Race: Bridle Trails Party in the Park 5k – http://www.bridletrails.org/news_events/party-in-the-park-2015-event-details.html

Runner: Mark P

Date: 6/25/2016

Location: Bridle Trails State Park – Kirkland, WA

Results: 17:08, 1st place

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

  • It’s a fundraiser for the park combined by other events including a pancake breakfast afterwards.
  • I really like their 5k course.  It’s on fairly wide and nice trails, so it’s fine for those used to the roads.  The 5k has an early steepish climb and then is almost entirely flat and downhill.  The 10k has a few narrower parts in the middle but is still fairly nice.

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

  • The 5k starts 5 minutes after the 10k, and the 10k has an early extra short loop.  There’s about a quarter mile after that and before they diverge for good where the fastest 5k runners catch the slowest 10k runners.  The race has gotten smaller so it was less of a problem this year.
  • The fields are typically pretty weak.

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race

Watch out for horse poop!

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

I ran a good but controlled race and avoided any risks.  I let the second place finisher work up the opening hill and was able to make a strong move to pull away right after that.

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

Don’t overwork the opening hill.  While it’s possible to lose more time than can be made up, it’s more common to do the opposite.  The rest of the 5k course is potentially very fast due to being flat and downhill, though the turns do slow things down a bit.  The 10k course adds another smaller hill in the first half and then a moderate one in the second half, so it’s not as simple as the 5k strategy-wise.

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

It’s a very pleasant run through the woods.

Difficulty – is it a tough course

Although both courses open with a decent climb (a minute or so and somewhat steep), the 5k is pretty fast after that, especially if you can handle the bends in the trails.  It won’t be as fast as a flat, road 5k, but I think it’s deceptively fast.  The 10k isn’t as fast since it has a few more hills, but it’s still not overly difficult.

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

They have their routine down with the 10k start followed by the 5k one.  The course is always very well marked.  (I saw the retired Ranger Mary making her rounds before the race – thank you to her!)  There was plenty of water at the race finish.  The race is smaller than the greater party/fundraiser, so the porta-potties seem to be sufficient.  (The usual park restrooms are closed because they can’t handle the volume.)

Competition – is there a strong field?

No

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

It’s easy, though it’s not advertised all that much.  Watch www.bridletrails.org for race information.  It’s fine to register the morning of the race, but you probably won’t get a t-shirt.

Aid Stations

I’m not sure.  There’s an early one (about mile 1 on both courses), and I think the 10k picks up another one.  They are probably just water.

Weather and typical race conditions –

It’s a June morning in the northwest, so it’s unlikely to be particularly hot or cold.  Rain is possible.  The state of the trails will be based on the last several days, not just that morning.  The trails can be anywhere from dusty to sloppy in places.

Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

If it’s been raining, then be ready for some mud.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends

No, not really.  It’s hard to see much on the trails.  Theoretically, one could go on the power line in the middle of the park and catch the runners crossing it in both directions (at different spots).  Everyone just sits at the arena at the start/finish.

Awards –

There might be overall and age group ribbons.

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

3/5 from a pure running perspective.  It’s done well, but it’s a weak 5k/10k.  However 4/5 from an overall perspective if you combine it with the breakfast and the party events afterwards.  It can make a nice morning.  A bunch of the events are kid-oriented, so it’s a fun family outing.