Brown’s Orchards Spring Blossom 5K is the second leg of the Leg Up Mudfest Series. I think this race may need to be renamed. Last year the Spring Blossom 5K weather looked like this:
This year it looked like this:
Here is a link to last year’s review of the race:
Location: Brown’s Orchard @ Yellow Church Rd Farm in Seven Valleys, PA
Timing: Chip Timing
Course: HILLS, MUD, Slippery everything, geese
Size: Small (100+ finishers)
Pre-Race: All the information you could need for this race was available on the event website. Having been to the race before I knew where to go. If there is one gotcha for this race it would be someone familiar with Brown’s Orchards to show up the wrong place. The race is not at the main store/cafe/awesome sauce. The race is held at the Pick Your Own Orchard. As long as you don’t make that mistake, you will be fine.
Race Day: It was snowing when I awoke so I planed for a few extra minutes in case the roads were slippery (they weren’t). I made it to the orchard in about 10 minutes and I was at the race 45 minutes early. You do have to hike down to the barn to pick up your bib and back up to the parking area, so leave yourself at least 10 minutes or you may not make the start. The race premium socks were unavailable so you had to return to the barn after the race to pick them up (you would have to go to the barn after the race for cider/ water/snacks anyway). I walked down to the barn and got my bib in less than a minutes.
The Race: This year I went into the race knowing what sort of course I was facing. Difficult. Last year I only made it halfway through the race before I had to stop and walk. I knew I needed to find a slow and steady pace through this beast or I would crash and burn again.
The race starts with a long climb. Don’t think you are home free if you make it to the top without walking. The course is a series of long slow uphills. Thew weather didn’t help either. It was muddy and slippery going uphill and it was muddy and slippery going downhill. A good pair of shoes could make a big difference. I found I had to be careful on the inclines and declines or I would surely be picking grass and mud out of my teeth.
If the course wasn’t tough enough, there were two territorial geese at a pond you have to circle. The geese chose a strategic choke point that forced every runner to run within 2 feet of them. They hissed and flapped, but I intimidated them by hissing back.
It just wasn’t my day. The weather, the course, and two geese all conspired to thwart my attempt on running this course. Add to all of that, my own body betrayed me. My asthma is usually well controlled on my runs, but not today. I was wheezing and gasping by the time I reached the top of the first hill. I could never seem to catch my breath. I am sure my breathing was alarming/amusing to my fellow runners. Even when I stopped to walk (and I did that a lot), I was unable to fully catch my breath. So despite thinking I was in better shape than last year I finished in a sad 38:27. Maybe next year.
Post Race: I grabbed my socks, a water, a sugar cake and a cider before climbing the hill to get to my inhaler. I don’t think I have ever needed it after a race. It was just that sort of day. I went back down the hill to cheer on a few runners but I was miserable from my performance and the wet/cold. I only hung around for 10 minutes before I headed home.
Goodies: The socks, cider and sugar cake. If you like the sugar cake and cider you should drop by Brown’s Orchard and pick up some more. They also have a chocolate chip version of the sugar cakes that my Father-in-Law loves. If you are in the area, Brown’s Orchard is the place to go.
I neglected to mention them in the first leg of the Mudfest but let me say “Job well done!” to the York Road Runners club that handles the logistics of the race. The conditions were tough but the course was well-marked and the race ran smoothly.
This may be the toughest 5K I have run. I know I am not the most experienced runner on the planet, but this one is pretty tough. I will be back next year and I vow I will run the entire race without walking. maybe…