When your hometown hosts a race, you go. With more than 2,200 runners finishing today’s O’Hartford 5K in Hartford, Connecticut, you would think that was the place to be. But for us, it wasn’t. We chose to run our hometown classic, the Bolton Road Race. In its 33rd year, this five-mile affair is on the roads that we run and ride all of the time. It would have been more fun to run on trails, which are finally clear of snow, today, but this race, which benefits the Bolton Booster Club; and brings out our neighbors, was just what the doctor ordered.
When the flu raged through our house during the last two weeks, it seemed like winter would never end. Today, I wasn’t in my finest form and Debbie was coming off of a tough Saturday workout, but we were game for a race. We pushed our kids up to the high school in our Chariot CX-2, which is getting heavier by the day, and got clutch babysitting from my parents, who walked with the kids on the 5K loop. Debbie and I ran the classic five-mile loop which includes the infamous Hebron Rd. and Brandy St. climbs. The race has a deceiving small 307 feet of elevation gain, but it mostly comes on these two steep hills in the first and fifth miles.
Just before the start, eventual race winner Brett Stoeffler commented, “This isn’t a P.R. course.” No it isn’t. With the two hills, especially the last one, slowing you to a jogging pace, you need to bank time in the middle three miles if you are going to run a fast time. The first mile is normally 20-30 seconds slower than your average and the last mile is normally 30-60 seconds slower than your average. I’ve done the official race once before and didn’t break 30 minutes, which I knew was out of the question today given my lack of form.
We got great weather conditions. It was a chilly 45 degrees Fahrenheit with no wind and brilliant sunshine. It was the life-giving sun that made the day. I opted to run in shorts and short sleeves, which was an OK choice and just felt great with spring still a week away. As I mentioned, Brett bested Adam Seften (first Bolton finisher) and me to the line. Debbie was the first women. The field was small, but it was fun to run with friends on the roads we are most familiar with. It was also good to finally get this season underway with lots of good events coming in April. The volunteers were great. Division winners each received a $10 iTunes gift card to go with their medal, which was a nice touch. The fire department was out in force and manned every corner of the figure-eight course with a serious fire apparatus. This race definitely deserves a bigger following, but the five-mile distance (there was a 5K alternative) and hills seem to scare folks away. The presence of the aforementioned St. Patrick’s Day inspired 5K in the city and the promise of free beer at the finish, draws the runners away. Oh well, their loss.