Funny thing about running, new experiences can occur after decades of racing the same distance. Running a weekend 5K generally isn’t noteworthy.
Last weekend’s Syracuse Festival of Races was for me – for at least three reasons. It was:
1) a first experience running in a USATF Masters race (I’m a little late in starting, since I was age-qualified 26 years ago). The Festival of Races hosted the USA Track & Field Masters 5K Championship Race for 2013.
2) a first experience standing within four feet of the Start line before the race start. USATF Masters participants lined up at the Start in front of runners in the general 5K.
3) a first experience having my shoe come untied during a race, not just at a 5K but at any of the hundreds of races I have run.
Within 20 feet after crossing the start line, I felt the sting of a shoestring tip snapping against my shin. My initial hope was the shoestring belonged to someone running beside me. No such luck. I was near the outside of the course and quickly hopped to the curb to avoid becoming a hazard to any of the other women running. Within 30 seconds, my shoe was retied and I worked myself back into the moving stream of runners. but not before the Masters pack had left me far behind. Now, I was where I usually start at a 5K – back in the middle of the pack.
That 2) and 3) would occur at 1) was a disappointment. That I finished 5th out of 7th in my F65-69 age group with a 27:05 was not. The level of performance among the Masters runners was inspiring. I felt honored to be running with such talented women.
Stumbling across this race was a gift to begin with. My travels were taking me through Syracuse NY and as usual I looked for a local running group or race. I could have registered for the 5K without registering for the championship, but why not step it up? I looked through the information on registering. To participate in the Masters 5K, registrants were required to be U.S. citizens (✔) , members of USATF ( ✔) but no performance standard required (✔).
I’m pleased I made that decision. The USATF staff were welcoming. At the reception room pre-race evening, I picked up training trips from other runners, both members of track clubs from around the country, including runner and author John Farah, and a few unaffiliated runners like me.
Race day, USATF had a tent for Masters runners offering water, coffee, bananas and a temporary dry space as sporadic rain came down. We left warmup clothes in that space as well. I could get spoiled with this treatment.
Awards were presented at an optional brunch following the 5K. I could rave about some of the finish times announced, but will instead leave you with a link to the results.
If USATF membership and their races, Masters and overall, are of interest to you, take a look at their 2014 National Championship Series race schedule.