This is by far the the furthest I have to travel for a race in the Kalamazoo Area Runners series, but this race is well worth it. Last year was the first time I traveled to Decatur for Steve's Raider Stomp and I had heard how well this race was put on and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I was not disappointed.
I arrived about 40 minutes before the start of the race at their high school. Volunteers greeted the runners at the gym then you proceeded over to the station to tell more volunteers your number and then went to a table to get your T-shirt and a free dufflebag. They also had a map of their 5K and 10K routes so everyone could see where they would be running and get used to the route.
After stretching, a warm-up run, and bathroom pit stop, I headed toward the start line. A young lady sung the national anthem for us and after they counted down to the start time we were led off with a bang of a shotgun. I was partaking in the 5K run. Both distances started at the same time. Now the course was run on the road, but was entirely closed off to traffic. This is great because most races can only get one lane shutdown or is not shutdown at all.
The course was a little winding the first mile and I went out with about the first 10 runners and found myself running a 6:09 first mile. I felt it was a little too fast for me for the times I have been running, but I tried my best to keep the pace up. I was attempting to stay with the second place girl. A half mile into the second mile the 5K and 10K courses split off in different directions. I turned right down one of the side streets. I approached the second water station and then turned left again and headed back toward the main road. Their was one little dip near the two mile mark. Otherwise this course is entirely flat. My second mile time was 6:36.
When I headed back to the finish in the third mile we were running past the walkers and other runners. We winded our way around the two curves and then headed down a straightaway toward the finish. I was beginning to get passed by some runners coming from behind me. I gutted it to the finish line and headed into the park. I crossed the line in a time of 20:25, 14 seconds faster than last week. I was 11th overall and finished first in my age group.
As soon as I crossed the line I was handed a Popsicle and a towel to cool off. They had plenty of water to drink and for food to eat they offered watermelon, grapes, strawberries, bananas, plums, and cookies. Everyone also leaves with a free gift. (I grabbed a lunch box). For the awards ceremony they give away very big medals and the top three finishes in their respective age groups get to stand on the podium and have their picture taken which they get for free.
Steve's Raider Stomp is the best small town race put on in the Southwest Michigan Area and I am going to be back for many years to come.