The Second annual Wakarusa Maple syrup Festival 5K was held on April 29, 2017. The temperatures were cool and in the low 50s with when coming out of the north west. There were also threats of rain in the area. However we never saw the rain and it turned out to be a great morning for a race.
The race director is a good friend of mine named Paul Kern. Paul has been running for years and wanted to bring a race back to Wakarusa. I will call nothing less than impressive that Paul was able to get the 2017 race done. On March 17, on his way home from my running festival in Mishawaka, Paul was rear-ended and spent several days in the hospital. As a result of this accident Paul had several seizures. Not only was he able to continue as the race director for the 2017 race, he was also able to complete the Caramel Marathon on April 22.Paul at the Runnjnv Festivsl prior to his accident.
For the 2017 race there are two options for picking up your race packet. You could pick it up downtown on Friday or you could pick it up race morning at the starting line. We decided that we would put ours up on Friday since we are going to enjoy the festival anyways. Inside the packet was your race shirt, your bib, sponsor information, and a couple race flyers
The Maple Syrup Festival 5k starts in a park behind Wakarusa elementary school. It is a simple course that starts going out for about three quarters of a mile and then comes back before doing a small loop in a park to finish. My race plan was simple. With a marathon the next day my goal was to just run marathon pace for the 5K. So defending my 2016 title was out of the question. However there are other fast guys there this year and so I wasn’t going to win anyways.
The race started at 8 o’clock in the morning, which was nice for Tina and I because we had a 4 to 5 Hour Dr. to Canton, Ohio following the race. Many runners start showing up shortly after 7 o’clock. At around 745 Paul made announcements explaining the course, thanking the sponsors, and a pastor gave a prayer. Right at 8 o’clock the race started.
With this being my hometown race, I knew a lot of runners who were there. Some were from Motown others were just from the running community. My coach Jacob Gillett was aiming for the win. While others such as my friend Todd Hoffer we’re just looking for a great race. I ran the 1st mile with Todd and we talked a little bit about strategy and my goals for the next day. Quickly I realize my pace was going little faster than I wanted to. We ran the 1st mile in 6:37. My goal pace was somewhere around 6:50. I told Todd that I was gonna back off and let him go. My 2nd mile was closer to my liking and done in 6:44. My third mile was in 6:45. I finished in a time of 21:00.
The course was pretty much the same as it was in 2016 with a few minor changes.I think Paul would agree with me, but I would like to see this race run more into downtown today the town of Wakarusa just has not let this happen. The number of participants did grow this year so maybe if that continues to grow maybe will allow for a change to be made.
As far as awards go you really can’t beat the awards that the Maple Syrup Festival offers. The top three overall male and female receive a large bottle of maple syrup. The top three in each age division receives a small bottle of maple syrup.
The 2018 race will be held on April 28th. Next year, we will only have to go about 2 miles to get to the start as we will have moved to Wakarusa by then. So it will be either a 2 mile warm up to get there or a 2 mile bike ride. Looking forward to it.