Running a ten miler in February in New Jersey is not exactly something that can be labeled as "fun". It could be cold, windy, and many runners are still getting in shape for spring races. Spectators and volunteers as well as runners could be hard to come by under such conditions. Seaside Heights in February does not have the resort status it has in the summer, and this is not a plush venue with spectator attractions of other long races in New Jersey, such as the Midland Run. Nonetheless, with only about a month of publicity, the Chill-Out attracted almost 300 runners, and more volunteers than one sees at most 5K's. There weren't any bikini-clad spectators or an afternoon on the beach that a summer date may have furnished, but on the other hand, parking was easy and free and the drive down the shore was bereft of the summertime traffic blues.
The race itself was a flat two loop affair with half the race on the boardwalk. Boardwalk running is great for the feet in such a long race so early in the season. The boards provide shock absorption and a little bounce that definitely contribute to a faster run and faster recovery, considering the seasonal earliness of a race of this length. There were six opportunities to grab water or fluid replacement drink over the 10 miles, which is more than some hot weather races. After the race, a free pasta and salad meal was provided to all runners and volunteers.
And then the party continued. I say, "continued" because the race was really the centerpiece literally and chronologically to a weekend of events meant to center around people who run and like to eat and drink. There were discount deals at local hotels for Friday night, a dinner and entertainment by folk musician Spook Handy on Friday evening, and another dinner with entertainment on Saturday evening. Klee's Bar and Grill provided the race with its headquarters, food, and finally $1- Miller Lites. The pints from the tap were only $2.50 if you wanted to replace carbos with more dense stuff.
The indoor awards ceremony featured commentary by Dave Hoch, keeping it much more informative than most. Hoch has been part of the NJ running community as an outstanding runner himself and as a coach for more than 30 years. He has had many careers in his lifetime and finally seems to have found the one that he has been preparing for all this time. Considering his personal relationship with many of the runners he was handing awards to, as well as his stint as a manager in the restaurant business, there is no doubt why this post-race party was so special. This trend is part of all the RunnersMecca race production plans. I believe a large part of the RunnersMecca business plan is, "A race with food and beer is always a success!" Couple that with the fact that if any of the RunnersMecca races did not serve the runners extraordinarily well, Hoch and Priolo would hear it from all their good friends and acquaintances during their continual interaction with them at workouts and races. Runners in New Jersey should be rejoicing with all these factors in their favor! I know this runner will choose a RunnersMecca race on any free date available to run one!
Today's 10 Mile race was won by a relatively new local performer, Jesus Resendez of Perth Amboy at 55:20 in a sprint finish with the well known Elliott Frieder. Kate Fonshell, an Olympian in the 1996 Atlanta games in the 10,000, won the woman's race in 59:50 and was 6th overall.
My personal performance was not good because I need to train more before running hard for 10 miles, but I ran anyway because this race promised to be so much fun. And it certainly delivered on the fun factor. There are things that inexperienced runners do, that the group I was running with during the first few miles were discussing. One thing is they wear their numbers on their back, as Doug Brown was doing. Brown has been first in his age group in the USATF-NJ Distance Running Grand Prix for the last 5 years! Another thing inexperienced runners do is they wear the race shirt given to them in the race, as Charles Gadol was doing. Gadol is veteran of many marathons and ran 1:05 and was 3rd in his age group. And finally, inexperienced runners go out too fast for the shape they are in, as this 30 year running veteran did. Before the race, I predicted I would run 55:50... and then run the last two miles (OK, you had to be there, the joke was all in the timing and delivery). And that was exactly what I ran, after going out at 6:30/mile pace. Just write a big "DUH" in my training log for the day, followed by "BUT THE PARTY WAS GREAT!"
(photo from http://www.fast-women.com/photos/newhaven03/nh29.jpg)