Firecracker 5k and Sparkler Mile Race Report – Cassandra Mellon Simmons

Race: Firecracker 5k and Sparkler Mile

Runner: Cassandra Mellon Simmons

Race Date: 07/01/2023

Location: Annandale, MN


1st in Mile, 4th in the 5k for women, best combined time for women.

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

This race was so family friendly! It had cash prizes for 1st-3rd in both events, combined time, best dressed (costume), and best stroller mile time! It was a blast being able to do the mile and go on to do the 5k 45 mins later. Okay, well maybe not a blast that last mile of the 5k, but it really was an awesome challenge. Price was the best too! There was a discount for entering both races, and a referral bonus if people wanted to refer others. Great competition and made some Strava friends that day that really helped me to push myself. I hadn’t raced a mile since high school, over 20 years ago and I paced off of a woman 20 years older than me, Wanda Gau. She was so strong and I would not have been able to get the time I did without her or the other amazing women and men that day! I won $290, which justified my new shoe purchase🤣 and was able to buy my family lunch all dressed up in 4th of July gear.

Cassandra’s son on the left rocking a 9:30 mile!

They had lots of free food, drinks, and free face painting. I plan on doing this as long as I can in years to come.

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

No one told me I won, yet as a woman when I win I’m often not told and look around for other tired ladies to try to figure it out. They did say I came in 3rd for the 5k and I told them I didn’t think I did. It was corrected after so I felt bad for the woman who passed me with 1/4mi to go. I’m glad they caught it!

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

It was so unbelievably fun and so many people were having fun with it too!!!! Yet it was challenging. There was a man that was over 70 in the race and everyone cheered for him at the awards. It was wonderfully weird how positive this all was.

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

I loved the challenge of doing both races and that my coach Dakotah Lindwurm encouraged me. I was going to run it slow but with the speedwork of been doing I felt I could hold a strong pace and go on to PB with my older self. I did!

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

Trying new distances and revisiting old ones you may surprise yourself. I thought my sub 6 min miles were far behind me, especially being I had a baby only a year ago! I was running 10:30 min miles when I started back up at 5 weeks and had to rebuild so much all over again. I also am coming back from being anemic. Getting your iron checked is another lesson I’d definitely want to share with others if you are feeling sluggish and cold. My iron levels were normal in April and extremely low at the end of May.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

That I can trust my training!

Also, not to go out so fast in the 5k. I went out with a 6:15 min mile and paid for it later. Even the woman who won said she was hurting that last mile a little extra from all of us pushing. I’d definitely settle sooner!

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It’s a lot of fun!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

It was a beautiful course! I found myself appreciating the beauty of the course and could see well ahead of me to know where I was at.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It was not a tough course, some rolling hills and paved.

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

Very well organized and chip times. Lots of photos that were so fun posted within a couple days!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Great competition but not overwhelming.

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.

Easy! Signing up, parking was easy too!

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Water and Gatorade along the way!

Weather and typical race conditions

It was hotter with the mile then the 5k after it.

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

Wear light clothing and sunglasses.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

It is a friendly course with some parts what are along paved trail where not many spectators are.

How’s the Swag?

Really nice! Cash prizes, picture frames, lots of free photos of everyone on the Facebook website.

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