Gandy Dancer Fly In Trail Run 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 14:04/mile
As you know by now, my husband is a hobbyist pilot, and his parents own a cabin in Northern Wisconsin. So, of course any race that's tied to aviation and hosted nearby said cabin is a natural for me to participate in, right?
Just go ahead and queue participation year #3 for this race, following previous completions in 2013 and 2015.
Let's get right to it.
In honor of my nephew attempting this as his first "real" 5K, where he was going to be keeping pace with adults, for this year's race my sister and I went all out and bought some new costumes. Well ... if all out means spending $10 on a crappy (yet surprisingly well made) stewardess costume, and a pilot shirt and hat for my nephew.
So yes, it's true. After several years of my nephew participating in various 5Ks that we all attended, for some reason this year he decided he wanted to graduate from participating (walking with his dad) to actually RACING. Hooray!
Knowing this would be a pretty big bite to chew for my nephew, who hasn't done any training to cover a 5K distance, my sister and I decided to once again use the 2/1 interval function on my GPS watch.
That meant that after checking in and getting our shirts:
We headed over to the race start area and began talking to my nephew about how pacing worked and how to listen for my watch ... which apparently we had plenty of time to discuss, despite our arrival at 7:11 for a race that had a check-in closing of 7:15 and a gun time of 7:30.
If you didn't catch my subtle gripe there, here it comes: I'm not sure what it is about this race, but they seem to have a hard time getting it started on time.
Ok, ok. In all honestly, is a late start that big of a deal? Well ... not really. But since this is technically a fly-in pancake breakfast with a 5K tacked onto it, we have family that does not run this event and instead meets us at the finish so we can eat together. And each of the three years that we've tried to coordinate their arrival with our finish, we are always at least 15-20 minutes off in that coordination. I know 15-20 minutes seems minor, but it becomes pretty difficult to manage when the ones waiting to eat are ages 5 and under.
No to mention, on the front end, no one wants to dilly dally around a 5K race start when the biting gnats and flies are out in droves. Blech! I always forget how nasty the bugs are at this one. Maybe next year I'll finally remember to use some bug spray.
Anyway, to be fair, the race wasn't TERRIBLY late in their start this year, and soon enough we were being told about the race's new course - an out and back. (Did I call it last year or what?! LOL!)
After a few additional brief words by the race coordinator, we all bunched up to the start ... and then we were off!!
Running with someone who doesn't understand pacing is always kind of a challenge, and this race was no exception. In fact, it may have been even more challenging, as my nephew is a tad competitive and always bolts out the gate 10x faster then he ought to. I doubt you'd be surprised to hear then, that between my sister and I, a good portion of this race was spent ... er ... coaching my nephew.
Oh to be 8 years old with the energy and focus to match, lol!
To my nephew's credit, we managed along quite well for the first mile despite a start on dewy grass with a few muddy spots. We did have several conversations, however, reminding him that it didn't matter if we were first or last to finish, and that we do this race for FUN.
Plus, there's the whole manners thing and not pointing out that someone else is likely to finish last ...
The second mile of the run became a tad more challenging, as my nephew was beginning to peter out. And to be fair, he had good reason to be tiring - this portion of the course transitioned onto the Gandy Dancer, which is a crushed gravel trail that offers little to no sun protection on the section we ran. Being in direct sun on a gravel trail that hugs a giant asphalt landing strip isn't exactly ... cool and comfortable. Heh.
Luckily, before things got too sweaty, we hit the turn around point which offered a water stop. Giving my nephew an extended window of recovery, we all partook in the water and an extra long walk break.
Trying to motivate my nephew to keep going, my sister and I talked up the pancake breakfast at the finish and reminded him of the ice cream that was included. Lots of cheering commenced. I'm sure we ended up looking somewhat ... odd ... to the couple out for a leisurely bike ride on the Gandy Trail.
I mean ... two grown women dressed as Pan-Am Stewardesses, with an 8 year old "pilot" in tow, running down a trail yelling "DO IT FOR THE ICE CREAM!!!!" ?
Yep. Totally normal. LOL!
While the ice cream chants didn't really seem to be encouraging my nephew, the good news was we were just about done with the run. With less than half a mile left, we were back on the grassy stretch that lead to the finish line. End in site, my nephew perked up a little. Then, with a little egging on from his mom (my sister), he sprinted to the finish and we were done.
But dang, we were disappointed to find at the finish that they really skimped out on the breakfast this year. After all that cheering ... no ice cream!! And no cheese slices, either!! The breakfast only included 2 pancakes and a slice of ham. Kind of disappointing. And to be honest, if I was paying for the breakfast out of pocket, I don't know that I would have shelled out $5 for it.
Later I found out why the breakfast's offerings had been toned down for 2016, or at least a possible reason as to why, anyway. I heard a rumor that the fly-in might be struggling a bit and trying to save costs. Apparently when this event first started, it was simply a fly in breakfast that attracted lots of pilots to stop in Siren for breakfast on the way to the infamous Oshkosh air show. But now, since Siren is continually making this event less about the breakfast and more about other things, many pilots are declining to attend.
Fortunately, the 5K's not the problem. The real problem is that most hobby pilots want to fly in, have a leisurely breakfast, and then take off. Now, with the airport shutting down from about 11am - 2pm for their air show, the hobby pilots can't do that anymore.
While I understand the trade-offs for the above inconvenience, I'm not sure if it's worth the sacrifice, since there's hardly any hobbyist planes to see anymore while you sit and eat. And that's what made this breakfast so fun in years past - being able to sit along the runway and watch planes come and go as you ate your pancakes ... and ice cream.
Even parked in the grass there were significantly fewer hobbyist planes, which was kind of a bummer for the kids - they like to walk around after breakfast and check out all the different aircraft.
At least we got to see this one:
It seemed like even the other displays at this event were less flashy than years past. But, on the up side, they once again had the UFO bounce house, which was still a hit with the kids.
After breakfast and some bouncy time, we decided we had enough and headed home. This doesn't bode well for the air show in my mind, since this is the second year in a row we've opted to skip the show for other things, and I feel like that speaks volumes to the draw of the breakfast versus the draw of the air show.
Ugh. I hate to be kind of down in this post, but I'm not sure what I think about things for this event moving forward.
I guess my only comment would be that you can't be everything to everyone ... and maybe it's time for the event organizers of this fly in to figure out what this event is really geared at. Because if you're losing the hobby pilots who fly in and make the breakfast fun ... and the breakfast is where you're money is coming from to fund the event ... maybe you need to go back to those roots a little? I don't know.
Man - this got heavy at the end. I didn't intend for that to happen. I mean, look at the costumes we wore to this thing. LOL!
Let's redirect this conversation so I can end on a more positive note.
Remember in last year's recap for this race I posted this?
Well, guess what Santa brought me at Christmas this past year?
So yeah - my sister and niece put that to good use this weekend.
She even informed my sister that the hot dog could use some ketchup. LOL!
Oh! I put my floatie research from my previous post to good use this weekend, too.
And that's the story of how race bib #72 joined my collection. Here's to another race soon ... which might finally include me running with my son!