Red Rose Run – A Tradition Fulfilled

Start photo. 2 June 2012

Race: Red Rose Run
Location: Downtown Lancaster, PA and County Park, Lancaster
Distance: 8 km (5 miles)
Date/Start Time: 2 June 2012, 9 am
Distance Travelled to Compete: 128km (80 miles)
Weather Conditions: 65 degrees and a cool wind blowing, no humidity. Clear and sunny.
Course Conditions: 2-3 slight inclines, steep drop before County Park, strong climb on Duke Street northbound at mile 4.


The Red Rose Run is a traditional 5-mile run through downtown Lancaster, and now in its 36th year. It runs through Duke Street, southbound towards County Park, making a dip into the park, through the park, and back up the hill on Duke Street before hanging left and around on Queen Street. There are a few inclines along the way, but between my father running this race several times in the 80s, plus several of my friends, and needing a shorter race to gauge and work on speed, this was a perfect fit.

Packet Pick Up:

Event shirt. 1 June 2012.

Packet pick up occurred on Binns Park, which is where the race would happen to start. For those of you not familiar with Lancaster, PA, the heart of Amish Country, this area is downtown, and away from the farmland (although Lancaster runs all of its three long distance races in the farmland) and Binns Park is very close to the heart of the city. Other points of interest include the Fulton Opera House and Central Market, a large farmers’ market, as well as shops and restaurants.

The Race:

My dad ran RRR #15, the blue shirt is one he still has today. 2 June 2012.

We drove through downtown, with my dad dropping me off just shy of Binns Park. For the first time, I got the sense of a small-town atmosphere with the band and how friendly people were. The grandstand was lined with the t-shirts from years past, and Lancaster residents took pride in the tradition of this race. The sponsoring radio station was nearby giving away entry forms for a pair of free Phillies tickets. The start line was intact, and as I stretched to ready up, I kept my eyes open for other people I knew.

Dad took a pic of the refreshments readied at the start. 2 June 2012.

Pretty soon, it was time to start, and with an 8:30am gun time and much cooler temps than last week’s Odyssey Half Marathon, this was going to be a race I could actually push myself without fear of dying. I got in the thick of the crowd, and then the gun went off.

We’re off! 2 June 2012.

Mile 1: We went up Queen, hung a short right on Lemon and another sharp right on Duke Street. This was a short incline and then levelled out on Duke, and then another incline hitting Vine Street. For a 5-miler, this drew quite a few spectators, but we were also catching the farmers’ markets crowd and then again, these guys took pride in this race as a tradition. Once I hit Duke Street, I was going faster than I expected, for someone with a 10 minute base pace, I was clocking in at 8:17. I was told there were more inclines early on.

Ready at the start. 2 June 2012.

Mile 2: Men pushing strollers were starting to push past me, but given their build, they’d have been running past me with or without strollers. One guy pushed his stroller past me blasting “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” whilst others were talking about how their kids would be pushing against them on the hills.

My dad reminded me how that this was not the first time I was on this course. My first time, he reminded me, was when he was pushing me in a stroller…in 1985.

Thanks Dad.

After passing Vine Street, we took another slight incline before darting rightway into County Park, which was a very steep hill down. Once we were into County Park, it was a very idyllic, quiet, peaceful run and cooler air to boot. I was able to pick up speed here, locking in around 17:30.

Mile 3: We passed what would be the only water stop in the course. This threw me off because per the map on Lancaster Square at the start, the map indicated that the water stop would be on Duke Street where both the up and back routes intersected, effectively making it two water routes. Yikes. Thankfully the air was cool, on a warmer more humid day this would have been devastating.

Mile 4: Up the first hill out of County Park. Not bad. Back onto Duke Street, okay still not too bad. The killer? Duke between Chesapeake and Dauphin. This hill looked a lot worse than it was going down, I would have been able to anticipate it otherwise, but we had taken the other slope into County Park. UGH. The good news? I didn’t walk at all? The bad news? I felt the crunch in my quads. Yikes. Why in bloody hell am I so weak? This was troubling. I kept trooping up the hill, and what made me even more nervous was an older man, huffing and puffing very severely. Oh geez. I passed the split clock further north on Duke Street as I kept telling myself to keep up the pace as long as I could keep up with my breathing.

Mile 5: I had passed an old high school classmate and another family friend who was eating at an Italian bakery nearby. The spectator base was building up as we were catching more of the Central Market crowd. Duke Street flattened out and I knew I could make good time if I could keep up. Orange Street, then Chestnut, then hung left on Walnut. Then back on Queen downhill to the finish.

YEAH CHARLENE! I heard my old friend (and prom date!) Nick cheer as I raced across. He too is a runner, but sidelined by injury.

Crossed the finish line. 46:16. A 4 minute PR, although I will admit I was hoping for sub 45. My quads just aren’t there yet, and I am sorely lacking muscle where I need it most.

Slowing down in the chute. 2 June 2012.

After the Race:

Kicking back in front of the band. 2 June 2012.

Through the chute I went with race stewards handing out Lancaster Barnstormers Bananas, oranges from Kegel’s Produce (which I remember back in the day!) and plenty of drinks provided by none other than Turkey Hill awaited us at the finish. The band played loud and clear and I enjoyed catching up with old high school classmates after the race.

After we cleared out we headed to Central Market to chow down on some good eats but overall this is one I’ll return for again schedule permitting, a great way to work on my speed and a chance for me to return home and see family and old friends. Course support was great, maybe an extra water stop would help should the temperatures not be so cool.

But that aside, I’ll be back! Cheers to a good race in Lancaster.


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