Today's race was the Paavo Nurmi Run 5K at Burnaby Lake Park, as part of the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival. Paavo Nurmi was a nine-time Olympic Medal winner known as the Flying Finn. There were also 3K and 10K races, with us and the 10Kers starting off at 9 AM, followed by the 3Kers 10 minutes later.
Local legend Sigge Bjorklund started us off with a five second countdown, and we were off! We headed straight out for a couple of hundred meters, and then turned right, going down a wide gravel path through the woods for a few hundred meters. A few guys blasted out really fast, and I stayed behind them for only a few seconds before slowing down a bit and settling in with the second pack. One young woman who I had seen looking very fast doing her warmups was running ahead of me, and she slowly pulled away. We ran over a very short bridge, and then made another turn onto a narrower trail, with the path meandering now through the forest.
The pack started to spread out, and another young woman passed me, but I overtook her right away, and managed to stay ahead of her. She dogged me for awhile but I gradually pulled away until I didn't hear her behind me anymore. I later found out she was running the 10K, so that's why she had slowed up, and as it turned out she won the women's 10K race!
We zigzagged through the woods and then came to a point where the races separated, with the 10K going to the right and onward, and we headed to the right and on our way back to the start/finish line. A volunteer yelled at us as we came up asking what race we were in and sent us down the appropriate path, and I heard a guy yell " 5K!" after I was a few yards down the path, so I knew someone was right on my tail. This kept me going fast and I still expected someone to pass me, but then I surmised that everyone else was just as tired as I was.
The young woman who had pulled away from me before came into view, and soon I was right behind her. I stayed back for a little bit as she sped up, but then I decided I was going fast enough that I should pass her. As I came up she stayed side by side with me for a few seconds, but then fell back. I could still hear her behind me for awhile longer, but then we turned and hit the long straightaway going back, and I pulled away for good. We had a lot of shade going through the woods, but there were some stretches where we were exposed to the sun beating down on us, and when you're already sweating up a storm this was most unpleasant. This happened a couple of times on the straightaway, so I was now just pushing on and wishing the race would be over soon!
At last I rounded the final turn and saw the finish banner up ahead, and I legged it in and over the line. I shook hands with a couple of the race organizers and a few runners who'd finished ahead of me, and went to get some water. There was Gatorade and coffee to drink too, plus bananas, oranges, timbits, and donuts to eat. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade, and a couple of banana pieces, but since there weren't a lot of Timbits and donuts I just had one of each and left the rest for the other runners. I waited until I was cooled off before later grabbing a cup of coffee.
The young woman came in not long after I finished, the winner of the woman's 5K, and I congratulated her and she thanked me for helping her keep her pace up, and I said the same to her.
After awhile Dave Frilund came in, winner of the 10K race at 38 minutes and change, and then there was nobody else until George Sojka and a younger fellow a few minutes later. George was 3rd master behind me last year, and had kept pushing me the whole race. This time he outraced the young guy coming down the stretch, just beating him at the line. I'd already congratulated Dave and now I did the same with George.
A woman had come up after I'd finished my race and took my picture and my name. She said she was with the West Coast News, which I took to be a local paper but is actually the newsletter of the Vancouver Finlandia Club. Another woman came up and did an interview with Dave, and I went over and waited at the finish line for Rob Daniel to finish. The 10Kers had to turn right and go around a 300 meter loop before coming back and crossing the line, and I got a good shot of Rob turning the corner, plus one of him coming in to the finish.
Soon all the competitors were in, and the awards started. They had a real podium and everything! First they did the kids awards for the 3K, and then for the 5K, under 20, 20-39, and over 40 (masters). I thought maybe I'd won my category, but Mikhail Titov, who Rob and myself thought had run the 10K, had actually run the 5K, and he was the winner by about 3 minutes. Alvin Chow finished 3rd, we all shook hands, and George took a great picture of us before we stepped off the podium, happily wearing our medals..
Next up were the 10K awards, and Dave, George and the 3rd place guy were quite happy to get their medals too! So were the women!
Now it was time to wrap things up, and some went off to the festival. Everyone seemed to have had a very good time, a run well done! As I'm running a half marathon on Sunday, I said goodbye to George, Dave, Rob, and Sigge & his crew, and headed home. No results yet but I'll send them out when they're up.
My next race is the half marathon at the Scotiabank Half & 5K, tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM, starting at UBC Thunderbird Stadium and ending in Stanley Park.