Azalea Classic 2011

     I meant to do this race last year but missed it somehow.  I was interested in this race as a first family run.  My plan was to have the whole family run the 1K and then I would run the 5k separately.  There was 10 minutes in between the races so I was pretty sure I could do both. Everyone who completed the 1K would get a medal (I figured that would inspire my daughter Kay and maybe my wife.)

Medals for Everyone

     Race Day:  It was a good thing we had signed up in advance or it would have just been my daughter and I.  My wife wasn’t thrilled to get up early on a chilly rainy Saturday morning.  By comparison my 7-year-old was excited to run her first race.

     Today was one of the few times my insistence on being extra early paid off.  We ran into traffic on I-295 South and it took some fancy GPS work to get us to University Park with some time to spare.  Check-in was pretty easy although there was one area for the race check in and one to pick up timing chips for the 5k.  I am not sure why they were separated (opposite sides of the building) but it may have been weather related. I also received some conflicting information on what times the different races started from some of the volunteers.  not really a big deal.

The Race(s):

     Family Fun Run (1k): I was very excited to run with my daughter on her first race. Alas, it was not meant to be as I imagined.  Apparently the 1k started as I jogged back to my car to stow our extra shirts and jackets.  By the time I ran back to the start line the racers were halfway to the halfway point.  At this point I may have spewed a few expletives, but I took off down the road. The course is up a slight incline and back down to the finish.  I caught up to them at the turn around point and was able to enjoy half of the race with Kay. It was good timing b/c my wife was running out of gas. I was glad to be there as she crossed her finish line.

     I had a few minutes to celebrate and cheer on my wife before I had to switch bibs and head up the hill for the 5k.

     10th Annual Azalea Classic (5k): I was already warmed up from my 1k and dash to and from my car by the time I got to the start line.  One note about the start line:  there was a car parked at the starting line which was annoying.  Starts are already chaotic without having to dodge a parked car. 

     If I were a good runner I would have scoped out the course in advance.  Since I barely qualify as an amateur I didn’t, and plunged ahead into the breach.  200 hills later I was paying the price.  Maybe this is a slight exaggeration.  I attacked a few of the early hills thinking I could burn out some of the opposition (I may be back of the pack but I still have some competitive spirit). I only burned myself out.  I was able to meander in at 27:12. I must have won because they gave me a medal. 

     I thought the crowd support was excellent for a 5k.  There were lots of people throughout the neighborhoods out to cheer us on and band around the 1 mile marker.  The start of the race ran past the finish of the 1k so there was a bunch of supporters there as well.  I almost forgot.  They had a marching band at the start and finish as well.  Given the choice between a marching band and music piped over a PA system I will take the band any day.  I would give them an A+ for runner support for a smaller local race.

     POST-Race: We had plans so we didn’t stick around after the race.  I am sure they had the usual post race stuff.  My wife seems to think they had a nice variety of food and water. I guess if I am going to review races I will have to commit to hanging out a little after the races.  We went to Panera Bread with race shirts and medals and my daughter enjoyed the extra attention.

     The Goodies:  The shirts were a big hit with my wife a daughter as were the medals.  Both were above average for the size and cost for the race.

Kay’s Opinion:  She liked the medal most of all but she also liked the T-shirt and the “bend in the road” where the race turned around. She would run this race again and gave it 5 stars.

Kay's First Medal


Mer’s Opinion:   My wife felt it was well-organized, not too far from our house and had a nice T-shirt.  She also felt the marching band was a really nice touch.

*****I would give this 4 stars.  The T-shirt, medal and family friendly atmosphere would bring me back for another shot at those hills. If you want to try a family fun run this one was short but rewarding. Proceeds support the University Park Elementary School PTA.
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