Over the past 30 years I’ve run a lot of 5k races, on road and on trails, over time I’ve lost count. I can tell you that most of the races that I’ve run, were in the days when I was younger, when I was eager to race and set new PRs. It seems now that I’m older though, I’ve lost the drive to really get out and “race” or try to achieve a new personal best in the 5K or 10K distance. I’m in a constant mental battle with myself on this issue, as to why. sometimes I think it’s because I’m just too lazy to get out and train hard, more times I feel it’s because I’m getting bored with the same old thing when it comes to running a race, what’s the point of being the fastest in my age group or beating my last PR anymore. I need something new, something that’s healthy, fun and adventurous!!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing to challenge oneself, trying to improve, or compete, I did it for years and I do love the energy surrounding the athletes, on those early mornings at the start line. I’ve built many friendships around running and doing these events, it’s just that now I run for different reasons. Instead of setting personal best’s in speed, I now think of personal bests in enjoyment!
Today, there’s no shortage of running races, in any city, or state, in any season and for the most part they’re well run events, but they can come at a price. It’s not uncommon to see sign-up fees from $35 to $55 for a run with a shirt and some bananas at the finish. When people are done, they wait impatiently around the timing trailer for the results to be posted, before they speed off to a busy weekend. As I look around at the start line the runners are checking their watches, heart rate monitors, and gps devices ensuring they’re all in sync, I ask myself what happened to the days when you showed up at a race, ran your fastest and had fun. I have enough stress at work with deadlines and goals to meet, I don’t want to put more stress on myself by always checking my progress against a clock or worry about what place I ended up in my age group.
I miss the old days when you’d show up at a new trail race with 25 other people on some pristine trails, finishing up to a spread of hot chili and some garlic bread all for $15. Sometimes it included a shirt and sometimes not. It didn’t really matter, the important thing was giving it your best, and taking the time to meet new friends that love and understand the beauty of the sport.
The good news is that those days are not lost, thanks to runners that are in the business for the love of the sport and not just to make a buck putting on an event. Striders Run store in Grand Rapids is one the best! Steve and his family at Striders, truly run the business based on their love of the sport and when they put on an event, you can be assured that it’s going to be top-notch and it won’t break the bank. Whenever I show up at a Stiders event it takes me back to the days of past, those days of shared experiences on new courses with a feel of being with family. Truly world-class!!
This year they started up a “Sunset Series” of races that take place in the evening, followed by food and music, all for $30. You can’t hardly find a 5K road race for that price. The striders series includes the race, some great food, music, a free drink with friendly people who have a passion for life. Oh yeah and on top of all that, they offer a tech t-shirt and cool awards for the one’s that run fast! If you like hanging out running with some awesome people on a challenging fun course, then get signed up for the next “Sunset Series” of Races by Striders!! Make it YOUR next adventure!!