We signed up for this race after seeing a flier for it in our race packet during the Aquarium of the Pacific 5k. It was a local race, just 5 minutes away from home, and the money benefited Danny’s Farm which is a great cause. I was a bit hesitant to give the race organizers another shot after the poor management of the Aquarium of the Pacific but the cost was low enough, $30. I also managed to talk Hugo and Janeth into joining us.
This time around the parking situation was better managed, though we got there early, and the bib pick up took no more than 5 minutes. We stood around for a bit and I went into my pre-race routine of stretching/pacing. Thanks to Runner’s World and random handouts from running stores, I actually knew what I needed to do to get ready. The start was also a lot better organized. Just one vital part was missing… the course map.
I checked out the website daily to see if the map was available. Even to this day the website still says “Coming Soon”. A few minutes before the start, someone drew the “map” on a white-board. Just looked like a giant U to me. We had tried to get a preview of the course the week before but it seemed like the course would be a turn-around and not a loop. The call for the starting line didn’t take as long this time around but I made sure to get as close as I could to avoid having to dodge the walkers.
After a brief Aztec ceremony, the company is named Aztlan Athletics, we were off!
The picture above made it seem like a nice start but as you can tell by the kid in the green shirt, things got hectic fast. You see, when you mix such a large group of runners and very loose dirt you will get a nasty dust cloud. By the time I reached the first curve all I could see was a giant dust trail in front of me. I quickened my pace more than I wanted to just to try get ahead of the dust cloud. The first hill provided enough of a gap for me and I charged ahead. Looking back at the main pack, I knew Meghann, Hugo and Janeth were probably covered in dust… poor bastards.
The route we took wasn’t very scenic nor easy to navigate with such a large crowd. A wave start would have helped ease the traffic. Screwed again by this damn race organizer. I made a mental note to avoid any runs organized by Aztlan Athletics.
Once I got to the dam it was smooth sailing. The route still was lined by teenage volunteers, who somehow were even less enthusiastic than the previous race but the trail was well marked and there was actually a water station and marker at mile 1. Things were starting to brighten up. I still found it odd that their official mile maker was about a quarter mile behind my Endomondo app. I wrote it off as my phone having GPS problems.
I found someone to keep pace with and fell into a nice pace. Again, it wasn’t much of a view. Other than the signature dam in the beginning and JPL at the turn around, it was mainly dust and a dry lake-bed…. oh and a lot of horse crap on the trail. By the time I reached the turn around, I was covered in dust from head to toe. It was a bright and sunny morning so the sweat was starting to turn the dust into a nice paste. Bleh.
I reached the Mile 1 marker on the turn around, guess one marker is better than none, and noticed my playlist had reached the final song. I had set up a playlist to try to keep tempo with… I still had the dam an an entire mile to go… so while Van Halen was telling me I was running with the devil (what? I thought it was fitting!) I was actually about a mile away. So that song ended and it went to a random song in my library…. it landed on Black Eyed Peas “Shut Up”. Fuck you music app! I couldn’t get the damn thing to skip so I just went with it.
When I was coming up to the final bend I noticed this hipster (American headband dude in picture above) kept passing me on the hills. I was unsure of my time or really how far away I was so I just kept an even pace. To be honest, I was feeling quite tired due to the uneven terrain. The treadmill had helped with flat courses but just a few hills and the initial charge to get away from the pack had drained me.
I finally saw the finish line and two women in front of me began to push and shove each other to get to the finish. No they weren’t friends. I decided to just hang back and let them duke it out. Then out of nowhere comes the hipster charging ahead to pass me at the last minute. The refs were pointing to him and telling me to stand in line behind him. I was a bit confused as to what was going on. I was just happy to get a chance to drink some water and wipe off the dirt.
I looked at my app and the final time was around 32 minutes… 6.16km! Somewhere along the course the race directors had added a mile. Others around me were also pissed off about their times and checked their apps to confirm it was longer than a 5k. I grabbed some water and food while I waited for the race results and for Meghann to come in. Hugo and Janeth had decided to walk the course so I wasn’t expecting to see them just yet.
Again I stood right next to the cat mascot and got him to cheer Meghann in…. and again she didn’t notice us. I noticed she was having a tough time breathing and asked her if she was ok. Turned out all that dust had caused her to have a minor asthma problem. Despite that she finished at 48 minutes. She was pissed off about the time until I told her that it was actually a 6.16km run. That evened out our paces to 8 min 34 sec for me and 12 min 32 sec for her. I was quite proud of her since she kept about the same pace from the last race despite all of the set backs.
We looked at our results… I came in fourth in my class! That’s why they were so adamant that the hipster had come in right before me. I missed out on a medal due to me giving up at the last stretch. Bah!
We stuck around long enough to see Hugo and Janeth finish up. It so far is the worst race I’ve been to. I really hope Danny’s Farm got a good chunk of money from it as they are a great cause. However, if they don’t switch organizers for next year I highly doubt we will be back. It’s safe to say we are done with Aztlan Athletics.