Although I believe I run some sort of race everyday dodging cars, bikes, avoiding speed buses and spit I did my first race requiring registration in China. I haven’t really ran much since I left the US. It can be a challenge running on the street, there is the debate about pollution and running outside just not being good for you, and running on a treadmill is so boring. I thought this is just what I needed to get myself back into it.
Some differences between races in the US and this one. First you can’t register online you need to go in person to some restaurants and other locations scattered across the city. An inconvenience. I was fortunate one of the restaurants Element Fresh was a sponsor and I have VIP card with them that I get points for my orders (Todd wasn’t here for a really long time…) I was able to use points for the registration fee and they took care of registering me. Yeah! They also took care of picking up my race packet and mailed it to me. Otherwise, I would have needed to go somewhere to pick up the race packet the weekend before the race. Another inconvenience. Yeah Element Fresh for providing great service, otherwise these hassles alone I probably wouldn’t have done the race.
Day of the race, it is cold and overcast, gloomy with a chance of rain. I don’t want to go. Good thing my friend JP called and said he was going to meet us at the apartment to head over for I probably would have bailed. We made it over to Pu-Jersey where the race was and managed to find out way to the massive crowd of thousands and just watched. There was a fun run before the 8K. It was not as poorly organized as I thought but it still was a mass of people doing whatever. There were flags (team flags) and people everywhere. On race day they didn’t accept registrations, you couldn’t pick anything up, it really was just show up and go. No one that I noticed was checking that people were even wearing bibs.
The fun race is over, and it is the 8k turn to go. It is not a chipped race and there were no corrals. You just start in a mass. I wonder about the professional runners how does this make them feel? How do they even get out of the mass to do any serious running to win? It was shared that the first 50 people to hit the half way mark will be tagged and that is how they know who were the top finishers. How do they tag them?Paint ball guns? Do they make the runners slow down? If I was a professional runner and had a chance of winning this race, I wouldn’t want to slow down for this silliness, what if someone got ahead of me, my understanding is seconds count in races to be in the top, not minutes or hours that make up my world. This shouldn’t even matter to me for there is no way I am going to be the first 50 to the halfway point but one of my co-workers was… more to come on that.
The best part of the race was seeing the running attire of fellow participants. There were jeans, corduroy pants, work boots, skirts but not running skirts, Chuck Taylor All Stars, I know he played basketball but these shoes have no support what so ever . I can’t imagine. We were off, the sun decided to come out I didn’t wear a hat, or put on sunscreen. It is now hot and bright. It took a little bit to get into the rhythm of running the first few miles were rough. We did get to one water stop early on that gave out full bottles of Vitamin Water. Today was the day to be a bottle collector for they hit the bottle jackpot. I didn’t enjoy the waste for you had many runners just take a few hits out of their bottle and toss it. Such a waste. I decided to keep my bottle for you never know when you need a little drink and glad I did for there were no other water stops. There were… but by the time we got to them they were out of beverages. Good thing I kept mine. The race route is boring they have some volunteers with signs telling you which way to go, some cheerleaders but nothing like I have experienced in the US. It lacked energy. Along the route some of the sporty fun run families were lined up watching our torture, I would talk to the kids along the way and ask if I was near the finish line. They would tell me no. The route had us running in a square which we had to run a section twice, just to add to the boring. The best part of the whole race was that we stopped traffic! I saw cars and buses stopped for us to run by. I waved at them and was like HA HA HA, finally I made you stop.
I finally got my running groove back and it was good. Todd told me my pace was quicker than it was previously I had to wait for him to catch up. When we get towards the finish line there are 2 signs and women go left and men go right. I have no idea why…The official timer said it was just over 1 hour. I tell myself my real-time (not being chipped or having my running watch on) was under 1 hour. We did it! We head to go find out metals. There is this crowd around a table that is giving out little boxes. It is a sweaty, pushy, shoving, really bad but I did it and want my metal. Well it was not a metal but a sample of Pantene shampoo. Where is our metals? We ask a volunteer and they ran out of metals. The metal was nothing special, I have seen elementary school kids receive better metals that these. It was the principle and get your S*&$ together you had people register, you knew how many people were registered, how did you run out of metals? I blame New Balance the big sponsor and they may be getting a letter for this is not their first race and come on! Water stop that have no water and you run out of metals.We were not the last people to finish by any means. We were ahead of the strollers.
The next day I get a call from a co-worker who was there. She came in 3rd place for women but… When we were watching the masses I asked her what she usually finished a 5k in. She told he she is not fast by any means does it for just exercise and comes in around 3omin, that is around my time too. She told me she didn’t thinks she came in 3rd and needs to call them to take down her name for she said she didn’t run 8K. I said how do you know and she asked me questions around the route, double backing a section (which she didn’t do) and said her watch said she ran 5k. She did get tagged for being in the top 50 somehow, somewhere she went the wrong way and took a short cut to the finish line or a short cut to the half way point. To her defense, the route was not properly marked, not surprising by any means. I laughed a good bit over this and she tells me she needs to call them and return her shoes they gave her for coming in 3rd. Such integrity. Maybe next year they will do a better job on their logistics.
It was fun to get back out there, I got sunburned, had difficulty with stairs for a few days. It was good. Too bad there are not more races in Shanghai.