Last week, the Dude said he wanted to run another 5k. He hadn’t run one for ages (we don’t push it) and he wanted to do another. Excellent, I told him, we could do the free Parkrun at Crissy Field. He asked if he’d get a medal. No, I said. ‘I want a medal’ he told me. He turned down another cheap 5k on Labor Day for the same reason. It’s all about the medals when you’re 5. But it’s all about the medals when you’re 40 as well – I love medals. So we did some investigation and discovered that Brazen were holding a 5k trail race on Saturday. Brazen are an awesome race organization who give ENORMOUS medals. I knew the Dude would be happy, so I signed us both up.
The morning was slightly chaotic for many reasons – basically I didn’t get myself organised. So it was a stressful drive down to San Jose and then more stressful as we followed the slowest driver in the WORLD along the hilly country lanes, but we eventually got to the race, parked up, used the bathrooms (PHEW) and got our numbers. We had about five minutes to spare. We lined up, took photos and had a final kiss.
Joseph D Grant Park is in the foothills of Mount Hamilton. It’s a flattish, grassy valley burned gold from the drought. Having said that, the course was not flat – the female course record is 24 mins so I knew it wouldn’t be a fast race. It’s also long, measuring about 3.4 miles officially. I’d warned the Dude that it was going to be hilly and we had a plan. Run the downhills, power hike the uphills.
We ran across the start-line and briefly across a badly rutted field to get to the path. Along a path for a minute and then we plunged down on dusty trails. The first mile was basically downhill and the Dude ran pretty much all of it. He walked a little but was running pretty steadily as I encouraged him along. My watch beeped 1 mile, he was happy. His shirt came off…it was hot.
The aid station came at about 1.2 miles. My son piled into the candy and the gatorade (not things we have much at home) and then, spurred on by sugar, ran on. Slightly more downhill and then the climbing began. A few hills were quite steep but on the whole it wasn’t too bad ! We got into a great routine of walking a bit and then running for 50 steps – I’d count and the Dude would jog along. He got really good at that and I was really impressed.
Runners from the 10k and (maybe?) the half-marathon joined us at this point so we tried to keep to the right (although it’s like steering a kitten sometimes). We turned onto Snell Trail and I pointed out that ‘schnell’ is ‘fast’ in German so we sped up (it was downhill) yelling ‘schnell schnell’ and pretending to be planes. That was fun. Lots of the runners who passed us encouraged the Dude, which was really kind. One girl mentioned the free ice-cream at the end and that literally worked miracles.
And before long, we could see the flags lining the finishing chute in the distance. The Dude had already warned me he would sprint at the end and leave me for dead, as he did in Maui. So once I knew he couldn’t get lost, I yelled ‘Go go go’ and he sprinted off down the (somewhat lethally pitted) finishing chute across the line. I followed a few seconds later.
Giant medals. Big smiles.
As ever, Brazen put on an excellent buffet which we piled into, and we did find the promised ice-creams. The Dude was delighted to find he came third in his age-group so got an extra medal!! I didn’t even bother checking my name on the list and came home to find that I’d also come third, I could have got an extra medal too. Darn, but also yay!
Brazen are so good at what they do. The race organization was faultless. The course isn’t easy (you’d be unlikely to PR here) and the park isn’t spectacularly beautiful but it is pretty and was a pleasure to run around!
Discussing it on the way home, the Dude said he’d like to run more trail races. Okay, Stinker. Next week?