop Hop event, produced by Foot Traffic, took place on Saturday, March 26th in cool but sunny weather.

The 5k was scheduled to start 45 minutes after the half marathon, but I still made a point of arriving at the race site before the half began, in an attempt to avoid congestion and driving through the crowd of runners. But I really didn’t need to be so prompt, as the race organizers had everything very well planned.

The road at the start was coned off into three lanes, one for runners (foot traffic), and one each for north- and southbound auto traffic. There was a bit of a line of cars waiting to enter the parking area, but it moved steadily, efficiently, and safely, with volunteers and police making sure everything was going smoothly. This year’s relocation of the finish activities a block north also freed up the parking lot completely, providing more parking spaces and easier access.

I had conveniently picked up my packet on Thursday at my local Foot Traffic store (I love the rotating pickup locations at the different stores), so I was ready to run, but it looked like day-of-race packet pickup was also quick and efficient. A variety of sponsors’ tents, a couple fire barrels, and large phalanx of Port-a-Potties, made the start/finish area the place to be before the races got under way. I watched the start of the half marathon, then wandered back to my car to strip down to my Rabbit running shirt and shorts (appropriate garb for an Easter race!), store my warm clothes, and get ready for the 5k.

The 5k course was already set to be different from last year’s course, a loop rather than the simple out-and-back along Marine Drive, but in another testament to the great organization of this event, they had to make a last minute adjustment and pulled it off flawlessly: Because of a hatch of rare western painted turtles, we were unable to run along the levee as planned, so the race directors diverted the course to an out-and-back along a low-traffic paved road. I wonder if anyone else was amused by a rabbit-themed race being diverted by turtles: Shades of the tortoise and the hare!

In another smart move, Race Director and Foot Traffic czar Sean Rivers held up the start of the 5k for 10 minutes to allow the half marathoners to pass through, avoiding unnecessary congestion along the course. With a relatively flat course with very few turns, the 5k lured me into going out much too fast, so the final two miles were a struggle, but it was fun to see so many runners and walkers dressed up in Easter costumes and having a great time.

I had to leave right after the race for some friends’ kids’ Easter egg hunt, so I didn’t take advantage of the great post-race brunch and mimosas complete with souvenir glass, but I did receive a large, colorful Easter egg shaped finisher’s medal, and left with a lot of appreciation for such a well-organized and hoppy… er, happy event!

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