When: Sunday, December 10, 2017
Where: Montclair, NJ
Social media can sometimes be a waste of time with nothing good coming out of it. In other instances, it can be useful. I keep tracks of races by regularly checking the calendars of time-management companies or race producers, mostly for the Run Brooklyn program that PPTC supports. I thought I know a lot about the races in the New York City metro area, but I had never heard about the 5K Doughnut Run put on by the Montclair Bread Company in New Jersey. In a post in the PPTC Facebook group fellow runner Shana Skaletsky alerted me to a contest the Bread Company was hosting. Make something donut-inspired when you run, something right up my alley! I made the “Just donut” run and waited for the result to be announced and finally learned that I won two complimentary entries and a box of donuts! Naturally, Shana got the second entry as if not for her I wouldn’t know about the race.
The night before the race I had the fear of not being able to find parking near the start. Or being stuck in traffic somehow and not make it on time. I think it’s called deeenessphobia. It turned out my worry was groundless. I left my house really early, picked up Shana, then made the trip across state line to Montclair, New Jersey. Shana knows the area well and that helped a lot because even though I had GPS guiding me, most of the trip was on local roads. We arrived at our destination early. Even though some roads were already closed, I was able to park the car mere two blocks away from the Bread Company. Packet pickup was quick and painless, and we had enough time to wait in the car. Along with a nice long-sleeved tech shirt, we also got a sack containing a water bottle, a fanny pack, and coupons/flyers for local businesses.
About 15 minutes to 8 am, we started walking to the start line. The race had a cap of 2300+ and it seemed everyone showed up. Walnut Street was already packed with participants. Shana and I found our way to the back of the mass. The national anthem was performed by a saxophonist then off we went, slowly at first. It snowed the night before but the roads were mostly cleared. For the first half-mile, I mostly walked. There were many people and it was very difficult to actually run, not that I am a fast runner. I am not used to running with people pushing strollers and had the fear of being tripped by them. I believe at least a few were double-sized too, so they really took up a wide swath of the road. If you can get behind a fast stroller then it’s like infantry crouching behind armored vehicle, the stroller creates a path for you to follow. Otherwise you just have to try to avoid them.
Maybe it was because of the cold temperature, cheering along the course was sparse. There were a few patches of ice here and there but volunteers along the course pointed them out. There were two water stations, with munchkins (doughnut holes), but I opted to skip them both to improve my time a bit. As usual, the last mile seemed to take forever to cover. It was extra challenging that the last few yards involved an uphill.
So far the race was good, sure it was a bit crowded in the beginning but it was a fun run so I didn’t mind it too much. Things went awry right after the finish mat. Instead of a long chute for finishers to spread out, there was a sharp turn left to get medals and refreshment, plus whatever the sponsors gave out. It was so crowded I didn’t know what the “line” was for. It was not much of a line, just a mass of people standing in place, not moving. In the cold. Eventually I was able to squeeze onward to get my medal. Next, the line for donuts and small cups of hot chocolate, supposedly, was pretty long too, also barely moving. I decided to not have those donuts and instead went for my prize donuts. Inside the bakery there were boxes of donuts but only for people who pre-ordered them. I only had to find my contact person from the bakery, waited for her to finish conducting the award ceremony, then the dozen of donuts was mine. Time to find Shana, wolfed down a donut or two in the car, then made our exit from the area.
According to official posts on Facebook, half of the volunteers failed to show up. I am sure the no-shows badly impacted the event, but I think what ruined the finish experience was the short space allocated for finish chute, medal chute, and refreshment area. It was basically one city block that the finishers squeezed into. It should be at least three blocks long. Otherwise having more volunteers wouldn’t make any difference. I don’t know how it was done the previous three years, maybe there weren’t that many people. Growing pains, I guess. Fans of the 5K posted many ideas to improve the situation next time. Mine would be to have donuts along the race course. The whole point of the run is to eat donuts. If I don’t have a box of prize donuts waiting for me, I doubt I will do this race again, as I really don’t like waiting around in the cold.