by Jeff Burtka
|My haul from the Weekend Warrior Runfest|
I've raced 5Ks, marathons, and half marathons, but I had never raced a 10K until this past weekend's Weekend Warrior Runfest in Shelby Township, Michigan. The Weekend Warrior Runfest is a local event with 5K, 10K, half marathon, and mile races. Walkers were welcomed in the shorter races. The number of entrants for each event was small, with the half's 90 entrants being the most. The 10K that I ran in only had 32 finishers.
The race is country music themed, with live musicians at the start/finish area and along the course. I believe only the musicians at the start/finish area were plugged in, but it was still nice to have acoustic music along the course, even if it wasn't very loud. The country theme included cowboy hats for finishers, which I gave to my six-year-old daughter (she loved it), as well as a medal with a guitar on it.
|A portion of the course|
The course itself is in River Bends Park, which is part of Michigan's Iron Belle Trail. The park is full of history. Runaway slaves used its trails as part of the Underground Railroad. Legendary world champion boxer Joe Louis owned the property and used it as his horse ranch, and the government later used it as a Nike missile base.
The course traverses the park's paved trails. It is mostly flat, but there are some slight hills where the course meets and crosses the Clinton River. It was an overcast day with some slight rain at the beginning of the half marathon, but the fall colors were starting to show, making the course quite scenic.
|Half marathoners waiting for the start|
I was in the top two runners for most of the race and was afraid that we were going to come to a spot where it was unclear where to go, especially since the other races used the same paths. Luckily, the course was marked pretty well, and volunteers guided runners at every spot where a wrong turn could have happened.
I ended up placing first overall in the 10K, which is the first time I've ever won a running race. My time was far from elite (really far), but I wanted to run an even pace. I kept my kilometer splits within a few seconds of each other, except for a fast 4th kilometer, which might have been mostly downhill if I remember correctly. Although my time was far from elite, the half marathon drew a few really fast runners, and I was lucky they ran the half instead of the 10K.
|Half marathoners right after the start|
Overall and age group winners received nice wooden plaques. Considering the entry fees were pretty low and the number of entrants was small, the organizers did a good job putting on a quality race. The finish area was stocked with bananas, granola bars, and water, and everyone received a nice short-sleeved running shirt in addition to the cowboy hats and medals.
I would definitely consider running this race again, even if I just wanted to use the half marathon as a long training run for a marathon. I recommend it to anyone looking for a low-key, but fun, race.
|All smiles after the race|