I have had some good races lately, this was not one of them. The 34th annual Parade 5000 at the Elkhart County Fair in Goshen, IN is a race that I will try to forget about quickly.
As usual, the race begins in Downtown Goshen and follows the Parade Route (race begins right before the parade). With a 1:20 scheduled start, temps were soaring into the mid 80s. I don’t run in heat very well, but everyone had to deal with it, so it was time to suck it up!
As has become typical of this race, due to traffic logistics, started late by 10-15 minutes. This came back to bite everybody later on. The race started, and as is typical in this race, with large crowds watching, a lot of the younger runners took off. The key is not to get caught up in it because they will come back. Also the start is a little bit of an uphill. As we made the first turn, I started counting what place I was in. At the time I was in 17th place, which I was fine with. After the turn, I started passing a couple of runners and was moving up. Right before the mile mark, the course crosses the first of two railroad crossings. And wouldn’t you know it, right before I got there, the red lights started flashing signaling a train was coming and I heard the horn. This railroad crossing did not have the crossing arms, so I looked down the tracks, saw a very slow moving train and proceeded to cross. I am not sure how many got stopped by the train but it forced me to speed up. First mile completed in 5:39. Faster than what I wanted, but was feeling ok.
As the course continued on east towards the fair grounds, I am still picking up positions. After running by Goshen High School, you make a slight left hand turn. After this turn, I hear the worst sound you can imagine at this race, a train horn (my son would love this, but I was not thrilled at this point). I think all the top runner, especially those who have run this race before, know that this is a real possibility. More on that later. As I approached the tracks, which the train was already there, it became obvious, that no one made it through the crossing. I waited at the crossing for probably 1:30-1:40. It was a very slow moving train. I think all of us knew, this has now become a little over a mile sprint to the finish.
I am not the type of runner who carries his phone with him, especially during a race. But this weekend I was on call for work and was required to be available in case of an emergency. So I sent my wife this picture and explained what had happened. Why do I bring up my phone? Glad you asked.
My wife has been using the Nathan’s SonicMount that I got her for Christmas. It is great for those who do run with their phones.
Back to the run. Once the train crosses, the arms go up, and the race is back on. Right as the arms go up, they come back down. Another train. No one was waiting around, we were off. As we approach the two mile mark, I felt something fall down my leg and hear it hit the road. My cell phone. When I got my phone out to take that stupid picture, I am sure it got wet with sweat and just slipped out. Went back a couple steps, picked it up, started running again and clipped it back on. Second mile 5:57. Surprisingly under 18:00 is still possible (I did stop my watch at the train).
About a quarter mile later, the phone comes off again. Had to stop, pick it up, and go again. This time just decided to carry in my hand. As we approached the horse track, which we had to complete 1 lap (half a mile) on, I saw my mom and daughters standing there so I just decided to throw them my phone.
At this point, I was done. The heat, the train, dropping my phone twice, I honestly did not care any more. I just wanted to finish and be done with it, this was not my day. And quiet honestly, I stopped trying. I just ran my lap around the track and finished in 19th place overall. Last mile was 6:28 (that tells you how bad it got and how much I didn’t care). I will just call this a workout. Finishing time was 18:46. Chip time had me at 20:14. Amazingly enough, that was still good enough for second place in my age division.
Like I said, the last mile was set up as a sprint to the finish and I am not a short distance racer and I knew that was not a good thing. The phone issues just added insult to injury. The trains though are a continuing problem for this race. I believe it’s been a couple years since a train has interrupted the Parade 5000, but did they do so in a big way this year. This was not the first time that I was stopped by one at this race. The fair has tried working with the train companies to keep the tracks clear, but they don’t seem to care and won’t change their schedules.
The fair also offered a 1 mile and half mile fun run for kids. Those who finished received medals and tshirts.
We also had one upset little boy because he was not old enough to run. Next year buddy.
So the Pros and Cons to this race
A lot of good competition
You have the option of taking a bus from the fair grounds to the starting line or you can do your warm up and run a little over 2 miles to the start
Shirts were better this year, still want tech.
Age groups were every 5 years,trophies for awards.
1:20 start. The race is at the mercy of the county fair and when they have the parade and they have no interest in moving it to the morning, probably because of it being on a Sunday and not wanting to interfere with church. But why not Saturday morning?
Trains. While not many were very upset, it was obviously frustrating. People have said they need to change the course. Once again though, the race is at the mercy of the fair and the parade itself. And honestly, I am not sure how you could have the race/parade avoid the railroad tracks.
Awards ceremony. Once again, they didn’t announce them in order, instead jumped around to different age groups. I just want my award so I can leave. It was hot and Derek was having a meltdown.