***I don’t receive free anything from the races I review.***
I have been excited for this race for weeks. The race is held by Boston Street Running located in Baltimore. One of their principles is to give back to the community:
A percentage of sales will be donated to the following non-for-profit entities
- The Navy SEAL Foundation
- The Special Operations Warrior Foundation
In addition, Boston Street Running will:
- Host an annual road-running race to raise funds for each of our dedicated causes.
- Extend a 10% discount to all active and non-active duty military and public safety personnel.
- Assist all interested local charities and non-for-profits to raise funds and awareness through running events and activities.
The have a pretty cool mission statement. Check it out here: http://bostonstreetrunning.com/mission/
A percentage of this race would go to The Navy Seal Foundation. If it is for a good cause, sign me up. I have donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation since I was stationed at Ft Bragg where I got to serve with some of these Warriors. If they have a fundraiser for SOWF I’ll be there for that as well.
Pre-Race: I couldn’t find my registration confirmation email a few days before the race so I called Boston Street Running and asked if I had actually registered for the race (see my not-review of the Penguin 5k). They were extremely polite and understanding and more importantly verified I had indeed signed up for the race. The day before the race I received last minute instructions which laid out what you could expect from race day. One thing that caught my attention was a warning to be at the race early enough to find parking and pick up your packet. Another friend had warned me that parking could be an issue in that area of Baltimore.
Race Day: When my alarm clock went off at 0530 my first thought was to go back to bed. It would be so much easier than driving to Baltimore and running in the heat. After a snooze button slap (or two) (or three) I was able to get up and get out the door. I am glad I went early because parking was something to contend with. Not being too familiar with the area I had to drive around a bit until I found parking on a side street. I didn’t see any mass parking areas so you have to search some of the nearby backstreets until you find a space. I was early so I found a spot pretty close and convenient. If you are a last minute person you may want to consider trying to get to this one early.
Once I found a parking spot, I was able to walk over to Boston Street Running and complete my registration. I love the shirt (although it is just a cotton T-shirt). I had plenty of time to stretch and use the facilities. I felt pretty stretched and loose before the race. My goal was to break my elusive 22:00 minute barrier. I hadn’t really put in the work, and had actually worn my legs out 2 days early on a bike/run workout, but I was hoping that the race would inspire me. Two fire engines draped an enormous flag across the street would provide some of that inspiration:
The Race: There was a short prayer and a moment of silence before the race. An active duty Navy Seal was on hand to start the race, and to put the day in perspective he mentioned a handful of Seals that were injured in Afghanistan and were being flown home on Memorial Day. He spoke of how the Navy Seal Foundation was used to support these men who had sacrificed themselves for our county.
There were a lot of current/former military as well as first responders. There were special categories for PD, FD and EMS as well as military. How can you not love a race where you are surrounded by heroes? There was a military style formation running with the American Flag, as well as the flags of the different military services. Out in front and leading the formation was a double amputee from the Warrior 360 Organization. They were the stars of the run and called cadence the entire distance. I have this picture (from my crappy phone) of them finishing the race:
The race went down Boston Street before turning off the main boulevard and winding around some back streets before turning around and heading back. It was a straight-forward and flat course. A great opportunity to set a personal best, but it was not to be. My first 2 miles were pretty close to 7minutes but the last mile was slow. I think the Finish Line clock was off because it had me over 23 minutes. The official results have me at 22.37.6 which sounds right to me based on what my Garmin recorded.
It was awesome to see that giant flag as you ran down Boston Street. I’d like to think it pushed me through the last half mile. There were also a lot of people cheering you on as you came down the last few blocks. The race just has a great atmosphere about it. I wouldn’t try and put the feeling into words, you should just come out next year and experience it.
Post Race: They had bagels/oranges/bananas/water and the things you normally associate with a 5k. In addition to the normal fare, they had Mission BBQ on hand. Everybody got a free slider sized sample in addition to a card for a free sandwich from their restaurant. Delicious! I haven’t been to the one in Glen Burnie, but I will give it a try. If it is half as good as the sample, it should be delectable.
After the awards (1st place finishers received commemorative paddles ) they had a silent auction. They had about 15 different pieces of memorabilia from a former Seal Commander. Mission BBQ also had a gift basket worth about $100. I bid on 4 different items and ended up taking home this photo:
Commanding Officer SEAL Team EIGHT exiting the forward escape trunk of a 637 Class Attack
If that wasn’t enough, they had a handful of raffle prizes as well. Not duffle bags or water bottles. They had new sneakers and multiple pairs of Swiftwick running socks. These raffles were worth waiting around for.
Goodies: The T-shirt and the free sandwich from Mission BBQ.
**************I’d have to give this race 4.99 stars. It doesn’t get much better than this. Most runs get the basics right but they did everything better. Things that make them stand out: The last minute instruction email sent out the day before, the T-shirt looks good (it has a great design and color), you run under a huge flag supported by fire engines, the course is well marked, unique awards, a silent auction for unique items, great raffles, Mission BBQ, and a crowd of heroes from all different walks of life. I guess to give it a 5 star rating they would have to have unicorns and rainbows (and a technical T). It was that good. I will do it again and I encourage you all to do the same. It puts Memorial Day in perspective and supports some great charities.