2005 Chamber Classic 5K

I ran the Chamber Classic 5K in North Park this morning. All in all, I’m pretty unimpressed. First of all, I’m unimpressed with my time, 29:42, which works out to a 9:35 mile pace. Ugh. I really should be doing 9 minutes or better for a 5K race. Perhaps I haven’t been training enough lately. Then again, perhaps my sweatshirt and sweatpants impeded my performance. I definitely don’t feel like I run as well when I have to keep warm with sweats.

That’s my personal stopwatch time, by the way. I don’t have my ChampionChip time yet, and I don’t know if I’ll trust it when I do. You see, the entrance to the registration and refreshments tent was right next to the 5K finish line and the 1/2 marathon lap checkpoint. When I finished, there was no "rancher" herding me to the guy with the clippers to remove my chip. Consequently, when I went into the tent to get goodies and ask about getting my chip removed, I set off the 1/2 marathon sensor. I’m very much not alone in that, either. I saw lots of folks do the same.

The refreshments, by the way, were just about the only really worthwhile thing about this race. The spread was ample and diverse with apples, oranges, bananas, cookies, bagels, and lots of beverages.

The race was really disorganized. Nobody really knew where the starting line was because there were no signs, banners, or arches. In fact, I didn’t even see chip sensor stuff, I’m sure my chip time will be artifactually longer because there was no differentiation between when someone said "go" and when I actually crossed the starting line, not there was really any to be seen. When we actually did start, it was at least 5 minutes late. Grr.

The organizers describe the course as mostly flat with a steep incline at the beginning. Well, the steep hill part is right. The rest is flat like Dolly Parton. It’s a series of rolling hills. None are as steep as the first, but the constant up and down screws with my stride. Also, the run was through a park, but we ran on park roads, not paths. For me, that kind of defeats the prupose of running in a park. Might any of my readers know of any good 5K or 10K races that use park trails? I love running on trails. I really think Schenley Park, where I do some of my training, would be an ideal location, but I’ve never heard of any races using it.

I’ve already mentioned some of the post-race annoyances. One that affected the 1/2 marathoners more than it affected me was, again, the location of the lap checkpoint. When the 5K racers finished, they naturally milled about, caught there breath, and sought refreshments. Meanwhile, the 1/2 marathoners are trying to continue their race. It was kind of chaotic. Not only that, but the route past the 5K finish line was poorly marked and I saw more than few 1/2 marathon racers accidentally cut a large corner as they existed the parking lot we were in.

Poorly planned, poorly organized, poorly executed. It was no thrill to run this race. I doubt I’ll be doing it next year. nor will I be running the Jingle Bell Run held in North Park.

Comments 7

  1. Amy wrote:

    but but but… what you described *is* “mostly flat”

    …for North Park, that is 😉

    Stinks that the race turned out to be a bad one. Hopefully you’ll find a race in Schenley soon.

    Posted 09 Oct 2005 at 9:16 pm
  2. Rob wrote:

    There’s a standard joke about “gently rolling” in race promos meaning “bring mountain climbing gear.” Where was the race in North Park anyway? If it was out and back anywhere around the lake…well, Amy’s right. I suppose you could do laps in the North Park Boat House parking lot….

    Races on trails are pretty rare around here. The Turkey Trot downtown used to run on the Eliza Trail, but that was pretty crowded. Personally, I always wanted to have a marathon on the Mon-Yough trail and call it the Boston (PA) Marathon. There aren’t any trails in North Park that I know of that would hold a race. Schenley Park may have some trails for races, but even there, it would need to be a small race. Shame — the trail system in Schenely is lovely.

    There’s also a safety concern. Rescuing a runner on trails is difficult. EMS has to get past the runners. Run Around the Square used to be in the trails section a lot more, back when it was a five-miler. A runner went down, a Pgh. EMS Bronco (with a supervisor and goof friend) went out on the course, and runners would not move out of the way for him. They spit at the vehicle. Sigh.

    The Western Pennsylvania Track Club used to hold the Saucony Series in Frick Park. They still have the XC Challenge on November 12th. That’s trails, but be warned. This race is HILLY! If you’re running a 9 min. pace, you will have to walk at least one hill, and your overall time will show it — don’t plan on cranking out a 45 min. race!

    For a small race like that (how many?) you’re not getting a starting ChampionChip mat. Chip and gun time are the same.

    Smaller races aren’t going to be as organized as the bigger races. They’re expensive to put on, difficult to organize, and getting enough people to work can be a pain.

    Hey, at least there was food at the end. Maybe I should run more 5Ks with 1/2 marathons attached instead of running the 1/2 marathons!

    Posted 11 Oct 2005 at 3:00 pm
  3. Funky Dung wrote:

    I can handle Frick Park. I train there a lot and really doubt I’d need to walk at any point. Anyhow, at least I’d know what I’d be getting into.

    Still, what bugged me most about the race wasn’t the course but the ineptitude of the organizers.

    Posted 11 Oct 2005 at 5:11 pm
  4. Rob wrote:

    Here is a map of Frick Park. Fi you follow Lancaster St. northwest, before it dead-ends, there’s a curvy path that goes down the hill. There’s a trail that runs NNE that you can see. If you go straight it takes you toward Homewood/Pt. Breeze. You’ll see a big tree right where the grey path bends. It turns almost exactly west. That’s the hill.

    The last time I ran the XC course, it went NNE and almost out onto Forbes, parallelled S. Braddoc, and then dove down a steep switchback to the field. Instead of returning to the start (which would be the 2K, it turned up the above-mentioned hill and wound up making a couple loops right near where the +/- magnification scale appears on the Google map, and then went back down to the field. You really should run it. I think that would put you out for the Turkey Trot, but so be it!

    Posted 11 Oct 2005 at 6:02 pm
  5. Funky Dung wrote:

    My 10K route starts at (if I read the map correctly) Beechwood and Nicholson. I’d tell you which trails I take, but I can’t find a single map of the Frick trail system. What’s up with that?! Anyhow, my midway point, where I cool off and get water before running back the way I came is the paved loop behind where the Great Race starts.

    Posted 11 Oct 2005 at 6:44 pm
  6. Funky Dung wrote:

    I found a half-decent trail map, but my sense of direction sucks. I wish I had your GPS device, Rob. 😉

    Posted 11 Oct 2005 at 7:16 pm
  7. russ wrote:

    CCFA has a 5K race every September in Schenely Park.
    http://ccfa.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=108981&lis=1&kntae108981=61ABE24DA1794EFBB86E2BD9C72086FF

    Also, the Pharoah Hounds running club usually hosts a series of 6K races in Schenely each summer.
    http://www.pittsburghpharaohhounds.org/

    Posted 12 Oct 2005 at 11:26 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 2

  1. From Ales Rarus - A Rare Bird, A Strange Duck, One Funky Blog » Pittsylvania XC Challenge 6K on 08 Apr 2006 at 10:39 pm

    […] Though the setup was simpler, I thought the atmosphere was far more professional than the Chamber Classic 5K. I’ll definitely run it again next year and I’m glad I’ll be running in other WPTC events as well. BTW, if anyone knows of any good cross-country runs in the Pittsburgh area, please let me know. […]

  2. From Ales Rarus - A Rare Bird, A Strange Duck, One Funky Blog » Run With HAART 5K on 09 Apr 2006 at 6:49 pm

    […] Like I said, it was freakin’ cold, but not unbearable. The pre-race registration seemed well organized and the race started on time. I finished in 29:15, which gave me a mile pace of 9:26, and my heartrate averaged 180 and peaked at 195. That time’s in between my results for the Run Shadyside and Chamber Classic last year, and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s early in the season and I have plenty of time to improve before the Great Race. I finished 44rd out of 60 males in my age group and 110 out of 208 total participants (though some of them were walkers and skew the results a little). […]

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