Yesterday, I participated in the Santa Shuffle 5km. It is a “fun run” and it is not chip-timed. This event is hosted by Running Room, and just like their Hypothermic Half and Resolution Run events, it is held in various locations all over Canada. The event is ran over at Nicholas Sheran Park, which is less than a mile from where we live, so it makes for an easily accessible event. I also registered early enough so it was just a $25 entry fee, which would include a finisher medal (a rare thing for 5km events). I opted to not purchase the t-shirt (yeah, don’t need another long sleeve cotton shirt).
I decided to tack on some extra mileage to my run that day, wanting to total 8 miles, so I went out at 9:15 am and put in 3.3 miles before the 10am start of the event. After the event, I would cool down jog what I needed in order to reach 8 miles. I made it over to the start area at 9:52. People were milling around pretty clueless by the start. They had a 5km and a 1km “Elf Walk” starting at the same time. When they called out to start in one minute, everyone around me was questioning “what the hell is the route?” Some older woman volunteer was then honestly in THE MIDDLE of the pack of people waiting to start trying to explain this half-ass planned 5km route around the lake. While she was in the middle of explaining, they started the race. Needless to say, that isn’t the best organization.
We were off….it was perfect weather for running (above freezing!) and sunny, very little wind. However, the snow we had had the previous week was just melting, and was still drifted and packed down in spots on the trail. The route would be two laps around the lake, with an additional straight-away added each time once you made it around to near the start. You would turn south and head down the path to where it reached the end of the park, then make a quick almost dead-stop turn, where you would the route again.
The first mile brought runners to this quick turn, and I had ran it in 7:07. At this point, I was actually the leader. Not the female leader, but the main leader. Yeah—it was a small race. I decided I wanted to hold this position because it’s fun to beat guys. Doing the second lap was more challenging, because you had to dodge families coming back from the out-and-back Elf Walk, plus the walkers (who usually had their dogs too) doing the 5km. My feet were feeling heavy with the snow stuck to the bottom, but I kept pushing. Mile 2 slowed to 7:19 and mile 3 even more to 7:32. I finished the event (which my GPS had at 3.18 miles) in 23:11…quite a bit slower than my 5km personal best from the Mustache Dache in November (21:08) but was still good enough for a 1st Place Finish.
I was very surprised when I received a small “gold medal” for being first place female, in addition to my participant medal. Sure, my husband made fun of it when I got home later because it is pretty tiny, but I thought that was nice and not expected since the race wasn’t officially timed. That is my huge complaint with these “Fun Run’s” and most of the events Running Room hosts nationwide—-they aren’t timed. Why? I have no clue. I am guessing that if I asked them, I’m sure they would say “Well, we want to just encourage people to come out and run without pressure of being timed.” I think it is because they are being cheap and don’t want to pay a timing company to come out and run the event. Is that harsh to say? Maybe. But it is pretty sad when the largest running store in Canada can’t even do an officially timed event.
That being said, with the lack of organization and perks to this race, I will not be registering for it again. I would recommend it for families because of the Santa theme, but for anyone else (even a beginner runner) do yourself a favor and choose a better 5km for your first event. I can give you suggestions to local races that have better experiences than this for a 5km. And hint—none are put on by Running Room.
And with that crabby post, Happy Sunday!