The second annual Kaiser Permanente Run the 'Rocks 5k was held at The Red Rocks Amphitheater. In 2007, the race was not a 5k, but just an uphill run to the top of the Amphitheater, thus this was the first year of the 5k race. Registration was $35 for the race and there were 759 runners in the race, a great turnout for a second year race. Race proceeds went to benefit the American Lung Association.
Packet pick went smoothly, however when I first picked up my race bib, there were no safety pins, they informed runners that they were going to go get some and they did have some when I went back to the tent about twenty minutes later. The race featured IPICO chip timing, with mats being placed at the start and the finish.
The race started in the north parking lot at Red Rocks and proceeded down the hill. The first mile is downhill and it's a steep grade, thus runners are cruising the first mile. None of the miles were marked for the race, which would be a nice improvement for next years race.
A little after the first mile, the runners came to an intersection where a truck and some crew members were located as well as a few pylon cones. At this point in the race, all of the runners made a left hand turn. We were still cruising downhill and at the two mile mark, I thought to myself, this is odd, we have been running downhill for two miles and I know the race finishes at the top of the amphitheater, so how is that possible? I kept running downhill when a man in a truck came flying down, at this point I was almost to Morrison Road and the leaders had already ran to the bottom of the road and made a right hand turn. The man in the truck informed us that we should have turned right at the intersection with the truck. Oh, the humanity!
This wasn't an issue of a few guys running of course, everyone was running of course, with the exception of some of the slower runners/walkers who hadn't made there way to the intersection yet. At this point, I stopped and all of the other runners around me were discussing the issue and most of them were rather angry. The other problem was that the faster you were, the more of course you ran, since everyone had to now run back up the hill.
When I got back to the intersection with the truck, another runner sarcastically remarked to the men in the truck "Hey, thanks for telling us where to go!", they responded with "It's not our fault, the volunteer who was suppose to be here never showed up!" I think the men in the truck were employees of the park, so to be fair, they probably had no idea what was going on with the race.
This situation could have been avoided in a number of ways. First, is that there should have been a volunteer there to direct the runners to make a right handed turn. Second, the cones could have been placed in such a way to inform the runners to make a right hand turn, this could have been enhanced with some construction orange spray paint on the road with a big arrow pointing right. Lastly, a course map was not provided at the start of the race or on the race website. I course map is something that I always check for, one because I like to know the route, but it also helps eliminate wrong turns. Thus, a few suggestions for 2009.
The final mile of the race is uphill and tough! The runners come into Red Rocks Amphitheater and have to climb the stairs to the top, which is no easy task. The course was enjoyable and unique. By no means are you going to set PR on this course, not one part of the course is flat and the uphill and downhill parts are of a steep grade. However, I think most runners are probably aware of this before doing the race and are participating in the race because of the unique course.
At the finish, runners were handed a finisher's medal. The race had a great selection of drinks, including Powerade, Joint Juice, Fuze, Function Shock Sports, and Monster. There was also a tent where runners could grab some food from Panera, Cliff Bars, et al. The post race party was well organized with a wide assortment of drinks, well done.
The race did have a race t-shirt, but runners had to raise $50 in fund raising to be receive one. I'm not sure how well that was communicated to runners, looking at the web page, I didn't find that disclaimer. It's not a big deal to me, as I have a plethora of race shirts, but I heard several people grumbling in line that they did not receive a shirt for the race. Perhaps, something to think about next year? A lot of runners only do a few races per year, so I know that they value getting a shirt for their accomplishment.
The race was well organized and facilitated, with the exception of the one gaffe. However, that mistake was a big one, as it screwed up the results of the race and there is no way of knowing who the real winner of the race is or who won what age divisions. I'm not sure if they gave out awards or how they remedied the situation, be interesting to find out.
Mistakes are inevitable and this was only the second year of the race, but hopefully the mistakes will be learning opportunities for 2009. This race has a lot of upside, it's a solid fund raiser, high turnout and the course is unique.