Friday, May 9, 2014

Lap Around the Lake

The Patriot 5k: The "Lap Around the Lake." Of all the races I've ever run, this one might just be my absolute favorite. Taking place on Saturday, May 17th this year, this race has everything. The majority of the course takes place on a quiet, camp-like road in Gray, Maine and loops you around Crystal Lake, only to finish right where it starts at a church/campground/ball field at the southern end of the lake. The course is about as flat as they come, and has a very fast finish.

The race started in 2010 and had 256 finishers. In 2013, in it's fourth year, the race had 776 finishers, including some of the best recreational runners in Maine. In an attempt to lure big-time runners, the race organizers have started to offer up some pretty nice cash prizes to the top runners, including $500 to the top male and female, $400 for second place, $300 for third place, $200 for fourth place, and $100 for 5th place. Age group winner receive $50 and the top 5 masters runners all receive cash prizes. $250 is given for a course record, and this year they've added a $1000 prize for a new state record. Not to mention other age group placers can walk away with a brick of cheese from local Pineland Farms. Talk about dishing out some money!

While the cash prizes will be enjoyed by only a few, the food spread at the end of the race is enjoyed by all. Never have I seen a spread like this before. Subway comes in and gives away sandwiches, while a local pizza joint will give away pizza. They also have all kinds of snacks, ranging far beyond the normal-but-always-appreciated bananas, bagels, and granola bars. There are mascots and kid games and music and a lot of energy. It's the closest thing to a real race party that you'll ever see!

Of all the frivolous things that are so good and fun about this race, my favorite part is the people who take part in it. A lot of kids I coach at Gray-New Gloucester High School and Middle School run the race (even if it's against their coaches asks), as do parents, teachers, and other community members I have gotten to know over the last few years. Kids who hate running still run this race because it has become such a community event. "Hey, you running the Patriot 5k this weekend?" is a common question you'll hear kids ask each other or the coaches during the week leading up to the race.

If this blog post isn't enough to at least get you thinking about the Patriot 5k, then check out this write-up from the Portland Press Herald.

Whether you're a runner or simply like to exercise or just enjoy some community spirit, then this race is definitely for you.

Is it May 17th yet????

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