It’s pretty sad when a person in a polar bear costume can outrun you. But, I must be honest and admit, he did (by a long shot). However, he did not beat my friend Kristine (you go girl!).
Trying to beat the bear was all part of the fun (?) at the 16th annual Polar Bear 5k in Olcott, NY. This race is held prior to a polar bear plunge (March 4th). There is no way I would ever do that (especially having Raynauds), but a 5k – I can handle that. Sadly, it now takes an unusual gimmick for me to go to a race these days, and I really liked the whole bear thing. Granted, I would have been psyched had I actually beat the bear, but talking to some Buffalo runners a few weeks back confirmed what I figured would be true – the person in the bear costume is a fast runner. And, truth be told – I’m not (costume or no costume).
The cool thing about this race is the tshirt you get. If you beat the bear- the t shirt says that. If not, well – you see my bear of shame shirt (kidding, I love it!).
Olcott, NY is on the shores of Lake Ontario, about an hour and half from Rochester. The form for the race had this bonus statement: “this race can be on the windy and chilly side,” great – not exactly a glowing endorsement for a fun run, but hey, it’s all for a good cause, right? And yes, in this case it was – a scholarship fund for a YMCA camp. It ended up being a cool, crisp morning – and sunny besides!
The race started at 11 a.m. A little over 200 runners turned out. This was my 3rd race of the month. Shocking, considering February can be brutal up north, and I am in very poor running shape. I also despise being outside in the winter. But, I force myself out of my comfort zone.
Thankfully, I convinced Kristine to go with me. It’s so much better to go to a race with someone, especially for me, a person who spends a lot of time alone. I have accepted the fact that Kristine always beats me in races. She deserves to, as she is much thinner, trains harder and runs more weekly mileage than I do. She is another runner I want to feature in the future for being a weight loss success story. You would think surrounded by this motivation, I would get a better handle on my food, but I have not been in the zone for awhile. I really need to make friends with slower, heavier, not-in-the-zone runners who are more like me (kidding, love you K).
Anyway, we set off for Olcott around 8:30. We got there, got our bibs & timing chips and then did a warm-up. We also spoke to Paul, the Polar Bear. He has been running this race as the bear for over a decade. It can’t be easy running in that costume. Even if it is frigid outside, I am sure you overheat fast. Kristine ended up not only beating the bear, but placing first in her age group so she got a medal- her first race of the year too – awesome! I guess the bear stops every so often and toys with people during the run. I however, would not know this, as I was nowhere near him.
I came in at 32:31. I only saw the bear at one point – way ahead of me. I was right under a 10 min mile at mile 1 and then I just slowed down. It’s ok. I thought the course was decent. It was scenic in parts -you ran on the street, but could see the lake/marina in the distance. You also ran by fields. I did not like running on the bridge, as I was breathing in car fumes, but that can’t be helped. I would say overall it was flat with a few turns and a few very minor incline areas. I felt fairly decent throughout the race- granted, this could be because I was going so slow. It was just nice being in the sun for once, so tired of gloomy, gray days (aren’t we all).
After the race, we headed inside for a pancake breakfast. They had orange juice, breakfast sausages, bananas and even oatmeal. It was nice. They also held a raffle. I won a gift card for a Road ID tag – cool! Kristine got her medal and then we were on our way. I don’t plan to do another race til April. I actually feel relieved. I want to try to get a better handle on my food (yes, I keep saying this) and I may try some new cross training stuff. I still plan to run and blog; there just won’t be race reviews for awhile.
A big shout out to the bear, by the way. He was very gracious about posing for photos. I have run in costume (Runaway bride– won a prize for that), 50s sock hop girl, etc and let me tell you – running in costume is not easy (esp w/props). In doing research about this race, I found an article that mentions how others feel about the bear: “There are always those that will beat the bear easily. There will be those that will lose to the bear one year, but return the following year for vengeance upon the bear. And sure, there will be those that lose to the bear and are disappointed, but most go into the race with a great attitude and wear either shirt with pride.”
Just like others who have run before me, I will leave you with this Mr. Bear – You may have beaten me today, but I will be back! 🙂
Pros: late morning race, love that! Bear concept is clever, so is t-shirt. Nice post race pancake breakfast. Cute town – would be really nice in the summer. Real bathrooms inside. Affordable race ($17).
Cons: No water stops – not that big of a deal since they had water at the end.
My race stats: 32:31 (10.29 min pace), 162/204 overall, 59/101 women, 11/18 in age group
The Bear’s stats: 28:10 (9:04 min pace), 126/204 overall, 85/124 men. I used to be able to do a pace close to that or better. Get it together Kiwi!
P.S. I love how they list him on the results: Name: Polar, Bear, Residence: Arctic Circle, Age: Unknown
Until next time, see you on the roads!