Before the 5K began, there was a Jaguar Jog – a 1 mile run for the younger kids. This brought out a record 60 young participants. New to the 5K this year was a wave start in order to alleviate some of the congestion at the race start. Volunteers held up pace signs and participants were to line up in the corral according to their predicted pace. Waves then started about 30 seconds apart. With over 750 participants, this was a much-needed change. When the wave I was in started, it seemed that the enthusiasm of the kids sent many of them out a little faster than their predicted pace time. Running a race that has more students than adults is interesting. Some observations:
- The number of runners in untied shoes was high.
- The percentage of runners that would suddenly start walking or stop completely to wait for a friend, check their phone, or just catch their breath was also high.
- And then there was the fact that most kids do not run in a straight line. They dart, dash, run backwards, jump over cones and are just generally kids having fun. While I was amused by their behavior, I also had to run with more caution than usual to prevent collisions or potential injury.
By mile 2 many of the students begin to feel their faster than usual start. Suddenly the percentage of walkers had increased. Then the long climb begin. This took its toll on many, as well. But, once the peak had been reached and we left the trail for the street, the students knew they were almost to the finish and there was a surge of speed from them again. As I headed into the finish chute, I noticed the number of cameras lining the finish was pretty incredible. Even though many parents were participating in the race, it seemed like there were still a large amount of parents waiting to get finish photos. It was fun to see the enthusiasm everyone in this community had for this event.
Afterwards there was plenty of water and snacks available. There was even a VooDoo Doughnut vehicle there selling doughnuts. That line got quite long in a hurry. I wondered if there could possibly be enough room in that truck to hold enough doughnuts to satisfy the hungry runners.
If you haven’t been out to support Stoller Middle School, I encourage you to do so next year. It is a race with a totally different atmosphere than you are used to, but so worth it. It is a great cause and a whole lot of fun to see so many young enthusiastic runners. As a former middle school teacher, I enjoyed being in the midst of that energy again. It’s not often that you find racers so full of excitement. If you are looking for a fun change of pace or even some inspiration from young runners, you should definitely go out and run the Stoller Community 5K in 2017.