Monthly Archives: March 2016

2016 Firestone Grand Prix 5K Review

I’ve run this 5k four, five, maybe even six times since I’ve known about it. Always a great run. You get to run the Indycar circuit, so that is cool! So each year, the event should be a little better than the year before, or at least the same.

MBA organized for what I think is the 2nd time. Online entry and promotion was fine (actually if you liked their facebook page you were barraged with a million reminders, so unliked.) Advance packet pick-up was fine, it was a change of venue, but still it was organized and went well. The t-shirt looks to be a higher than usual t-shirt.

The race. This year the brick road on the side of the Vinoy was not included. You know what? That is a positive thing, because the bricks are uneven, and if it rains, those bricks become slippery. Boom, good thing. Ran into some friends before the race, had some convo, good thing, none of that anxiety being built up, just hanging out. Boom, good thing. In years past, sometimes the mayor will have a speech, then the Star Spangled Banner is sung by a local. Usually the scheduled start time is delayed while this occurs, forcing wearers of run tracking devices to reboot or face the thing going into shut-down. With about five minutes to start time, the announcer comes over the PA to say that they will be starting soon, okie dokie, I’ll wait till the beginning of the national anthem to reboot my watch. For some reason I decided to just do it right then, since I was thinking about it. Good thing. Suddenly over the PA the announcer starts the race, “runners on your marks, get set, go!” No speeches, no anthem, just “go.”

Whaaaaat? Ok, no big whoop. Oh yes there is, what is this? Why are all these walkers in the front? Oh, I know why. The announcer never told walkers to get to the back, so they stumbled into the NARROW corral, and it took me over 20 seconds to move 20 feet. Did I say “narrow?” Yes the live timing group brought a very narrow starting arch and timing pads. Couple all the walkers in with the narrow arch, and you have a suckfest start. Once you get past the arch, you still have all the walkers to contend with, that were not instructed to move to the rear. So there was a wall of walking dead that had to be waded through, just to get into a running pace. That was probably a lost 45 seconds. Once we were moving, it was gravy.

Finish line and the great beyond. This is a sunset run, so the sun is setting when you start, and it’s dark when you finish. The finish line arch was unlit. I remembered where it was and I was picking up my pace, but it was like running into a blackhole. I saw a friend just ahead of me, and figured I would try to catch up to him. Cool, extra motivation! Really trucking now, and 5 yards before the finish, I pass my friend. Boom! That’s great! Then a little kid runs across my path and I come within an inch of burying him into the asphalt. Folks, I’m over 200 lbs. This beef doesn’t stop on a dime. There were no organizers to prompt people out of the finish area. Just a mess.

It was live timed, so there should be timing sheets posted to let you know how you did. Nope. The timing folks didn’t do that. An hour later the organizer had a brief handing out of the winner of each age group as well as overall awards. That was pretty much it.

There were no finish line snacks, no fruits or beer like in previous years. For the number of people entered (over 650), the age groups were in ten year brackets, which is a big gap. Usually races are 5 year gaps. A nice touch is that awards in each age group go back three deep. So just one award for every ten years. Plus there was no result sheets to look at, if you could find a guy from timing that had the lap top, you could bother him. If you waited in line.

So no post race amenities. Big age brackets. Winner only award. I bring these up, and gripe about them, because these are the differences than in years past. The event is not getting better. It took a decided downhill slide. There was very little sponsorship outside of MBA. Which is peculiar. This is downtown St Pete, even if you can’t lasso a runner into your booth, you can at least get some of the local yocals that are walking around the downtown.

Before I stop bitching, the course was short. Evidently organizers believe that 3 miles and 5 kilometers are the same thing. They are not. 3 miles is shorter than 5 kilometers. Folks, if you are measuring a course that is advertised in metric, measure the distance in metric.

Also the results were not posted to coolrunning.com. Big boys and girls that run expect to see their results on coolrunning.com.

The race was not the worst organized one I’ve run, but if you are the title sponsor of an event, that is YOUR NAME that is being advertised, and it looks like you are dropping the ball. Dear title sponsor, you must have people that run in your organization, talk to them. Because it doesn’t seem like you are listening to the attendees. Do better next year, or don’t do it.