I believe this is the 5th year in a row that I have ran the Parade 5000. It is a 5k run that starts in downtown Goshen, IN and makes its way to the Elkhart County fair grounds. It occours on the Sunday morning of the Elkhart County fair before the actual parade starts at around 1:20 in the afternoon which can run into a lot of heat issues.
Finding out about the race isn’t easy and you pretty much have to be a local to know anything about it. The county fair, who puts the race on, does not do the best at getting the word out and I have been saying that for a few years. They have a 500 runner maximum in this race with no walkers allowed. This year, there was only 226 finishers. All registration is done online and I believe the fee was about $20 or $25. For that you do get a tech t-shirt. There is no race day registration and online registration ends the night before.
You are encouraged to arrive at the fair grounds for packet pick in which is held 11:00am-12:30pm. You will then have the option of running to the start line, roughly 2 miles away or take a bus provided by the race for runners. While waiting for the bus, bottle water is provided for the runners. Once you arrive at Rogers Park, where the race starts from, there are coolers of water as well as some Gatorade.
Parade 5000 has had issues with bandits (people who run the race without paying) running the race. In 2018, I saw a few people being taken out of the starting area with old race bibs on. This year, I did not see anyone being removed. I don’t think it was a lack of people looking for bandits, rather I think fewer people were trying after they cracked down on it last year. I didn’t see anyone with an old bib on this year.
The race did start a few minutes late. With the county fair being as large as it is, police have to work hard to clear the roads in time for the race to start and that is very difficult to do, so the race usually starts a little late. Not to mention the race does cross 2 rail road tracks so making sure there are no trains coming is essential as well. This year, there were no trains that interfered with the race.
Temps were warm as the sun came out right before the race started and it was in the 80s. Once you get started, it is a slight uphill at the start that you may not notice, but it is there. The rest of the race is basically flat and paved until the 2 mile mark. After the 2nd mile, you turn on a dirt road which takes you to the horse track around the back of the fair grounds and then you run 1 1/4 laps around the horse track to finish it up. The last mile is always tough with it being a dirt road followed up with a dirt horse track. Traction is hard to come by.
After the race, you can grab a bottle of water and a cold rag to cool off. There is absolutely no food for runners after the race. Water and some lemon aid is the best you are going to do. I actually missed awards as I was out at the fair grounds finding food to eat since the race starts at 1:20 and I didn’t eat lunch first. But I did get there as awards were wrapping up. I have heard others complain that the awards are bad, and they are right. Its a small generic medal with a custom cheap ribbon. But at least runner get a tech shirt (all be it, a weird looking shirt).
We will see if I run this race next year. Probably will since we will probably be there anyways. Its not my favorite race, but it is a race none the less.