Event: 2015 Baltimore Gold Jacket 5K
Event Date: July 12, 2015
Event Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Why I decided to run this race.
After reading Steve’s review of the Gold Jacket 5K in Canton, Ohio, I knew I had to have that bling! When the Baltimore version popped up in my weekly email list of “races near you” I signed my husband and me up right away.
Getting there/the lead-up to the race
I hurt my heel during the Arbutus Firecracker 10K the week prior to this race and I had a 12.5 miler on my training plan the day before the race.
Plus, I wasn’t even sure we’d go through with the race after one of our dogs unexpectedly passed away a few days earlier. So the plan for this was just a nice easy run—no real pressure or speed goals.
The race Expo
Packet pick-up was supposed to take place the day before the race and the morning of the race in the parking lot of Morgan State University in Baltimore. This was also supposed to serve as the start/finish of the race. However, a few hours before packet pick-up was scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon, we received an urgent email stating that “issues” with the university caused both the expo and the race start/finish to be moved. Uhhhh…that’s kind of ominous.
We opted to just get there early the morning of the race to get our bibs. After parking we walked over to a covered patio and got our bibs and shirt. It was still pretty early so the line at the bib table was just a few people deep. We got our stuff and then took a picture at the “finishers” backdrop (expecting there would be a long line after the race…which there was).
After hitting the port-a-potties (of which there did seem to be enough for all the racers; it was a fairly small race) we still had 45 minutes to kill. We thought we’d go back up to the covered patio and take pictures behind the life-size gold jacket cardboard cut-out. But when we arrived we discovered that guest of honor Floyd Little (he played for the Denver Broncos back in the 60s and 70s) was up there so we got in line to take a picture with him instead.
It’s clear that most of your race fee goes to the SMO. The only other swag we got was a cotton t-shirt. The design was the same as the Canton race, but the color scheme was different. All the shirts were unisex so it’s unlikely I’ll wear it for anything other than chores because it probably won’t fit me well, but it’s not a bad shirt by any means.
In a shocking move, my husband and I chose not to dress according to any theme. A lot of runners wore their favorite NFL team’s jersey and colors, but that didn’t even come to mind when I got dressed. Plus, my husband is a Steelers fan and there’s a bit of danger wearing Pittsburgh gear in public in Baltimore. The best outfit I saw on the course was worn by our local juggling runner, who was sporting full Joe Flacco gear and had non-deflated footballs to juggle.
I dressed for comfort for this race: Sparkle skirt, navy blue Nike dri-fit tank, black Adidas sports bra, teal Bondi Band headband, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 shoes, Garmin Forerunner 620 and Gymboss interval timer, and Nathan handheld hydration bottle.
The race organizers seemed to have a lot of trouble getting everything in place for this race. While that’s not necessarily unusual for a first-year event, it kind of seemed like everything that could go wrong, did.
With the last-minute change in expo and start/finish location, it meant that we lost the massive parking lot where we all would have parked. Runners had to either find street parking or figure out how to get onto the grass lot at the elementary school where we were staging. But first, you had to figure out how to get to the new location—the way the police car was parked across road seemed to indicate that you couldn’t drive down the way you needed to take to get to the school. Eventually the officer started letting people through and we got to the new staging location. But the organizers hadn’t really accounted for everyone to be parking there so we were left to create parking rows on our own—something people aren’t really very good at.
Bib pick-up and the meet-and-greet with Floyd Little seemed to be going OK, but then the generator cut out and the inflatable arch over the start/finish line came crashing down. All in all these were minor issues that got resolved relatively quickly, but I’m sure they made for a very stressful morning for the organizers.
Along the course
The change in expo and start/finish location clearly resulted in a course change. My guess is that we would have run from the university campus, through a neighborhood, around Lake Montibello, and then back to the campus. I don’t know if this was the original route since it was never posted, but it makes the most sense. Instead, the school we started at sat right on the lake and we ended up just doing two laps around Lake Montibello.
It is a flat course with pretty views and dedicated running/biking lanes, so it wasn’t a bad route for a last-minute substitution. But it also has no shade, so as the sun rose it got hot pretty quick. It also meant that the leaders had to fight their way through the slower runners on the second lap. There was one water stop (just water) that we passed twice. Race Icon. Floyd Little also high-fived every runner as we crossed the finish line, which was pretty cool.
The whole reason I ran this was for the SMO and it didn’t disappoint.
It is huge and heavy and probably the best bling you’ll find for a 5K.
The post-race experience
After picking up the obligatory banana, water, and cookie, my husband and I left. I was getting a headache from the heat and needed to cool down, but the awards ceremony wasn’t going to start for 15 or 20 minutes and I couldn’t find shade. So we hopped in the car, cranked up the A/C, and headed home.
I didn’t bring my iPod for this race since my husband and I ran together. But the speakers from the start/finish line carried over much of the lake. They played an interesting mix of the normal pop/dance music often heard at races, and inspiring instrumental pieces that sounded like movie soundtracks but I couldn’t quite place them.
Looking back now
All in all, this wasn’t a bad event. I think it’s a fun concept and it clearly inspired a lot of families to get out and run together. I think the organizers have some work to do for next year to address the problems we experienced, but those issues didn’t really detract from the race. I wish that I had been feeling a little better both physically and emotionally, which probably would’ve helped me enjoy the race a little more, but I had enough fun that I would consider doing it again.
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