Monday, June 9, 2014

Fremont 5K “race report”; or, “if you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter”

First things first: I didn’t run this race, though I did run it a few years ago with Suz for her first 5K.

Secondly: I work for Brooks, and we now sponsor this race, which is AWESOME.

In order to celebrate our upcoming move to our brand spankin’ new HQ in Fremont, the Brooks events team planned something special for this year’s race: we set up a cheering station in front of our building – which just happens to be right on the course, about 2 blocks from the start/finish line.

We were given neon Brooks hats, those insanely loud “thunder sticks”, cowbells, and signs, plus we had a band playing. (This also prompted our first noise complaint in the new neighborhood: a couple came over asking how long “that racket” was going to go on. BTW, it was 5:30 pm at the time, and the band was packed up by 8 pm.)

Wil met me in Fremont (where we pre-functioned at the George & Dragon, of course), and we arrived just as the relay runners were setting off.

I think the Briefcase Relay is the highlight of the event. Each team of 5 must carry a briefcase holding 5 full-size cans of food, which is donated to the local food bank after the race. The bag must have a handle, no shoulder straps allowed.

Brooks had a number of teams running, including the eventual winners. But I loved seeing the different team costumes – some as nerds, some as superheroes, or, my favorite, the tank tops printed with “TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE” on them.

We stood and cheered as the relayers came back, then decided to head over to Fremont Brewing for a quick pint before the 5K started as we had 25 minutes. Apparently EVERYONE had the same idea, so it took us a while to get our drinks, which meant we cheered for the 7pm start from the beer garden… and MAY have also cheered for the winners from there…

However, we were back in our spots cheering madly for most of the pack.

Slightly awkward set up: our building is on the NE corner of 34th and Stone. The eastbound lanes of 34th were closed, as were the westbound lanes west of Stone. But cars were allowed to drive eastbound as far as Stone, and then turn right – right in front of our building. So our cheer station was across a lane of traffic from the actual course… and it took us a while to work out that we could cross the lane of traffic and cheer from the edge of the course. (Something to remember next time!)

Wil and I both loved being able to stand there and cheer for the runners – especially the mid- and back-of-the-pack runners. Our location was perfect, too: within sight of the finish line, we were able to give people a little energy boost, a high five, and a push to the finish.

About 10 of us made sure to wait until the final racer came through; an elderly gentleman hustling along with the help of two walking sticks, we gave him the biggest cheer of the night.

I’ll be honest – I went because I felt I should go, and Wil came along in solidarity. But we both had a really fun time, and not just because we picked up a little race karma. My hands hurt from clapping, my throat hurt from yelling and my face hurt from smiling – a great night out!

I promise you: find a local race, get yourself a cowbell, make yourself a sign, and just go cheer for total strangers. And don’t just cheer for the leaders – cheer for the whole darn pack. You’ll leave feeling totally inspired… and totally grateful for cheering strangers in your next race.

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