Race Review: Flotilla 8 Mile and 3.3 Mile Road Race

There are certain United State Holidays that are known for running and races all over the country.  Number one is Thanksgiving, number 2 has to be between Memorial Day and 4th of July.  I would give the edge to 4th of July.  In the area I live in alone, there array least 3 races tied in with the 4th of July that I can think of.  

This year, the family decided to head to Syracuse, IN for the Flotilla Road Race.  At least in this area, it offers some odd distances in races, a 3.3 mile and 8 mile race. So if you are looking for something different, then maybe this is an event for you.  

I don’t usually get into picking my race day attire based on a theme, but this is the 4th of July (celebrating the birth of the greatest nation on earth!), so I had to go with the Stars and Stripes Pro Compression socks, as well as Stars and Stripes Buff and red singlet.  

We arrived at Syracuse shortly before 7:00AM for an 8:00Am scheduled start (more on that in a little bit). When we arrived, we went straight to check in to get out shirt, race number, and chip.  Nothing else was given such as flyers or other sponsor stuff.  Check in seemed real slow and a little disorganized.  They became more evident the hour before the race as the line became 20-30 people long  and stayed that way right up until 8:00. 

I got my 1 mile warm up in at about 7:30. The idea was just get lose.  I was feeling very relaxed.  As 8:00 approached all runners and walkers made their way to the start in anticipation of an 8:00start.  As 8:00 came and went, it was obvious we would be starting a little late as people were still registering.  After a little bit, we noticed that there was no longer a line.  Then we learned that they still needed to add names in the computer.  And do we waited, and waited, and waited.

During this time, I would typically become worked up and become a mental mess, which would probably destroy my race typically.  For whatever reason, I kept my cool.  I did a few stride outs, went back to the back of the pack to check with Tina who was running the 3.3 mile race with Chloe, and getting a drink from my coach Jake Gellete (thank you Laura Gellete for sharing, I promise my mouth did not touch the bottle. Haha).  The walkers in the race decided not to wait and took off before the official start. One runner stated that if the race didn’t start by 8:35, he was going to go ahead and start.  He challenged us to do the same.  He took off at 8:35, but no other runners went with us.  I believe he called us chickens, but I wanted an official time. 

Anyways, at 8:42 the race finally started.  It was a cool morning with a nice breeze so the weather was perfect.  He strategy for the race was to go out a little easy on the first 3 miles as they are filled with hills.  I was aiming for 6:15-6:20 miles early on.  

The first mile was run in 6:19, followed by another 6:19 and then 6:17.  As we finished the first loop and ran by the start/finish line, I yelled at my coach that pace was feeling good and that I was right between 6:15-6:20 as planned.  All he said, was that there were 2 guys I could catch ahead of me.  

Mile 4 was really the first mile that was flat and the speed picked up because of it.  I was also trying to close the gap on the runners ahead of me.  Mile 4 split was a 6:09.  Mile 5 was slower but I still cought the first of two close runners ahead of me and ran it in 6:20.  Mile 6 was my slowest as I was still catching up to the other runner ahead of me.  Mile 6 was in 6:23.  During the 7th mile, I finally cought the next runner, running at a 6:18.  As I started mile 8, I wanted to break the competitions spirit and threw in a good surge.  It ended up being enough as I ran the last mile at a 6:06 pace (my fastest of the race).  I crossed the finishline at 49:46.  

After the race, I noticed Tina and Chlie were not there.  Their goal was to finish before I did.  The 42 minute delay was too much for Chloe and all of the standing (and spinning around) waiting for the start wore her out and she didn’t want to run at all.  Plus with the hills, it’s a tough course for kids. 

Review of the race in general

Let’s start with some positives: 

  • I like the course.  It is a challenge but can be run fast as well
  • Good competition
  • The races are odd distances (at least in this area) which makes it unique.  
  • Start finish line was by the local park which was key due to some of the things that needed to be improved… 

What needs to be worked on

  • For this being the 39th annual race, the 42 minute delay was really surprising.  Something will need to be done about that to avoid it in the future. 
  • The 3.3 mile race was the only distance that was chipped times.  The 8 mile race ended up finishing before reaching the timing mats even though 8 mile runners were given timing chips. I did ask the timer why the 8 mile was not chipped time and I was informed that their system could not handle two different race distances.  This was the first time I have heard of this being a problem. I would say if you are going to have chip timing, get a company that can do both distance. That leads to the next issue…
  • Unfortunitly, the start was not the only thing delayed. The awards for the 8 mile race were delayed as well. Since the 3.3 mile race was chipped timed, the results were quick.  But it took a long time to get the 8 mile results completed.  For a race that was scheduled to start at 8:00, we didn’t leave until around 11:30. Luckily we didn’t have anything else going on in the afternoon. 

Awards for the race were long sleeve tshirts for age group champions, and drawstring bags for 2nd and 3rd in division.  I ended up winning the 30-34 age division and 7th overall. 

After the race, there was also oranges, apples and bananas to eat.  There was also bottled water.  Registration fee was $20 early and $25 the day of. 

As far as future participation in this event, I like the event, I was really looking forward to it, but obviously the delays need to be worked on.  I am sure this will be a priority.

I admit, I got frustrated with the delays.  I was probably more frustrated as a father of younger kids who were becoming more impatient.  If I would have written this review on Monday, this post would have probably looked different than it does now. But over the past couple days, I have been able to sit back and evaluate what happened.  As a race director myself, I know things can go wrong, and when they do, it seems it’s just one thing after another. All you can do is take note and improve for next year. 

With the Sarah Strong Run in 2015, we had our issues and we had a lower turn out in 2016 because of it.  This might be what happens to the Flotilla Road Race in 2017 and it might take a year or two to get everyone coming back.  Time will tell.  I hope it improves in the future and would love to come back and run it again when it is.  Race Director, Brian Shepherd has been directing races for years and I anticipate that he will evaluate how things went and strive to make improvements.   

So I guess I would leave it at this, if you were at the Flotilla race this year, don’t give up on it yet.  Let’s see what happens in the next year or two.  

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