Sunday, June 06, 2010

Vista Strawberry Festival 5K

Ran a 5K race last week. This was at the Vista Strawberry Festival. Apparently this was the first time they were holding this race in 15 years. If I were to rate it, I'd give it 4.5/5. Pretty much everything was done well.

I registered on the day of the race. This in itself was very well-managed and efficient. There were clearly marked counters for different steps. Step 1 - you fill out a form. Step 2 - you hand over the form and your entry fee. Step 3 - You pick up your bib and timing chip. Yes, a timing chip. Not many of those 5K races around. At least not for an entry fee of $35 (race day). You got the keep the chip at the end. No need to give it back.

The course was straightforward with no surprises. The marshals and the cone placements were good enough to ensure that there were no mistaken detours. There was music on the course at a couple of points. Two water stops on the course. I got water at both - it was a hot day. Nice long finishing stretch about 200 meters. Thanks to that, I was able to sprint all out and eke out a sub-20 by two seconds. Finisher medal for everyone. Very helpful volunteers all around.

The post-race festivities were substantial. Strawberries, all kinds of energy bars, granola, muffins. No bananas, oranges, or Gatorade type liquids. There was also the strawberry festival right next to the finish area. Lots of booths selling all sorts of things. Lots of food. Balloons and face painting for the kids. There was a van where you could get your blood pressure and glucose checked. They also tested your eyes for vision and glaucoma. RoadRunner had a booth where you could get your running gait analyzed. They had a treadmill and a video camera to record your feet in motion.

The bib itself was good for a free burrito or a bowl at Chipotle Mexican Grill. This is a clever ploy on their part and I mean this in a positive way. Most runners usually come with someone - spouse, family, friend. If they end up going to Chipotle, so do their companion(s). More people means more business. In addition to this, all runners got a $10 gift card for Dick's Sporting Goods who were the main sponsors.

All in all, an excellent event. I'd run it again if I get a chance. So why did I take off a half point on my rating? The mile 3 marker. I didn't see any if there was one. I think a well marked one would definitely help especially if you want to know when to start the final sprint. Usually, the last 0.1 mile is where a lot of people want to do so.

Overall, it was a very satisfying experience. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone. Kudos to the organizers once again.


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