Rock n’ Roll Philadelphia 5k Recap
Race: Rock n’ Roll Philadelphia 5k
Location: Eakins Oval, Philadelphia, PA
Distance: 5 km (3.1 miles)
Date/Start Time: 20 September 2014, 8am
Distance Travelled to Compete: Negligible – 1.8 km (1.1 miles)
Weather conditions: Clear to partly cloudy; temperatures started mid-50s, and progressed to low 70s by 11am. Perfect running weather.
Course conditions: Flat all around. Start at Eakins Oval, 1.5 miles up MLK Drive, and a hairpin turn back. Weather was cool and clear. Temps mid 60s.
Having run the half in each of 2011, 2012, and 2013, I was curious to see what was in store for 2014. I’d vowed in 2013, never to compete in RnR events given the more corporate feel, until of course, I was granted a free code by City Sports recently which allowed me to run either of the 5k this year or the half yet again. Having a travel conflict on that Sunday, I opted for the 5k. Thanks again City Sports!
The expo was held yet again in the PA Convention Center. Of course getting to the exact room was quite the pain, it took hiking to the far left (west) of the convention center and then all the way back to the rear end of the building. Normally it’d be held in the main areas of the building, but that was where we were stuck. To give you a sheer idea of how far this required us to walk, it was a good three city blocks once you were inside the building.
Once we were in though, kit and bib pickup were easy breezy, even at the opening of the doors.
The expo, however, compared to previous years, was nothing special. This is where compared to recent years, it would have been a disappointment. And noticeably, unlike previous years, the half was not sold out as of yet; it was being advertised at the price of $150.
Just a little more and you can run Disney. Oy.
Noticeably absent was a key attraction from headline sponsor Brooks; last year they had a shoe ride, and the year before they had a bus tour workshop station, just something neat for the fans to remember the expo (and the brand!) by. I guess if numbers weren’t in their favour it was one thing, but honestly it was what made the expo special in years past.
I did canvass the area to see if there were any products worth trying or checking out. Didn’t see much in terms of giveaways but came across this brand of juice which I’ve never seen before. Organic natural, and tasted very good.
PowerBar is a brand that hasn’t quite won me over, as every time I try their products, I’m just simply grossed out to be honest. But this year, I tried their sauce and their bars, and I have to say, what an improvement over previous iterations.
Overall, compared to previous iterations, this year’s expo felt pretty blah. Not to mention that because of my work schedule, missing Kara Goucher would be a kick in the teeth. Or would it be?
With a gun time of 8am, and noticing roughly 8000 runners slated to run this 5k, I figured I’d try and check-in by 7:30 at the absolute latest. The march up the Parkway was routine, with clear and cool weather through and through.
Bag check-in was limited to 4 UPS trucks for the 5k; I’d imagine the half should be having way more with 27 corrals and the usual 23,000 runners or so.
Also at the bag check-in were a few tables of water and bananas, but even more strangely, bakery food trucks.
Peering closer, the treats looked quite tasty but they were pricey. Continuing up Eakins Oval, we noticed the setup taking place, the concert venue, the finish line, the beer tent by Michelob.
I ran into my friend Malinda from Twins Run and met her friend Beth. After some chatting, we made our way to the start line.
The start line began to dip into MLK Drive, there wasn’t much room between corrals at all. I was in corral 2 (somehow), but then I stumbled upon the one and only Deena Kastor, who paced the first corral.
Once the gun went off, we poured forth onto MLK Drive, onto the bridge and headed straight and left of the river. The course was typical MLK Drive – for those of you outside Philly or running the half, this would be Miles 11-12 of the half marathon course. Flat and fast, but of course, I did not go all out here as I needed total mileage for the day of 8+ miles, so I would have to complete 5 miles or so later in the evening – which I’d done.
The weather was cool and clear and although corrals weren’t spaced out, the crowd had gone slowly enough that it wasn’t too chaotic. I was far ahead of most of the field that upon the hairpin turn I could see where it was getting more crowded – middle of the pack. Speaking of hairpin turns, that’s the one annoying thing about this course – seeing entirely who was ahead/behind you. Early on, we saw the leaderboard truck honking the horns, the winners completed their 5k in 13 minutes and change but seeing them barely after mile 1 probably would have been annoying for a lot of people and especially those at the back of the pack. Yeeesh.
The only water stop of the course was at mile 1.8. That could have been even more annoying if the weather had been brutally hot, as it had been some years.
A steady march back on MLK and back across the bridge to the finish took us in front of the Art Museum. Routine finish. One thing I was grateful for: To never hear that annoying Rocky song – after 13 years of living in Philly, I’ve never quite fallen in love with it.
THE FINISH LINE:
Phew. Not a 5k sprinter by any means, but did at the normal half marathon pace (I would complete a double by running 5 miles later Saturday) to just keep accumulating the mileage. 28-something minutes. Blah.
I continued past the finish line, collecting my finisher’s medal – hey RnR DOES go out with bling – and then a few water bottles, more bananas, and pretzels at the refreshment chute, which was obviously pre-set for the half, there would be far more goodies to dole out to the larger crowd.
After watching the awards ceremony, I went to the Michelob tent, enjoyed my cold one, and then after that, queued up to meet the elites. And lo and behold, Malinda had told me earlier – Kara Goucher was there. Easily the highlight of the day.
And the medal too, never to disappoint.
The expo, registration processes, and packet pick-up were VERY well organized. The information booth had all the information I needed for spectators. Expo was a bit sparse compared to the last few years. Course support was minimal in terms of requirements though I’d think that a second water stop would have been nice. Medals were good, but again, easy highlight here were the elites. By far.
Special thanks to City Sports for giving me the opportunity to run the Rock n’ Roll Philly 5k on a complimentary entry. The going rate of $50 would have been way too much for me, almost the rate of some half marathons. But having been able to go allowed me to catch up with a few people, participate in a race weekend I would have been otherwise unable to and meet Kara Goucher, among a few other elites. And you can’t put a price tag on that.