It has been years since the small town that I grew up in, Wakarusa, IN, had a 5k race during the towns Maple Syrup festival. Over the past few years, I had posted on the towns Facebook page as well as the festivals, that they needed to bring a road race back to the Fesrival. Now I am not taking any credit for the race finally coming back, but as soon as I heard it was, I knew I would be there.With it being the first year back, it was a smaller race, around 95-100 registered for this years event. A small race was perfect for the family though. We have been considering having our two daughters, Emma (9), and Chloe (8) try another 5k. This would be Chloe’s 3rd 5k race and Emma’s 2nd. The race setting was perfect for them. Small enough that they won’t get run over but still not running alone. It was worked out that my dad would be out there with them as well. Well, Chloe decided that she wanted to run it alone even though Tina said she would run with her as well. Remember, small town, people on the course volunteering, and my dad wasn’t too far away, so we let her try it alone.
We arrived at Memorial Park in Wakarusa at around 7:00. Plenty of parking as the elementary school in town is right by the park. Packet pickup was quick and simple. Got our numbers, tshirts, and bag of coupons and fliers and we were done.
I left for a little bit to do my warmup, which was very important since I ran the Carmel Marathon a week earlier. Obviously I was not 100% back yet. Since this was a small race, there really wasn’t much pressure, except, this is where I grew up and I wanted to win. Plus, there was a large jar of maple syrup in the line. Who doesn’t want to win that? The temps at the start could not have been any better. What I would have done to have these conditions a week earlier. The wind was a little stronger than last weekend but I would take it for a marathon. Temps were in the mid 40s.
After a few words from race director Paul Kern, the race started with a simple countdown and on the word “go” we were off. Two runners in particular started very fast. That was something I had no interest in doing. Local runner, Jason Potsander was right infront of me. Jason and I had talked before the race. He had a tough week in training so he was not 100% either. As we started, I told Jason there was no way they will continue the pace. Sure enough, one young kid dropped back real quick. Lead runner still had a lead on us, but I was in no hurry to catch him right away.Right before the first mile, there was a wide turn around point. As we were coming back, I saw Tina, then Emma running with my dad, and then Chloe. Chloe was at about the half mile mark and was walking. This wasn’t good. I tried cheering her on some as I ran past (I know, a good dad would stop to run with her but she really wanted to do it alone). Ran the first mile in 5:53, still a little faster than i wanted to go out in but not too fast. I basically focused on running right off of Jason’s shoulder. The leader was about 10-20 meters infront of us.
As we approached the 2 mile mark, we turned into a new neighborhood for another short out and back. At this point, any time I tried to pass Jason, he responded with a little surge. We entered the walking path that goes around Monument Park. We were starting to catch the leader as his lead shrunk to less than 10 meters. I felt confident that we would pass. The last question then was who was going to come in first. Mile 2 was run in 5:54. Only a second off the first mile. A very good sign. As we reached the back side of the park, we exited the park for one last out and back. As we were running out, we were running into the wind a little. If I was going to make a move, it needed to wait until we turned. The road made a right hand turn heading south and into a parking lot where the turn around was. This turn around was a large loop in the parking lot. This is where I made my move. As we approached the loop, Jason and I cought the leaders. At this time, I didn’t want to just catch them, I wanted to pass and hold it. I remembered back to my cross county days when we were taught to surge into the turn and continue 10-20 after the turn. As we went through the turn around loop, I put my serge on to see who would come with me, and it didn’t seem like either guy was going to. Now it was time to hold on.
We arrived back to the back side of Memorial Park where we continued around the walking path to the finish. Mile 3 was run in 5:51. Rarely is my fastest mile the last mile on a 5k so I got a little pumped about it. But, I couldn’t stop there. I didn’t know how far back the guys were behind me so I out on a finishing kick for the last .1 mile. Crossed the finishline in 18:15. Not a bad time at all considering it was a week since my marathon. After finishing, I backtracked the course as I usually do to find family members. Usually it’s Tina, but obviously with the girls running, I would have to go further back. I first came along Tina, she told me that Chloe was still far behind and that I needed to go find her. Tina was looking strong at this time. By the time I found Chloe, she was pouting a little, complaining that her stomach was hurting. We decided to do a little run walk. I told her that if she got top 3 in her age division, she would get a bottle of syrup.
Apparently, the motivation worked for her as she finished in around 43:00 . Not her fastest time by far but we really have not been running much with the girls lately. As we get nicer weather, we will do that more. Tina just about hit her goal time that she wants to hit this year. She wants to run a 5k under 30:00. On Saturday, she ran a 30:09. A new PR for her. Emma also had a PR, which really wasn’t hard for her to do since it was in March of 2014 that she last ran a 5k. She finished in 32:43. I am tempted to say no more 1 mile fun runs for her, but we will see. So to round out the results, Tina was 3rd in her division, Emma was first and Chloe was second in their division. We have a lot of maple syrup to use at home now.
The event was very well run. Paul did a great job of creating a course with what he had to work with since most of the main town roads were not accessible to use due to the ongoing festival. There was also plenty of volunteers on the course to make sure people were going the right way and the course was well marked with chalk arrows.
About the only things that were missing was there was no chip timing, but there are plans to add that in 2017, and no mile markers on the course.
Special thanks to Ashley Berger for the pictures you took before and during the race.