520 10k – Mark P

Race: 520 Go Long 10k – http://promotionevents.com/520/index.php

Runner: Mark P

Date: 4/2/2016

Results: 10th overall, 34:30

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most:

– The bridge – runners taking over a highway!

– Strong and deep field

– No lines at bag drop, even pretty close to race time (my schedule was tight, so this was a huge relief)

Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you:

– The field was too large.  This was fair because it’s a one-time event and the goal was to get a huge number of people on the bridge, but it took away from the running.  The outbound pack took up almost the entire road, so coming back we had a single file.  Sometimes there were even people on the curb to our right, and people often used our lane to pass!  I heard that people in the main pack were boxed in during the entire 10k.

– The Montlake Bridge is terrible to run on.  It’s very coarse grating and uncomfortable.  There are holes in it that are large enough to trip someone, though I didn’t witness any falls.

– It was hard to find things.  The porta-potties, even though there were a ton of them, were way in the back.  The water and bag check were right there but not obvious.  Some big signs would have helped a lot.

– Stressful transportation logistics (for details, see my blog post: https://fromthecrosswalk.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/more-transportation-logistics-from-520-go-long-grand-opening/)

Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular:

– Good pacing – I moved up in the second half but also didn’t go out too slowly

– Very strong finish – got two places near the end

– PR!

Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner:

– Learn about problematic spots on the course ahead of time.  I was glad to have warmed up over the Montlake grates to have advance warning.

– Don’t expect strong thinking late in a race.  I tried to remember too many details about the locations of the worst parts of the Montlake Bridge.  They ended up jumbled.  I should have just remembered a simple, safe path.

– Get in the right position before the race starts and the early part of the race – it is hard to move around in a huge field

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course:

Yes, running on bridges without cars is great!

Difficulty – is it a tough course:

It was a fairly easy course.  It was mostly flat, but there were minor climbs on the ends of the bridge and back up to Montlake.

Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Yes and no. It had to be organized to get the reported 13500 runners through a course.  There were lots of small things though.  They closed the Eastside packet pickup early due to “unforeseen circumstances”.  I got mine but would not have been happy with a Green Lake pickup or a race day one.  Letting everyone line themselves up doesn’t scale to this size of race.  The field was too big for the course.  I described the problems that we had on the return leg, but if they had controlled the road better for us, then the pack would have been even more squished.  There was water but no bagels/fruit/etc at the finish.  Thank goodness Kind had a booth!

Competition – is there a strong field:

Yes – There weren’t any 30s or 31s, but there were 12 under 35 minutes, and 50th was 38:30.

Weather and typical race conditions:

Since this race is not intended to happen again, I guess upper 40s and dry are typical.  April is certainly no guarantee of avoiding rain in general though.  We also got lucky with minimal wind on the bridge.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends:

Since most of the race was on the bridge, it was a difficult one to watch.  The first and last half mile were viewable on Montlake.  I don’t know if the bridge turnaround point could be accessed from the east side; I’m guessing not.

The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it:

5/5 – It wasn’t perfect, but the unique experience of the 520 bridge wins out.  If they did this yearly, I would be less enthusiastic about scoring for return trips, probably 4/5 since the bridge would still be neat, especially if the competition remained strong.

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