The Niles Frigid 5k was a race that I did not plan on running, until I won a free entry through one of their Facebook contest. After winning a free entry, Tina also decided to run as well. Race registration was $25 if you beat the January 1st price increase. After that, it was $30 and then $35 on race day. The Frigid 5k typically lives up to its name, very cold. This years race, not so bad. Temps were in the low 30s with about a 12mph NWN wind.
The race offers a packet pickup from 10AM until 8PM at a local bike store, which is one of the sponsors for the race. Since Niles is only 25 minutes from work, I chose to drive up to Niles on Friday over lunch to get our stuff and not deal with the lines or crowds in general on race day. Packet pickup up was quick and easy. The men at packet pickup tried to give directions on how to get to the start line, but being from out of town, it was not too clean. Mainly the advice to park by the river and walk south to the boat launch.
Saturday morning we crossed the state line into Michigan. Race started at 9:00. We arrived a little before 8:00. Earlier than we needed but that was alright. First thing that you noticed was that there was no where, besides the bike shop to go to get warm. Tina and I just stayed in the car.
One of the things I like to do before a race is check out the course a little during my warmup. When getting out of the car, I ran into my friend, Eric Diamond. He was out running already and warned me about some ice on the bike trails. The first half of the course is on a lot of gravel roads, the second half consists of bike trails. He was right. Friday was a warm day in the area with temps in the 40s. A good amount of snow melted, and unfortunitly froze on the paths over night. Somethings are just out of the race directors controls. The bad part was it was a thin sheet of ice, so Yak Traks would be of no use. Generally though, if you stayed on the edges of the bike paths, it was clearer and gave you the option of running in the grass if needed. Before the race, they announced “if it looks wet, it’s ice.” That was stating the obvious, but still a good reminder.
The race started promptly at 9:00. For me, the only plan was to stay on my feet, and not to kill myself. This was a free race for me, and a glorified workout. It was not worth getting hurt by running stupid. The race starts in the boat launch parking lot. With 477 runners/walkers, it made for a smooth start. Soon after leaving the parking lot, we got onto the gravel road. A lot of holes in the roads to dodge. I could just see one of these taking out my ankles if I wasn’t careful. I told myself before the race to take it easy on the first mile, and for once, I did just that. First mile was 6:14. Considering that my first mile is typically under 6:00, this was real slow for me. I was back in 13th place.
Right after the mile marker, we turned on the gravel road onto a paved road. We ran through a bank parking lot (probably to get as close to 3.1 as possible) and came back on the road for a short section before returning on the bike trail. Keeping to the edges turned out to be the best idea. It may not have been all clear, but if you needed, you could run on the grass. By the time we reached the bike trail, I made my way up to 10th and was closing in on 3 runners ahead of me. The second mile was completed in 6:12. Still not too fast but on my feet.
The third mile continued along the bike. It seems as if the ice was getting worse. Every time it seemed that I was gaining on those in front of me, I came to a slick spot, had to slow down and lost what I had gained. In the last mile, I was unable to pick up any more positions. The last mile was run in 6:07. Finishing time was 18:49, finishing in 10th place overall and 2nd in age division. Not a great time but stayed on my feet.
The race in general was very well run. The race started on time, with no issues. There was an aid station on the course but I didn’t take any water. Way too cold to even consider it. They also gave every runner who registered on time personalized bibs.
I also like the race shirts except it was a poly/cotton blend. If you know me, I am not a fan of that. Will I do this race again and pay for it? Probably for the lowest race entry. Probably wouldn’t pay $30-$35 though.