Santa’s Run

The 3.5 mile Santa’s Run was held in Glastonbury, Connecticut, yesterday. We had chilly, but fun weather conditions with the temperature around 30 degrees (F). Steady light snow fell the whole time. Debbie ran with Shepard in the Chariot, so I had a chance to start up front and give it my best shot. I’ve done this race five times since 1989. It seems like more, and I’m not sure why; I always have a good time. The lollipop (sort of) shaped course is mostly downhill in the first half and mostly uphill in the second half. 

More than 1000 people lined up at the start. This race gets big numbers. There is a costume contest and every finisher gets an ornament for their X-Mas tree. This race really brings out the community, and there were a lot of spectators.  In the past, the entry fee was $3.00, which was a big attraction. This year, they had a huge increase and it rose to $8.00. Now, that’s inflation! The increase was attributed to the introduction of a chip timing system. The manual system they have had in the past was crazy, considering the huge number of entrants. Results were always delayed. 

Unfortunately, the so called, DAG chip timing system failed, and I suspect that hundreds of runners were not recorded in the official results. Debbie was one of the runners that was missed. Originally, my finishing time was way off, but that seems to be fixed now. That may have been related to the false start, which was pretty funny. We were all lined up and ready to go. Then, this dude in a Santa suit walked out and stood in the middle of the road. He raised a starter pistol to the sky. A woman on the side of the road called out some instructions, then yelled, “Ready, set.” Santa pulled the trigger, and nothing happened, but everybody lurched forward. He said, “Hold it,” while he fumbled with his gun. Everyone sort of stopped and backed up a few feet. I tried to reset  my watch, but didn’t have time. He kept trying to fire his gun and nothing happened. It isn’t too often that you see Santa Claus with a gun. Then, without warning, he yelled, “Just go!” 

It was one of the funniest starts ever. 

The false start may have impacted the timing, but I suspect it was “cheap” chips that contributed to all the other problems. Before the race, it took me five minutes to strap my chip on with a pair of cheesy royal blue twist ties. I would have gladly paid more. I had never seen a timing chip like this. It looked alien. I joked about it with Deb, which must have been a bad omen. Asking folks to e-mail you after the fact to give them your number and finishing time, is no way to get accurate results. I would imagine that the race committee is going to head back to the drawing board to devise a better timing system for the 32nd Santa’s Run in 2009. They ought to call the Manchester Road Race Committee to inquire how their new RFID timing system worked on Thanksgiving Day.

As for the race, it went OK. I didn’t feel great, but I finished 12th in 20:37, or so. I think it is still five to seven seconds slow. Of course, my watch time wasn’t right either. Whatever. I was in no-man’s land for much of the race, and never had a shot at breaking 20:00, which is always my goal. I ran 20:00 in 2000, but haven’t come close since. Our friend, Mark Hixson, had a ripping fast race and finished third overall and first in the 40+ division. He says he is training less and doing better. I wish the training less strategy worked as well for me as it has for him!

Debbie pushed the stroller after starting two minutes after everyone else. Apparently, her passenger was in no mood to ride along and she had to coax him to climb back into the Chariot, but didn’t succeed until after the race started. She finished around 27:00. She said navigating the race course on narrow streets with 1000+ runners was no fun. It was total congestion. We saw a lot of friends and got a half way decent workout. Running in the snow was cool…literally. 

Race Results (sort of)

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