Race day was Saturday, October 29. It was cool enough in the morning that I decided to wear a longsleeve tech shirt, although I stuck with shorts and no baselayer. I pondered whether to add a light rain jacket, but it looked like it was only drizzling.
Once I arrived at the Reserve, I was directed into an auxiliary parking lot. That’s a measure of how popular this race has become – I’ve run a lot of races here, and I’ve always found parking in the main lot. No biggie, though, as the auxiliary lot was just on the other side of the main lot. I parked and jogged* over to the packet pickup/post-race food sheltered area and found no line at all. (That’s probably because there was a long line for the porta-potties….)
* I’m a runner, not a jogger, but I think of what I do as jogging when it’s not for training or racing purposes.
The kids’ races were going on when I headed over to the starting area. Race director Darwin Rasmussen and Uberthons Ambassador Margo Glass were working the crowd in tag-team fashion, almost like comics warming up the live audience of a taping of a sitcom.
As the 1 mile participants started returning to the start/finish line, those of us waiting for the 5K, 10K, and 15K races clapped enthusiastically for them. First place went to 9 year old Xavier Durham, who finished in 7:36. All 14 kids did a great job, but possibly the most impressive finish was the 10:49 mile turned in by 2 year old Jaxon Last. (In case you are wondering, the order of events was inverted for this race; usually, the kids’ races follow the 5K et al.)
Darwin tried to organize us according to his usual rule of the “fast” people in front and the “good looking” people in back. He stood near the start, pointed to the ground, and said that if anyone were going to challenge the world record, he wanted them right there. No one moved forward. So Darwin set his sights a little lower and said if anyone were going to run a 15 minute 5K, he wanted them right there. No one moved forward. So instead, Darwin called attention to 8 year old J.J. Herrera, who I believe holds the age group record for the half marathon. J.J. got to lead off, and then we got the go ahead from Darwin to start. My Garmin recorded my start time as 9:07 a.m., and I was near the front.
It’s too bad I started near the front, because I missed Margo Glass’s start, which I learned later from talking to her afterward. She was still announcing as the early runners started, but when it was time for her to go (in the 5K), she dropped the mike and took off!
Meanwhile, I found myself catching up to Ross Crowley in the lead. I knew that he was running the 10K, not the 5K, and I thought I would push myself to try to stay close to him for as long as I could. Around that time, the eventual 5K winner (Natalie Smith) caught up and passed me.
My plan to stick with Ross lasted for maybe a mile before I had to dial it back. I clocked the first mile in 6:17, but spent most of the next two miles around 6:45-7:00 before a disastrous last half mile or so.
The course conditions were pretty decent for a fast run. It started off cool, but once we started running, it felt perfectly mild. The path was mostly dry with a few puddles of muddy water that weren’t hard to avoid or step over. There are a number of sharp turnarounds on this course, and it takes you deceptively far from the main clubhouse area, but it’s also a scenic route with just enough elevation change to keep things interesting.
Past mile 2, I could tell that no one behind me was gaining ground on me, and I definitely wasn’t catching up to the two runners (Ross and Natalie) ahead of me. I don’t run for medals, not exactly, but in the moment, I found myself thinking that all I had to do was hold on and the first place male finisher medal would be mine….! (I actually did finish as the fastest male during one of the earlier Halloweenathons, but there were no top finisher medals in those days.)
I didn’t finish with a PR, but I did finish with my fastest 5K time of the year, and pretty close to my “reach” goal for the race of getting under 21 minutes. I just need to cut corners even more aggressively, or not fade so much in the last half mile…. And I did finish first among the male participants!
After crossing the finish line, I received a finisher’s medal and a bottle of water. I bent over to recover my breath and not long after, the next finisher, Peter Rhodes, crossed the line. As more 5K runners finished their races, I debated whether I wanted to go back on the course to complete the fun stations (as I had last year). It took me just over half an hour to work up the determination to head back out.
The Fun Station Run
It’s really just a 10K, but running a 5K after you’ve already run – and finished – a 5K is totally different from a mental standpoint. Fortunately, the fun stations ended up being in-run rest periods. The pace plot of my second 5K looks like a bunch of plateaus with sharp cliffs (where my pace went to 0). In fact, it looks like I was gunning it in between stations, mostly under 8:00 (and several segments under 7:00).
Station 1: Pull a spider out of a sack
Fortunately these were not real spiders! Let’s see what I pulled out:
Station 2: Toss a Halloweenathon ring
You know that carnival game at Oaks Amusement Park where you have to toss rings on bottles? (I think Oaks has that game, but anyway, it’s a common carnival game.) That’s what this station was, except instead of tossing a small ring on a narrow bottle, here I was given hoops to throw at pumpkins.
I’m pretty bad at the carnival game, and I wasn’t much better at this one. It took me four tries before I succeeded – here’s proof:
Station 3: Count the pumpkins
It may seem like it’s an easy task to count up pumpkins, but after running (especially after running a hard 5K already), it’s harder than it seems. I think contestants on “Survivor” have said that the food shortage, tough conditions, sleep deprivation, and paranoia make it harder to compete in the challenges than viewers realize. I have sympathy for them.
By the way, there were 36 pumpkins.
Station 4: Guess how many jelly beans
I was going to guess somewhere in the 200s, but I’m always way short on these, so I doubled my initial guess, and then, seeing my bib number – 443 – decided to go with that. The correct answer was over 1000….
Station 5: Put your hand in a bowl of worms!
Yea, another creepy rubber toy to add to my collection….
Station 6: Toss an eyeball into a pumpkin bucket
Another challenge that I turned out to be not very good at. The volunteer commiserated. “It’s my station, and I’m not very good at it either,” she said.
Station 7: Throw a beanbag
Because I had started the fun stations nearly an hour after everyone else, there hadn’t been any wait at any of the first six fun stations. When I got to this station, there was a toddler with her dad. Dad was trying to get her to drop a beanbag into one of the holes by tossing his beanbag as an example. However, the toddler kept retrieving Dad’s beanbag and bringing it back to him! Boy, I wish I could get my kids to do that….
Anyway, it was all fine. The sun had come out, the skies were blue, and I was enjoying the break. After a minute, it was my turn. I grabbed four beanbags (as my experience with the other throwing challenges suggested that I would need several tries) and made it on my first try.
Station 8: Trick or treat
The only difficulty with this challenge was figuring out which kind of candy to take…. And with that, it was just an easy 0.1 or so miles to the end (again).
The fun stations seemed to run faster than last year’s when I caught up to a crowd around station #4. The stations that were taken out were definite time sinks (golf putt, donut eating), and this year, the dexterity based ones were basically “try your best.” I went ahead and completed them because no one was waiting, but I would’ve felt bad holding up the line if there had been one.
The thing to keep in mind is that the 5K with fun stations is not an obstacle course like the Spartan Race or Rugged Maniacs. As I mentioned, it was kind of like eight short breaks during the 5K. Surprisingly, only 77 people signed up for the fun station 5K, compared to 246 for the regular 5K. (85 people ran the 10K, and 38 ran the 15K, along with one 15K relay team.)
I’ve run every Halloweenathon so far, and it’s probably my favorite racing event. It’s got the highest percentage of runners in costumes, it’s full of the holiday theme, and it offers the interesting fun station option. It also takes place at a time of the year when the weather is still mostly favorable for racing. I used to miss the evening race option, but now I’ve come to see that I used to miss a lot of the festiveness when I showed up for just that evening race when most of the action took place earlier in the day.
Results: For full results of the 1 mile kids’ race, 5K, 10K, and 15K, click here.
Photos: For photos taken of runners in front of the Halloweenathon background, click here.
Disclosure: I’m a 2016 Uberthons Ambassador and I received a comp entry to this race.