Wednesday, January 6, 2016

MCRRC New Year's Day 5k

This is the third year in a row I've done the Montgomery County Road Runner's Club New Year's Day 5k.  I feel like it's a wonderful way to start out the new year, and let's be honest, a good incentive to not party too hard on New Year's Eve!  I reviewed the 2015 race and the 2014 race if you're interested in those.

The big difference this year is that the location of the race moved. It was previously at Seneca Creek State Park, which is a beautiful location. This year, it started at Manna Food Center, a local food bank.  This was great because we could have registration and the food inside to stay warm a bit.  We could also drop of canned food donations, which was nice.  There was also plenty of parking in the vicinity and it was easy to get in and out.

But the big downside was the course. It was nowhere near as scenic as the park where the race had been held in the previous years.  The roads were closed but it was mostly just running in kind of an industrial area.  Also, it had one really big hill (a bridge over the highway) that was unpleasant.  The park was also hilly but it was more rolling hills and not one giant hill.

In addition, in order to get to 5k we had to do the course twice.  I felt like this wasn't communicated clearly and it led to some course congestion.  Around the time I was at mile 1.5, the leaders were coming back through.  Those of us slower runners didn't really know that the course was a double loop so were of course taking up the whole width of the course.  I heard people yelling "runners back" but didn't really understand at first.  I mean, of course there were runners behind us, it's a race.  But then someone zoomed by and I realized they meant there were really fast runners back.  A couple more people zoomed by and I realized that these were the leaders and that meant we would have to be doing the whole course again.  This was particularly disheartening as I had just finished with the giant hill and knew this meant I would have to do the hill again.  

Once we realized what was going on, we all tried to move over to one side so it would be easier for the faster people to go by.  It had to have been really frustrating for them to have to essentially pass all the slower runners and try to weave through us.

Other than the course, my race experience was ok.  I felt like I was appropriately dressed for the weather and didn't have breathing problems again.  I tried to make sure to start a bit slow so I could ease my breathing into the cold air and I feel like that helped.  I struggled a bit with the hill and this was no where close to a PR, but I was able to push at the end.

So the pros were the indoor gathering area, the food donation, the plentiful parking and easy access. Of course, the fact that it was free for members and had free photos is a pro for all of the MCRRC low key races.

The cons were the lack of scenery, the big hill (twice) and having to run the course twice leading to more congestion.  I hope they move it back to the park next year and that this was a temporary change.  If it's in this same area next year, I might be tempted to look into one of the other New Year's Day races in the area.