On Saturday I ran the St. Aloysius Gator Gallop 5K. This was the 11th year for this annual race in Yoder, Indiana — which is a very small town just south of Fort Wayne. The course is an out and back on a country road. The majority of the course is gravel/dirt.
The race starts at 7 p.m. and is one of the few evening races offered in our area, in fact this was the first time I have ever run an evening race. It was about 88 degrees at race start, sun blazing and the air was thick with humidity.
I went into this race knowing it would not be a PR. I hadn’t run in nearly two weeks, but was hoping to get back into the game with a pace around a 10-minute mile. Whenever I finish a 5K in under 30 it’s still an accomplishment by my standards. This did not happen this time. My official time was among my personal worsts. The word I would pick to summarize this course… BRUTAL.
Official Time: 33:34
Per Mile Average Pace: 10:50
Age Group Placing (F 20-29): 5/10
Overall Placing: 62/120
Pre-Race — And naive
• I was happy to get back into the running game. It’s been too long. And so far my knee is feeling great.
• The post-race fare was respectable. Cold water at the race finish and then inside an air-conditioned gymnasium there was more water, bananas, goldfish crackers and pretzels. There were also trophies for finishers — including trophies for first through third place in each age group. Definitely a step up from a ribbon. The only “swag” for runners was a cotton T-Shirt. No, I did not Photoshop the color. The design is fine though and I like the running scripture. For a $12 entry fee I can’t complain.
• I’m almost tempted to classify this as a trail run. It’s basically all gravel/dirt country road. The gravel is not matted down so you are struggling to keep your ankles straight the whole race. I was about 1/4 mile in when I already was saying “What the heck am I doing out here?” It was so enticing to want to walk, especially seeing the other walkers. My only walk was during the water stop on the turnaround where I basically walked about 10 steps as I sipped the water.
• Performance-wise my body held up. The only issue I had was once I got to the finish my left quad tied up. Charley horse? I was kind of freaking out initially. The husband told me to walk it out. It’s still a little strained feeling today. I want to say I lightly pulled the muscle maybe? I have no idea how it happened as I’ve never had any quad issues and did a thorough stretch and warm up.
I am literally running next to a semi here. The start/finish is on a main artery going into Fort Wayne.
The husband tried to catch my finish. At least the backside looked good.
• Along with the gravel came dust. And on top of that the wafting of manure as you run through this country road.
• The cherry on top was a complete lack of air on the backside of the course. The husband (who also got a personal worst) put it best: “My lungs were on fire!”
I made it. Looking tough.
I would recommend the Gator Gallop in two instances: 1) You like to be beaten up by a race. 2) You are a walker or brand new runner and are afraid to come in last place. I would recommend the race to walkers because it is advertised as a run/walk. I know often times folks want to walk a 5K but it turns out to be all runners. I would say at least a third of the folks at this race decided to walk.
The only reason I can picture running this race again would be if I was desperate for a race the last weekend of July, or if I decided to return in an attempt to show the gator who the (wo)man is.