It was the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. And so began the first annual Veterans Day 5k at the Buffalo Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, NY. As luck would have it, the weather was beautiful. I’m talking 60s! For upstate NY in early November, that is amazing. It was windy, but I’ll take it over the frigid cold and rain any day. Now, to be accurate, the start of the race was a little late – around 11:15 or so. I am guessing that is because of the unexpected phenomenal turnout. Preregistration was 200 runners- day of – over 200 more turned up. That is fantastic for a first year race. Wow- all involved should be proud.
I will say this – I have run close to 70 races in the last 4 years – and this one sticks out. I would put it in my top ten. I say that even tho I finished close to last and have put on a ton of weight and should not even be running. Even so, this was a great event- start to finish. I am very glad I made the trip from Rochester to attend.
It took me about an hour and 15 minutes to get to the naval yard from my house. What a cool place! The race pickup was right by the water and the USS Little Rock, the only guided missile cruiser on display in the U.S. At 610 feet, it is HUGE. I did not take a tour, but I would like to go back to do so. When I got to the park around 10, there was a buzz of activity – people getting their bibs and a patriotic feel/spirit (as well as many service people in uniform).
I headed to the registration table and got my bib and goodie bag-. No tshirt with this race, but inside was a dog tag with the name of the race. Hands down, that is one of THE BEST race swag items I have ever gotten. Loved it. Of course, I put that on right away. I also got a very nice canvas type race bag, rubber wrist bracelet and some stickers. You could buy a tshirt and a glass with the race name on it, so I did that too. The money was going to a great cause. A portion of the proceeds from the race goes to Soldiers Angels Care, a non profit group that sends soldiers packages for Christmas. I love their motto – “May no soldier go unloved.” I feel really good knowing that even the small amount of money I spent at this race is helping to make soldiers happy at holiday time. Not only that (update), I learned from a posting on the race FB page that funds will also go towards 16 special TVs in 16 rooms of a new Burn Ward for severely burned warriors.
Ok, back to the race. I walked around a little, took some pics of the ship, went in the gift shop and just hung out til it started. I know I should have been doing a warmup, but I have only run 3x since my toe broke, and honestly – just did not feel like it. Can you tell how far I have fallen?
Before the 5k, they held 1/2 k “Brat Race” for kids (their title, not mine). Finally, it was time for us to start. The 5k route started in front of the Naval Park museum, went around the marina observatory and then finished back in front of the Naval Park. So basically, an out and back course- part of which was running by water- always a nice diversion. The course itself was mainly flat, two tiny areas which were not as flat. You also had to run on cobblestone, sidewalks, curbs and part of the street. I was so far back that a police car was behind me as well as a few walk/run people. I’ll be honest- many, many pounds ago – this race would have been a breeze and I would have finished a lot faster than I did. But, it is what it is. I never stopped once, kept my slow pace and kept going.
Many people ran with mini flags that we were given (me included). Others had photos of veterans on the back of their shirts. And members of the ROTC ran in a group, as well as some military in uniform with full backpacks and boots. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been.
After what seemed like forever, I was finally heading back. I don’t remember seeing the time clock, but I did have my GPS watch on. You ran into a cheering crowd with military personnel holding flags. That part was very cool! They were the same people we ran by in the beginning as well. This was not a chip timed race. Your bib number was torn off and then placed on a board. Only 32 people came in after me, sigh…
After the race, they had bananas, oranges, apples, chips and water in a water bottle – score! You could also use the ticket they gave you for a free beer in The Liberty Hound, a new seafood restaurant bar overlooking the ship and water.
You were also given a raffle ticket to win an iPad and a computer. I did not win either. Boo! They also drew names for 2 people to have a special voice activated computer given to a wounded soldier on their behalf. I thought that was a great idea and a very nice touch to the event. The big awards were by Steel Crazy Iron Art and very impressive.
The male and female top winners also received camouflage bags with a lot of other prizes. There were other raffles too. I did not win anything this time, but that’s ok. The dog tag was more than enough (yes, with me it’s the little things).
The location of this race was fantastic. It was the perfect setting and tribute for Veterans Day. Of course, they lucked out with primo weather. Even so, they should be proud of this race. I enjoyed talking with Buffalo runners. There were a few jokes here and there about the Buffalo Bills. You have to appreciate a city with a sense of humor about their sports team. And whoever thought of engraving the dog tags with the race on them – kudos to you! I also saw a big media (local TV news stations) presence as well. I’ll post those links when I find them.
Overall, this was a nice race and an active way to commemorate Veterans Day while raising money for a cause that helps those who serve. I think my next race will be on Thanksgiving. I found a 3.4 mile (weird distance I know, a little more than a 5k). And then it is just one more 5k to get my 50 miles in races patch for 2012. I am so close, yet it feels so far away! Honestly, I am too heavy to be running these races and it is so discouraging to do so badly. I wish my races for the season were over. Two injuries in one year and the bad diet/weight gain really set me back. But, I am stubborn and bound and determined to see the year thru.
PROS: Dog Tags! Weather. Overall feel to the race. Swag was great. Super cause. Well organized. Scenic setting.
CONS: None really – we did start a little late. Not a big deal though…
Stats: 40:27 (13.01 min mile pace), 402/434, 186/211 women, 20/21 in age/gender range (45-49).
Good luck to all of you running a turkey day race. Gobble, gobble and all that good stuff. More pics are below (mainly scenic since I do not run with a camera, hence I miss a lot of “action” shots). And, thank you to all those who serve. Happy Veterans Day!