This morning under beautiful 62 degree weather, I raced the 2013 West Island 5K in Fairhaven, MA to benefit the Fairhaven High School cross-country team. This was the race’s second annual event and my first time attending. The race was started last year to raise money for the cross-country team and on its inaugural race it raised over $12,000. That just goes to show you the power of local charity events.
Pre-Registration: Let’s be honest, it’s 2013 and we expect to do everything we want online nowadays, even for local events. The race organizers have a great well designed website with registration form, photos, through race information including parking, and a run course map. (I did a pre-run in the neighborhood a week ago) There was no confirmation email when I registered, and the info email for race day was a few days late, but everything was pretty smooth.
Pre-Race Day Pickup: A location was available to pickup your race packet before race morning, but I wasn’t able to go. It’s great when races offer this since it cuts down on what you have to do on race morning.
Signs and Parking: The race organizers did a great job placing signs along the road so it was easy to find the race course. They also did great handling parking. Since the race is on West Island, there’s only one road on and off the island. I parked very easily at Hoppy’s Landing, a boat ramp with parking lot, although they also provided shuttles from a larger parking area about a mile or so away. They also provided shuttles to all the parking areas after the race.
Race Check In: Again, went pretty smoothly. There was separate tables for pre-registered runners and morning of registrations. (I don’t know why some races don’t do this) T-shirt pickup was simple and the area was well staffed. There were even color maps of the course route to look at. The only snag during check in was the safety pins used to attach your number bib to your shirt. They were starting to run out and were asking runners to only use two pins. Later, before the race, they were asking runners who had taken four pins earlier in the morning to give one or two to other racers. Ouch. The lines for the port-a-potties weren’t bad although there was a noticeable line after the race. However, to put the parking and check in into perspective, a local race like this is being run by local volunteers with limited resources outside of the race organizer and the timing company. They did a great job with having volunteers where you needed them and all the volunteers were cheerful, outgoing, and kept things running relatively smoothly.
The Race: Overall I liked the course except for a part that was on a dirt road. The race goes downhill immediately for about 1/5th of a mile and then turns left to follow the coast. The entire course is in the West Island residential neighborhood and there were plenty of supportive neighbors in their front lawns cheering us on. The 1.5 mile mark was at the West Island town beach where we reached a water station before circling around the WWII tower.
About half of the second half of the race was on a dirt road while we made our way back to the finish line. I didn’t really like this section of the race although I think it was a combination of the still, hot air and my energy level at that point in the run. I alternated a few times between running and walking while remembering I had an uphill run to the finish line. The route brought us back to the coast where the breeze picked up before turning right where the finish line came into sight.
I paced myself carefully and made sure to breathe smoothly while I prepared to run uphill. The crowds began to pick up and I was able to high-five my fiancé before starting my sprint to the finish.
My race time was 36:34 with a pace of 11:48/mile. (You can check out my RunKeeper report here) It was a little slower than my earlier 5K in March but for now I’m simply focusing on finishing races and minimizing my walking. This race was not chip timed, so you had to enter a corral after crossing the finish line. I like walking for a few minutes after a run but the race corral exit went relatively quickly. After check out, there were plenty of water bottles, bananas and oranges. Another almost required provision after a race.
Overall: I’ll definitely be keeping the West Island 5K on my race calendar. It was a beautiful course with a great cause and the race announced they hope to add chip timing as they grow. I hope to be running sub-30 minutes next year!
This thorough race report was originally posted by 5K Addict here: