73. Chase Away 5K, 2012

Chase Away SignThis was a special race for us. The Chase Away 5K benefits an organization that fights canine cancer, so of course we thought of my in-laws’ dog Socrates. We lost him this year to cancer. This 5K was Cara’s way of giving him a bit of a send-off.

There were bunches and bunches of dogs about when we arrived. Big dogs, little dogs, goofy dogs, dogs in vests… all sorts. It was like a cute bomb had gone off and nobody made it to cover. We would have brought Dublin, but we were prevented by two things. As a pug, his airway isn’t well-suited for distance running. And also, he’s often a jerk when we take him out in public. (We often explain it to people by telling them that Cara adopted him in New Jersey.)

Getting there and Getting our packets

Registration was pretty easy. It was a 10am race so nobody seemed be late. We were divided into  a line for pre-registers  and another for new registers. Pre-reg was a bit slower because of the successful communication about this race.

Chase Away Shirt with Names Folks knew what was going on, and no one seemed confused about anything. It was also a little more worth it to pre-reg for this one because of the nature of the race shirt. For an extra five bucks, you could add the name of a dog who either has cancer or was lost to it. Cara added Socrates to the list. It’s a simple white shirt, but pretty good for a small event like this. There’s also some extra value when you consider the custom bits added to the content.

Another plus was the presence of Cara’s folks. They came to see us off and watch us finish… and to hold our stuff. Not such a big job when the car is parked super-close, but still nice. You can see them in the Flicker set below.

Good Things, Bad Things

The plus-side of this race is pretty heavy. Lots of things went well. Registration was good, the crowd was good, the course, energy and organization… all were good.

Lilly the Japanese Chin

Lilly is full of energy and extremely friendly. And cute. And fun. And up for adoption at Potter’s Angel Rescue.

However, I did see a couple of places where they could have done better. The first place was on the course. Signs were well-placed and prominent, but if you end up with no one visible in front or behind, it can get confusing. I was looking for the signs and thankfully they were available to me. However, I wish the folks guarding the turns had placed themselves better instead of just hanging out and waiting for a problem. By standing kind of in the way and pointing, you can make sure people go in the right direction. Not such a big deal when there’s a trail of people, but very important if you’re alone like I was. Not all races have their signs set up so nicely. That being said, I didn’t witness any actual problems. People seemed to get to the Finish Line without any trouble. The volunteers had it covered, even if I would have covered it differently.

The other problem was with the Finish Line. Oh, man… what a mess. Chips are too expensive for a race like this, so I expected a small roped-off chute at the end. One person clicks the stopwatch while the other takes the bottom tab from your bib and keeps them in order. In this way, times are kept without chips. That is not what I saw today.

Trouble at the Finish

The lower portions of our bibs were taken before the race to be used in the post-race raffle. For placement, one person stood at the Finish line with a clipboard and wrote the numbers down as they came in. That’s it.

It’s… crazy, to say the least.

This puts quite a bit of work on the shoulders of one person who doesn’t have X-Ray vision. When a pack of runners shows up, she had to remember their numbers and the sequence as they crossed the line and scattered. When (a depressing number of college-age) women wore their numbers on their butts, she had to look after them to see or even ask for the number. She often had to ask twice. And of course, other people finished the race while this was going on.

It’s completely impossible to trust any sequence that the organizers publish. The winners are a sure thing, but after that it’s a jumble that could have been prevented with a little rope and some intact bibs. It’s not such a big deal for a fun little race like this one, but it’s something they’ll want to change for next year.

Raffles and things

After the race, we chatted with Cara’s folks for a bit and checked out the post-race raffle. It turned out to be exactly like the last raffle we attended… most of the stuff on the prize table was given out, and then they called my number. I had a choice between two dog collars. Since one of them was labeled “Dublin Dog”, we took that one.

Over all, I give this one a thumbs-up. Everyone was happy, the dogs were adorable and the organizers were friendly and passionate about the cause they were serving. It was a win for everyone involved. Cara and I both finished well, I with 24:48 and Cara with 31:01.

I just hope that lady at the finish line didn’t get too frustrated. If I see her out and about, I’ll buy her a beer to take the edge off.