Six-word recap: I could have won, but didn't.
The race director for this Oak Park event contacted me about this new race and I was delighted to join. I knew I had a half Ironman the next day, but at 8K, I knew if I dialed it back, I could treat this nearly five-mile race as a shake out prior to the Door County Triathlon.
The Hemingway 8K is a themed event that's part of Oak Park's bigger event celebrating Hemingway's birthday. It's themed, so of course, I had to wear horns. I got them on Amazon and got a lot of positive feedback about them, even though they were tough to clip into my hair. The price of beauty, I suppose.
I got there early and parked in a deck about a block away, and had no trouble picking up my packet from race volunteer Erin. I ended up walking back to my car in search of pre-race bathrooms. There were a few real bathrooms at Scoville Park, where the race started and finished, but they weren't open yet. Race swag included a gender-specific cotton shirt and a bib, plus there were tons of vendors on site. I got a pre-race rub down, which I figured could only help me given the level of activity slated for the following 24 hours. I also snagged new water bottles, temporary tattoos, hair ties and all manner of snacks while I waited for the race to begin. And my favorite vendor ever was there:
Despite being a modestly sized just short of five miles race, there were pacers ranging from a 7-minute mile to 11 minutes. They were all themed as bulls, too, and a ton of people dressed up even beyond my efforts. There was a spirit award and I was sadly not even in contention for the prize.
The race started on time with about 300 participants. It was hot. Really hot. There were a few aid stations on the course and quite a few people out with their kids and dogs watching the race. In the first mile, I made myself slow down because I hit 8:14 and knew that wasn't a) sustainable or b) smart given the miles I would cover the next day. I plugged along through the neighborhoods of Oak Park, listening to music on a borrowed iPod shuffle and thinking about keeping it slow and easy. There were timing clocks every mile and I slowed down even more in the last two miles, rather than sprinting to a finish. I was absolutely soaked from the run - it was muggy and gross and I dumped water on myself to keep cool more than once.
At the finish line, they had a bounty of bananas, French bread, pretzel rolls (nice touch, in my opinion), granola bars and water. I drank everything until I could breath again, then enjoyed watching the kids race and awards ceremony. Kids got to decorate and race with these cardboard bulls around Scoville Park. It was adorable.
Because of my "take it slow" strategy, I came in fourth in my age group. A mere 40 seconds separated me from placing. Any other day, I feel like I could have rocked this race. Alas, there's always next year ...
Time: 42:23 for an 8K (8:32 pace)
Cost: Free for me
Pros: Small community race, cute theme, easy to get to and park, lots of vendors, better than average post-race food and a cute FREE kids race, very flat course
Cons: No on-course bathrooms, it's really hot this time of year
Would I do this race again? Sure thing!