Last year's race was short by 0.37 mile, and I'd never been happy with race management of this event after the Jr. Nordics Comp Group gave it up some four or five years ago. Race fees jumped up from $15 to $25, they seemed to be into just for the money, and the organization was just kind of a mess. Non-runners putting on an event for the hard core Flint Hills series participants.
Others seemed to have noticed too: in 2004 there were 250 runners, and that dropped to 150 2010. However, it seems they're getting it now. A couple years ago they offered reduced entry fees for kids 17 and under and have scaled back the fee for adults to $20, and last week after a phone call from a concerned runner, they got right on it and by Friday afternoon had a new/accurate out and back course. It was also pretty easy to follow (well for most of us).
This year there were 177 finishers.
So yeah, so good job Opera Fairbanks!
My race went fairly well, but as usual you always think you can do more. I was hoping for low 29s (about what I did in 2007, when I was in similar shape). Had only 23 minutes to warm up and stretch--getting your sleepy 13 year old out the door on a rainy Saturday morning is not an easy thing to do.
It was unseasonably cool (48?!) at the start with a light drizzle and steady wind from the southwest. The three leaders, Devin McDowell, Steve Chiu, and Chad Carrol broke away within 200 meters from the start and I settled into a pack of four. We held pretty tight until just about 3K, when I decided to see what they were made of. By the turn around (4.1K) I had what seemed 8 or 10 sec on them and thought 4th was in the bag. Focused on keeping steady/strong. But by the community theatre, with about 2K to go, I heard footsteps and there's this lanky guy in a cotton shirt and shorts, and sandals of all things. I thought no way am I getting taken out by a guy in sandals. But he was strong, and I hung on for maybe 500 meters before succumbing to oxygen debt (the limit for that keeps getting lower an lower) and falling back.
He had at least 7 or 8 sec with 1K to go but kept turning the wrong way, so I'd yell Right! Left! Right! and reeled him in a little on those three final turns. So the 3+ seconds that separated us was kind of deceiving.
The sandaled runner was Sam Viavant, whom I remember a few years back when he was a stellar skier/runner for West Valley High School. I'm the same age as his dad, who's also a fine age group competitor :-)
29:28.9, 5th. Meh, not particularly happy with the time, but then again grateful to even be out there running and racing and actually feeling pretty good most of the way. I think this will be a year when I don't turn any great fitness corner, just plugging along but holding my own for a geezer.