Race: Malden Rotary Race 5k
Location: Malden, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual Time: 23:01 (3.7 miles)
I lived in Malden for 2 years at the turn of the century and I ran the very first Malden Rotary Road Race in 2004. Back then there was a 15k and a 5k; at some point it became a 10k and a 5k. From these two experiences I thought I knew the course and was ready to run well on this 10th edition.
Apparently I didn't because after a good and easy first mile there were a lot more turns to get to Salem Street then I remembered. Also, at one point it felt like we were heading away from Malden Center and instead back up the hill. But, I was pretty sure I was wrong: there were volunteers everywhere, I could still see 5th who must be able to see the leaders...
Then I got to the corner of Forest and Pearce: Someplace I'd already been. I realized all my fears had been right - I am ridiculously off course! I looked at the cop and he said "5k? go left." To which I immediately thought - no, but I'm already off course and that is the fastest way back...
So, I ran back to Main Street. As I took the left a woman caught up with and we ran down the center of the lane with no traffic control - since we had already ran this part in the other direction. I looked at her and said, "Sorry we're way off course.."
"Really?" she asked. "Since when?"
"We should have broken from the 10k before we did. By the time we did, we were about a mile off course. I'm guessing we'll run about 3 and a half miles."
"Shoot... I thought I would win this."
She was right. We passed 5k according to my watch at 19:22, well enough for the women's victory in a small race like this. We got back into the Center of town (next to the Chinese restaurant I had Christmas dinner at in 1999) and the cop at that intersection yelled toward one of the race people: "Here come two more that were sent the wrong way!"
Sarah, as I later found out was her name, and I went through the intersection. I didn't try to sprint her or anything, hoping that her 23 minutes would stand up as race winner.
Later it was determined that we should have turned off of Sylvan Street a block before we did (splitting from the 10k). One guy in a blue hat was talking to the RD and telling him how he saw three girls with signs the block after what was supposed to be the turn and how he thought all the leaders went the wrong way. I interjected that I realized we were off course too late but me and the girl who would have won went down Main to get back - trying to make sure they at least acknowledged she was getting screwed. As we cleared up that I was one of the "leaders" of the race (odd thought for me but I was in the Top 10, I guess that's a "leader") and that everyone from the leader leader to blue hat had missed the turn. some had followed the lead bike who took them the way I went, 3 people apparently followed me because it looked like I knew where I was going, several others just ran with the 10k to the finish.
"So you ran more than 5k?" he asked.
I said, "yes" showed him my Garmin at 3.71 "everyone ran more because we ran back to Forest."
Officially, I came in fourth and Sarah came in third (1st woman). There were three guys unaccounted for who had been in front of me at the fateful juncture...
Per Coolrunning website: "There was a mixup at one of the intersections with directions Some runners ran off course and ran longer than a 5K"
As a sign of my improvement, despite running a 6k ~ I won my age group and it was STILL an event record for me, beating my 2004 by 2:33!
Sarah Phillips for still winning the women's race anyway
John Wichers took second in his age group in the 10k