Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chaska Skeleton Run 2014 (Unofficial 5K)

Chaska Skeleton Run Unofficial 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 11:16/mile

As you all know, I love me some costumes.  I know I don't have to convince you of that.  Which means, of course, that Halloween races are my absolute favorite.

But when you're a racer that is boycotting Team Ortho, who happens to run the biggest Halloween race of the season, what's a girl to do!?

Well... good question. 


As is any conversation had with me, it didn't take long for this one to follow a different path.

Apparently, this idea was solid gold.  Before I knew it, I had developed a following.

Of course, the planner in me couldn't leave well enough alone.  Besides, I love the swag you get at a Halloween race.  So, one last proposal.

Well, two technically.  But I kept this one as a special surprise for event day:

And so the story begins.  Within one week's time, a casual group run was formed, with awesome swag and camaraderie to boot.


A couple of weeks prior to the run, shirts arrived and I was thrilled.

And not to toot my own horn, but I knew they were awesome when everyone started begging to get theirs ASAP.  LOL!

The medals were pretty sweet, too.  Plus they came pre-assembled (engraved tag was surprisingly already attached), whoop!


And as a final detail, prizes!!  Because what's a costumed event without best costume prizes? 

Jealous?  I bet you are!!

And yes, the crochet items are from my sister's Etsy boutique.  Go check it out!

Anyway!  In the days leading up to the event, it seemed like all was well.  With about a week left prior to the big day, we had a healthy group of 38 registrants planning to run.  At Run Mankato, which took place the weekend prior to Skeleton, we made one last announcement reminding folks to come (where I was called a race director and modeled the skeleton shirt - wahoo!)... and then... WOOSH! 

Somehow, on the Tuesday before, headcount ballooned.  On Wednesday morning, with only 2 full business days left until we ran, our head count was almost 70.

D'OH!  Although it was GREAT to see so much interest in the run, I was in trouble.

With just 38 folks on the docket a few days prior, I had only ordered 60 "finisher" medals, figuring 20ish spares would leave us comfortably covered for any unexpected RSVPs.  Given the balloon in attendance, we were going to be terribly short. 

In a last second scramble, the Run Club Director dug through her stash of random prizes and scrounged up 20+ spare medals - that she customized with some fancy inserts (these would end up being just for kids):

As an added bonus, when she was digging out medals, she found some old race bibs.  SCORE!  Despite the last second balloon in numbers, things were coming up roses.

Crossing my fingers, I hoped that our "spare medals" would keep us covered for any additional registrations.  Besides, at this point, there was nothing I could do but wait for the big day...

So what am I waiting for?!  Let's do this!


Hooray! The morning of the run had finally arrived!  I was super excited!

Given I was "Race Director (Assistant)", I decided to be plenty early to the gym to make sure I could help with any last second set up type stuff.  That meant beating the 8:30 start time and getting to the gym well before 8am.

Hooray!  Another early morning.  You know how much I love those.  HA!

When I arrived, I found out that the Run Club Director had already done a fabulous job of decorating the community room where we would meet pre-run (and feast post).  Even the prize table looked fantastic!!

With little to do given her thorough prep job, I began anxiously milling around and hoping all would go well. 

Slowly but surely, participants started to trickle in.  I tried my best to take snap shots of a few of my favorite outfits, but quickly got distracted.  At least I got these few nailed down:

The official count on Friday night had finally settled in at just under 80 participants - 79 to be exact.  As more and more of those folks arrived to check in and claim their bibs, I was elated.  Not only were people excited and jubilant, they were REALLY getting into the costumes. 

In a last second rush before pre-run announcements, I tried to get a 360 view of the room.  The photos were a little grainy and dark, but at least you can get the feel:

Although we weren't 100% signed in (a few people were late or just fell out day of), just before 8:30 the Run Club Director started making pre-run announcements.  Overall, the concept was: run what you could, turn back when you were ready, mind yourself at all traffic crossings, and keep with young children (if you brought any along).

Oh, and of course, follow the unicorn!

Yep, I lead the run... although I was more than happy to let people pass me.  And most did once we were about a quarter of a mile out.  After all, I'm not THAT fast of a runner.  Heh.

While I would have preferred NOT to start the pack, being that I am a slower runner (by comparison to the bulk of the run club), I actually enjoyed being leader of the pack.  Why?  Because as everyone passed me, they shared their excitement and appreciation for organizing the event.  I made a lot of first time introductions with people in the run club too, people who had heard of me but not met me in person, which was fun. 

And, I found out that my influence was INTERNATIONAL!  Yes sir!!  We had a group of visitors from Germany participating as well.  Awesome!

The route was a simple out and back along the main road leaving the community center, with markers at every 1/2 mile to make it easy for people to determine how far they would like to go.  The experienced runners who wanted to could run to mile 2 (or further) and get in 4+ miles.  The people who came to earn a 5K title could run to mile 1.5 and turn back to hit their goal.  And even walkers and kids who wanted to participate in a limited capacity had an option, with the first 1/2 mile clearly signed for a 1 mile round trip journey.

You can get a general idea of where I ran based on my GPS map:


And as you can tell by the elevation chart, this was not a flat course.  So, it wasn't a FAST route.  But fun none the less.

Speaking of FAST (or maybe not), even though this was just a casual group run, I posted a finish time at the top of this recap just for the heck of it ... I mean, with 70+ participants, this was bigger than some official races I've done anyway, so why not?! 

In regards to my "finish time", though, I should note that I had a couple of set backs.  First, there were three intersections where I had to stop and wait due to traffic lights.  Second, I had some slight difficulties at the beginning in getting my GPS watch up and running and shorted myself about a quarter of a mile.  So, my splits ... well, yeah.

I started to try to figure out a more exact time by separating out my stoplight wait time, which actually ended up being quite a bit - almost 30% of my run: 

And then I tried to add in the time I spent running the quarter of mile I was short at the beginning... but finally I just said - meh, it's a wash.  I started a little short on distance, I spent a little time on course waiting at stoplights (and socializing, let's be real).  I suppose the 34 minute finish time is close enough.

Besides, 34 minutes is good enough for me and my funky feet, especially when you add in the hill factor.

But I digress!  Back to the event.

A lot of things happened during the 3 miles I ran, and I could go on with details forever.  But given the length of this recap already, I'll cut to the finish of my run.  Which brings me to our photographer... of sorts.

In a last second hustle the day before, I had the grand idea to ask a fellow run club member to take candid photos pre/post run.  Figuring I'd be busy running check-in or something else, I knew I wouldn't get in many snap shots.  Imagine my surprise, though, when I came into the finish and saw she took my request above and beyond ... filling the role as official finish line photographer!  Awesome!!

You can almost see the appreciation oozing out of my smile:

Or maybe I'm just laughing because the Ooompa Loompa in front of me is realizing she shouldn't have trusted that fart...?

Lady Ooompa was actually trying to make it look like she was fearing the Unicobb.  Original intent - fail.  End result - perfection none the less.

As I came in to finish, I noticed we had one extra participant who had crashed the party.  And although they couldn't join me inside for post run munchies, I don't think they minded:

While the hot doggie was cute, I couldn't stay and chat.  I had to get moving!!  Despite my profuse sweating, yes - the day clocked in at over 60 degrees and I ran in that furry hat the entire 5K distance, there was no time to waste on cooling down.  It was time to start discussing costume prizes with the Run Club Director and someone else I'll just call Check-in Assistant (since she ran the sign in table on event day).

Our discussion was intense.

Trying to pick a winner for best kids, female, and male costume was really difficult.  So many people had done a fantastic job on their outfits. 

Right off the bat, though, we were forced to eliminate some participants due to the fact that we didn't have a group costume category, and we couldn't just award one person of a group.  Boo.  Lesson learned for next year.  Sorry Ooopma Loompas, Ghost Busters, Tortise & Hare, Red Riding Hood & Big Bad Wolf, Chefs & Lobster (baby), Farmer & Horse, Gorilla & Banana ... and any others I may have missed.  You have a chance to be redeemed in 2015, though!

Having eliminated a fair number of participants due to this technicality, it was still tough to choose best costume.  There were just that many great costumes!!  Eventually, we decided to base our choice on a few main points:

(1) Commitment to Costume
      Did they take it above in beyond?  IE face paint, full face mask, props, etc.

(2) Functionality of Costume
      Did they run in gear that was not conducive to running?

(3) Execution of Costume
      Did they run the entire distance in the ENTIRE costume?  (No removal/carrying of parts).

After reviewing costumes against these criteria, the winners became clear.

*Faces have been blurred on the following photos due to privacy reasons.  I don't like to make assumptions that everyone is OK with being featured in social media.

To help with the flow of people given our large group, we decided to call up each costume category one at a time and announce winners.  In doing so, we were able to not only single out the winner in each group, but were also able to create a flow in awarding medals to all the participants.

But, a minor hitch.  After we lined up all the kids and took the first set of group photos, we announced that kids in costume would receive a participant's medal.  Everyone was so excited when I said medals (and no - not just the kids were excited), that people almost forgot there were prizes to be had for best costume.  LOL! 

Luckily, the Run Club Director had control of the madness and wrangled the winners each time before they could run off.

Here they are...

Best Kid - Pirate

Costume included shirt/skirt, head scarf, pull on faux boots with coins that jingled along the cuff (hmmm - a musical costume, the Unicobb is inspired), and a sword as a prop.  Even I know how hard it is to run a race with a prop in hand.  Prize EARNED.  Enjoy your booty, matey!

Best Woman - Skeleton Bride


Painting your face prior to a run where you're likely to sweat and have it drip down your neck?  That's commitment even I don't have.  Prize EARNED.  I bet if it weren't for the makeup all over her lips, she would have kissed that trophy.  LOL!

Best Man - Mario

Running any distance in denim overalls is quite the feat.  As Cookie Monster once said "C is for Chafing".  I definitely don't have the courage for that level of personal injury.  Prize EARNED.  Way to go, Mario!

Once prizes were presented for all in costume, I realized I got lucky.  Several runners had departed prior to the costume contest, so we hade plenty of medals to go around.  I was glad to see that, and offered the opportunity for any runners not in costume to claim a medal to commemorate the day. 

Much to my surprise, we still had plenty of medals left.  So much so that I offered the kids the opportunity to exchange their more generic medal for a "sparkly medal" (as I called it ... they were quite glittery after all). 

Somewhere in the hullabaloo of all this, people managed to make time to enjoy snacks from the pot luck buffet and socialize as well.  I failed on both of those actions, but I don't think anyone minded.

Eventually, as all good parties do, the crowds started to dwindle.  As the Run Club Director and a few of us stragglers cleaned up, we celebrated a successful event... and then parted ways.

I was amused that I hardly even made it to my car to leave and already those who could not attend were on Facebook clamoring for photos... and those who did attend were bragging about their awesome swag:

Several people were promising to post photos online (and in fact did later, the post event album already boasts almost 300 snap shots), but I didn't have time for that.  I had to go home and reorganize my medal rack.  I mean, I HAVE to feature the medal of my very own selection front and center on my display ... right?

Don't worry, I'll post updated medal rack photos in a few weeks ... once my race season officially ends.  For now, at least you have all the above to enjoy!

And that's the story of how race bib #52 joined my collection, and how I became a "race director" for a day.  Here's to another race soon... and maybe even another race director role, too!!


  1. Great costumes, pics, and bling!!!! The hot dog is especially adorable. How did you enjoy your first stint as a race director? It looks like the festivities were a blast. I think you'd do well if you chose to go this direction in a future career change. =)

    On a side note - 3.15 miles in 34:57 is actually an 11:06 per-mile pace, not 12:25. Am I missing something?

    1. Race directing was a little nerve wracking!! But I loved it. As for a future career... maybe if I became a stay at home wife and didn't have to worry about pay. LOL!

      You're right, I just fixed the timing a little while ago. I was working off the watch split (which was short due to my GPS issues). It should be about 11 minute miles.