The Feaster Five Thanksgiving 5 Miler and 5K celebrated their 30th running this Thanksgiving!
A few remarkable observations provided by The Feaster Five:
• We had a remarkable number of entrants…9,966! That is an increase of more than 10% from last year, and that happened when the number of entrants in most races is falling by 10%.
• More amazing was the 97% of folks who registered picked up their race bibs and hoodies. Typical pick-up rate is 87%.
• Our 5 mile champion, Ruben Senca, won for the 5th time….and that is a record.
• Who else ran? Folks from 41 states, 7 countries, ages that went from 1 to 93. Women, you ruled again this year with 53% of the field.
• Despite the “pinch point” 3/4 mile into the race, we managed to get you all safely back to the finish line with minimal congestion. The “Walkers Lane” once again kept the flow moving, and everyone safe.
• We can be very proud of our kids and their parents who are encouraging a healthy, fitness oriented lifestyle. We had 570 kids run the Fun Run, and a whopping 776 kids 12 and under run the 5K!
Some of this success may be attributed to this being the 30th anniversary, but I think a great deal of credit goes to the organizers who have continued to provide a safe and well organized event for 30 years.
Runners do not return to poorly managed events.
Feaster Five Thanksgiving 5 Miler Travels
I decided to run this race in 2016 because of it’s rich history. On Thanksgiving there are so many races to choose from. I absolutely enjoyed the race I ran in 2015, but wanted to try this classic 5 miler in 2016.
Last year I went by my self and didn’t expect to run into anyone I knew. But I ran into club-mate Mike Sikkema as we both wandered around before the race.
This year I drove up with my running buddy Derm Cahill. He parked at my house around 6 AM, and we drove up to Andover together. Andover isn’t too far, but I hate driving long distance to a race by myself.
Derm picked up our bibs and hoodies on Wednesday, so all we had to do was find a place to park.
Within 45 minutes we were parked on a Riverina Road where we could almost see the start. We walked up to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee and donut and enjoyed the warm sitting area.
They had signs on the tables limiting us to 15 minutes. They also had signs reserving the rest room to paying customers. The crew had little to do as most people had not arrived yet. They were having a great time behind the counter and left us alone.
After about 20 minutes, one of the employees politely told us we had used up our time. We had, but there was no one else there. We didn’t want to give the guy a hard time, so we went back to the car.
It was just above freezing, so the walk back to the car was brisk.
We sat and talked and figured out how many layers would get us through this thing in relative comfort. We both opted out of jackets or the famed hoodie provided by the race. Two layers it would be.
With that figured out we made a quick trip to the porta potties. It was definitely chill in just our running clothes. The line was short and we were back to the car in no time.
Since the race began at 8:30 and we could almost see the start, we stayed in the car until 8:20.
Running Feaster Five Thanksgiving 5 Miler
Our walk to the crowd was short. Derm was dealing with several cracked ribs and didn’t really want to push the pace. I was kind of tapering for Honolulu, so I was okay with just getting in a good run.
As we moved through the crowd, we kept finding dogs and strollers. I kept moving away from the walking lane off to the left, but still we had dogs and strollers popping up. One poor dog looked scared to death!
We were able to hear the National Anthem and most of us took off our hats and looked for a flag to admire.
They said the race started but we were all standing around. As I looked towards the start line I could see people moving, but they seemed so far away! After 5 minutes we were still standing there freezing our asses off, but everyone was also laughing and joking.
We’re runners, it takes a bit more than 9,000 runners and freezing cold temps to push our buttons. Cut a porta-pottie line and that’s a different story!
We did not cross the starting mats until 12 minutes after the race began! Thank god for chip timing.
The race goes up hill soon after the start. In the first mile we went up 106 feet and crossed a bridge under construction. They warned us of this choke point, but there was little we could do.
The first mile was nothing but congestion and weaving between walkers and runners who placed themselves way ahead of where they should have been. So weave we did.
We took turns blitzkreiging our way through the crowd, even on the bridge. Even with all of these challenges, mile one chimed in at 9:14. Not too far off of our goal 9 minute pace.
At about 1.5 mile we took a left onto Morton Street. I told Derm that the winding roads were just beginning. After a 100 feet or so we took another left onto Bartlett Street. After about a quarter mile we took a right onto Chestnut Street by “The Park.”
Before we passed the park we hit mile two at 8:24. Our average pace was now 8:28 and I felt much better. Derm was holding up well and I was the one holding us back. Since Derm was fine, I decided to run as hard as I wanted to.
At about mile 2.25 we took a left and then a right and then a left onto Washington Ave. After a quarter mile we took a left onto Elm Street.
From Elm we took a right onto Maple Avenue and shortly thereafter hit mile three at 8:12 and our average pace was down to 8:14. We were way beyond our 9 minute goal, but we both felt good.
We took a quick left onto Walnut Ave and then joined the 5K runners on High Street.
The 5 milers had one side of the street and the 5K runners and walkers had the left side. Occasionally a volunteer was stationed to tell us to stay in our lanes. This was welcomed as a few times a 5K walker would straggle into our lane.
By this point the 5 milers were sorted and many of us were in full race mode.
Mile four was mostly down hill with a 99 foot elevation loss but we only managed an 8:23 mile. Still ahead of schedule, but we were dealing with congestion again.
We had been running with an MVS runner and he over heard us bitching about the 5K walkers wondering into our lane. No duecheyness, but we owned the 5 mile lane. WTF were these people doing?
As seasoned runners we dealt with it, but we exchanged several WTF looks as clueless folks got in our way. It was nice to find a fellow traveler.
At about 4.25 miles we took a left onto Rt. 133. This is a major commuter route to cut from Rt 93 to 495. I never found it to be much help, but many commuters do.
We were now on the home stretch with under a mile to go.
Derm and I decided to kick it in and see what we could do. There was a slight decline most of the way and we started passing people. Nothing crazy, but there were 5 milers who were walking and many who had either gone out too fast or were just not prepared.
Finishing Feaster Five Thanksgiving 5 Miler
Five miles is an odd distance for most of us. 5K or 3.1 mile runs take place almost every weekend. In the old days many races in The US were denominated in miles. I recall running the 50 yard dash or the 440 yard race in gym class.
While most of Merica still measure everything in miles, us runners use kilometers.
When you are used to running 3.1 of 6.2 miles (5K or 10K) a 5 mile run can really throw you for a loop. A 5K is a comfortable race for many of us. We know how to pace and when to kick. A 10K is more challenging, but it is a familiar distance with it’s own strategy.
A 5 mile race is 8K. Somewhere between a 5K and 10K. It’s hard to plan for, but the unfamiliarity is fun.
When we got to 3.7 miles we couldn’t believe we were at the beginning of the end. But it was still a little early to kick. So we tried to hold our pace for another half mile or so.
When we got onto Rt 133 we decided to give it a go. Derm and I traded places on point almost instinctively, we knew when to follow and when to lead.
We ran down the edge of the pavement and we squeezed between runners to make our way. When ever I looked over my shoulder I could see Derm’s purple singlet. I’m sure he did the same and saw my bright yellow BAA 10K shirt.
As we ran along we decided to finish together. I knew that both of us could have some explosive speed in the final few hundred yards. I told Derm I was fine with that but he hadn’t better run ahead in the final 100 yards. He agreed not to and we pushed ahead.
We crushed the last mile at a 7:34 pace. This despite the increased congestion as we headed up Oak Street to the finish and the uphill at the end. We passed many runners on the final uphill.
We actually managed an identical finish time of 42:03 for a pace of 8:28.
This was almost my exact time from 2016!
Apre Feaster Five Thanksgiving 5 Miler
After the finish line we emptied into a large parking lot. Having been here before I knew where to go. I saw the large trailer full of pies at the other end of the parking lot and headed in that direction.
Along the way we found the water table and the food tables. Just the basics: bananas, bagels and chips. We grabbed some water and chips and continued our pie quest!
We got to the pie line in no time, got our pie and moved along.
It was getting cold so we wanted to get to the car quickly. We found the exit and headed towards the car.
It was an easy exit from Andover and in no time we were on 495 South headed for home.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend and got to spend some time with family and friends. The Holiday Season is here!
Run well my Friends!