Yeah, me neither. If you live in the U.S. (or even if you don’t), everyone knows what a big deal Superbowl Sunday is. I don’t watch football, so it does not mean a lot to me (no offense to those of you who love it!). As an alternative, I decided to start the day with Mr. Ed’s 23rd Annual Superbowl Warmup 5k. This race started at 11:30 a.m. in the town of Middleport, NY, located about an hour and 15 minutes from Rochester, NY. I found out about this event thru the Buffalo Runners Page. Turns out this Niagara county race has been a Superbowl pre-game Sunday tradition for over 20 years (more about that later).
What drew me to this race were 2 things – 1) it was something healthy to do on a day one normally pigs out on snack foods (or at least something to partially counteract what I would end up eating 2) it was a later morning race, so I would not have to get up too early (even with drive time factored in).
Middleport is a small town with the main street right by the canal. I was thankful the weather held up for me to get there. It was supposed to take 1 hour and 15 minutes, but took longer because once you get off the interstate, you go thru some pretty small, rural towns with reduced speed limits. It would have been challenging to travel to this race in bad weather. Thankfully, we have had a “mild” winter (so far).
Anyway, back to the race review. I left at 9 a.m., and got there around 10:30. I checked in and got my Mr. Ed’s long sleeve tshirt, bib and timing chip (to be worn on your shoe). From there, I did a half mile warmup. The weather was in the 30s, no snow at all on the ground. Ideal conditions for a winter race. I would guess they had a record turnout, or at least more than usual. Race results show 376 total. The fire hall was packed with people of all ages. They also held a 1 mile fun run and 5k walk.
Around 11:15, we started gathering by the start. At 11:30, we were off. I had learned the race would be partly on the road and partly on the canal path. There were 2 hilly parts, one was pretty steep. In an article about the race from the Buffalo news, it is described as “a hill that might be the steepest in Western New York running.” I’m not sure I would go that far, having run worse hills (the hills at the Phelps 20k come to mind), but either way, it was definitely a challenge. Fortunately, I just kept repeating to myself “don’t stop” and “dig deep”. My strategy is to always keep going and not lose momentum. And, as I have learned in track clinics, do not try to speed up the hill, but use the same effort (and I use my arms for momentum).
The hilly part came during the middle of the race, but it was pretty short. Then, it was onto the canal path. I run most of my training runs on a canal path, so I am very used to the gravel surface. I will say that this race would have been very difficult in normal winter conditions, so I was grateful for the good, albeit gloomy/overcast day. After the canal path, it was back on the road and to the finish. At mile one, I was at 10:10. Not great by any means, but after the one uphill part, I was ok with that. I can’t remember what I was at mile 2. I know the hill slowed me down. I still should have done MUCH better. I ended up at 33:12 (33:13 on my watch). It is so disappointing/embarrassing not finishing these races in less than 30 minutes. There really is no excuse for that. So basically, a 10:43 min pace (my stats: 316/376, 102/150 female, 13/21 in my age group).
After that, I headed back into the fire hall. They had a 50/50 raffle. Alas, I did not win, probably because I did not kiss my tickets for good luck like I usually do. They also had a very nice lunch for us – homemade chili, macaroni salad, chips, burgers and beer, lots and lots of beer – this was Superbowl Sunday after all. I talked to a few people – most from in and around the Buffalo area. I am starting to recognize people now, mainly since I have been doing more races near Buffalo. I did not stay for all the awards, but they had some interesting categories – firemen relay, grand masters, etc. And the main awards were huge trophies. I am not sure what the age group awards looked like. I left before those were given out.
Before I go, I wanted to mention a little about the history of this race. Contrary to popular belief (and the horse on the tshirt), this race is not named after the 1960s TV show Mr Ed (a show about a talking horse). It was named after a bar (thank you Google for helping me with that entire last paragraph). Even without the horse connection, this race was a nice event, a good cause (proceeds benefit a scholarship fund) and a good way to burn off some of those calories before the big game (whether you watch it or not).
Pros- nice tradition day race. Good setting. Solid, challenging course (esp. with the hilly parts). Great post race spread. Cute long sleeve t-shirt. Decent parking. Real bathrooms inside fire hall.
Cons- No water stops. No water given out at the end. This is a nit-picky one, because there were water bottles inside.
Until the next race, see you on the road!