July races can get really hot, but this July 4th offered perfect weather for Run with Paula’s Independence Day 5k and 10k at Champoeg State Park near St Paul. The temperature was still below 60*F when around 320 participants and many spectators gathered by the Riverside picnic shelter at the west end of the park for the 8am start of the race. Music was playing, and runners were warming up. Packet pickup was set up under the shelter, and it looked like there was no line to speak of.
Since there was still plenty of time before the start, and it was starting to warm up slightly, I decided to drop off my long sleeves at the car and also take advantage of the park’s bathrooms with running water, which were available near the parking lot in addition to the porta-potties right by the start/finish line. About 15 minutes before start time, we were lead through a quick stretch and warmup, and then encouraged to line up by the start. There were tables with water and electrolyte drinks available near the start too. We sang the National Anthem, and the race started at the sound of an air horn.
The course was beautiful! I had run races at Champoeg Park before, where the roads, paths, and trails offer much variety, and the tall trees give you good amounts of shade. In the starting corral, participants had self-seeded themselves pretty well for their anticipated running speed, and thanks to the wide paths at the beginning, I did not notice any trouble of congestion or jostling to find your place in the group. The first mile was very flat on the paved road with lots of space to move around and adjust positions. After passing the Oak Grove Day Use Area, we were directed to the right side of the road by some very helpful volunteers (who did an excellent job managing the cars that wanted to cross the runners’ path). We then passed the entrance to the campground and veered left onto the bike path.
A water station was set up at the fork in the road in a way that runners in either direction could easily access the water and Glukos without causing a traffic snarl. I skipped the water on my first pass, and just a little bit down the path I reached the well marked 5k turnaround point. (The 10k runners would follow the rolling, shaded path for another 1.55 miles to their turnaround.) The way back was almost as easy as the way out. The path was shaded for a long stretch until past the 2 mile mark. Mile 3 was getting hot, but with the end in sight I powered through and finished strong. A volunteer handed me my medal, and I took some of the readily available water.
Post-race music was playing; there were PB&J sandwiches, bananas and oranges, water and lemonade. Rogue Farms was cooking hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and veggie burgers, and the beer truck was setting up as well. Race registration included one burger and one drink, and I chose Fruit Salad Cider along with my cheeseburger. The awards ceremony for the 5k started around 9:30 and also included raffle prizes for all attendees.
Overall it was a very well organized run on a beautiful course. Results can be found here.