Seaside Semper Five (5k) was a small town race at its start. In fact, it was still pretty local last year when it was bombed (read my recap here). Thankfully, the race started late that year and no one was hurt, as the course was empty in a gap between the kids’ fun run and the start of the 5k when the bomb went off.
Needless to say, I think many shared in my thought that this year’s race was to earn some redemption from that awful event at last year’s and get back to what this race is really about: supporting a great cause (MARSOC foundation) and all that spirit.
They rearranged the race course this year, and for security reasons, did not announce the race course anywhere prior to the day-of the race. Normally this would give me ogida, but Seaside is a beach town. It’s flat. There would probably be boardwalk and some flat roadways. Soooo no worries there. What I was really hoping for on race morning was big crowds! And I will say, while I don’t know the numbers, this race felt like it had grown by a few hundred, for sure. There were definitely more spectators this year at the finish, which is always awesome as a runner that doesn’t finish under 30 mins. My own race number was about 100 further up than last year, and based on the crowds, I’m guessing they had quite a few same-day registrants as well because the amount of people on the boards felt quite large.
The security around the race was clearly on-point- there were helicopters overhead and tons of law enforcement out to line the course.
However, I will say I felt some kinks in this year’s race due to the changes (necessary, of course, because of the ridiculous bombing but…) Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear much of what was being said on the loudspeakers at the start of the race. I wasn’t that far back, but the sound system wasn’t great. The race itself went in the opposite direction than the previous years, and began on the boards at the Beachcomber. The start felt crowded as a result. There were also dangerous low wood planter type things in the center of the boards that I saw someone trip HARD on. In such a tight crowd, you couldn’t see them until you were right on them. I also found myself dodging walkers the entire first mile. I do wish races (especially charity ones that garner a lot of walkers) would mark off an area of walkers specifically. I fully understand that folks who don’t race a lot may not understand the etiquette that they need to be at the back – but it was a real pain to dodge around folks on a crowded boardwalk with its own roadblocks with walkers all over the place in rows of two to four wide.
Once we got off the boards, we hit the streets at just under a mile. This was where the crowd thinned out more for my pace area and it became more enjoyable. The weather was unseasonably hot and humid, and there was very little shade – BUT other than that, the actual race’s structure worked out a bit more here. It was at this point that the top finishers started looping back on us. Where the lead runners hit my part of the group, there was still larger crowds that they were coming into and no one clearing space for them! I had to yell when we went around a couple corners LEAD RUNNERS COMING THROUGH MOVE TO THE RIGHT! Whether or not that was annoying to people around me, I didn’t care – I’d rather see those leaders have a path unobstructed by 11 minute milers like myself. I felt a bit bad for them, knowing they were about to have to go up a small ramp with people still coming down in it in the other direction.
Personally – my own race was a bit of a struggle bus. It was hot, I went out a little faster than I should’ve for the weather, and couldn’t hang on. And I was SO PISSED when I saw that my last mile was 11:02. REALLY?!?! I couldn’t have just squeeeezed that in at 10:59 so I was all under 11’s dang it? None the less, not a terrible race for me.
Overall, the increase crowds and the spirit of the event was awesome. So many supporters and vets out, so much support from the law enforcement officers keeping us safe out there – hopefully next year the crowds keep on coming! My favorite part is always cheering along the course – seeing the military groups out running together, the vets running/walking, people like the fireman who ran in full gear (my god I was hot in a tank top – I can’t even imagine). I love this race, but I do think the new course had some kinks that the old course just didn’t encounter, which I hope they work out for next year. Oh, and the shirts – always long sleeve and always one I wear again! This year was a great bright blue. This race also does a GREAT job on social media, so go check them out on facebook or Instagram! They repost like crazy and really get in touch with the runners that way.