My second race of the day on Saturday, October 13 was the Energizer Night Race 5K, starting and finishing in Ceperley field at 2nd Beach in Stanley Park. Parking was even worse than last year, and myself and a lot of others ended up having to park in a lot a mile from the start, but since it was after 6 PM on a weekend night, at least it was free.
I ended up jogging there with a bunch of other people, so at least we didn't have to worry about doing our warmup. There was quite the party atmosphere happening when we reached the starting area, with the field full of tents, and a huge stage set up, music playing, and the announcer keeping a constant prattle going. It was pitch dark and everyone was wearing their Energizer head lamps, which were mandatory for running the race. The racers for the 10K were all lined up in the chute, over a thousand of them, and they were quite a sight as they took off at 6:50.
We were scheduled to begin the 5K at 7:05, so I hung around the chute. I'd finished 11th overall in the race last year, rated being up near the front at the start, and wanted to make sure I didn't get trapped farther back. They had pace bunnies and the announcer was calling out their finishing times and telling people who matched these to go to where they were in the field.
There was only one other fellow lingering in the chute entrance with me, and I asked him what time he was shooting for. In an Italian accent he told me 18 minutes, but that the course wasn't 5Ks, maybe 4.8 at most. I assumed he'd run the course and measured it on his GPS, so that's how he knew this. Soon they called us into the chute and we went to the front of the pack. I stayed right at the front, because there were none of the usual young greyhounds jockeying for position like in other races. There were a couple of small kids with us though, and when the gun went off one of them raced ahead of me and kept going very fast.
The Italian guy and a few others ran up ahead as we exited the field and headed up onto some paths through the park, and the young fellow stayed in front of me as we raced along. I came up and ran alongside him, and he managed to keep pace with me, and I dropped back behind him for about 100 meters, and then when we hit a straightaway I sped up and passed him for good. Still, I couldn't shake him. I started to pass some of the other runners who were slowing up already as we hit the seawall, only about 2 Ks into the race. The odd one would try and keep pace but then would drop back, but this kid was amazing, he just kept on my tail!
We hit the halfway turnaround, which wasn't as far as last year, and headed back with hoards of runners heading towards us on the opposite side of the paths. We ran through a tunnel and I heard someone yell, "Look at the little guy go!" I managed to drop everyone I passed, except this one kid, who I later found out was a nine year old from Perth, Ontario. Soon we heard the announcer and all the noise from what he called the "Circus zone", and knew we were heading in toward the finish. I'd finally put a little distance between myself and my young pursuer, but not much, only beating him by less than 6 seconds in spite of sprinting in as fast as I possibly could!
His mother was waiting for him and told him how proud she was of him, and I commented on how fast he was. She said "He sure is, especially for a nine year old!", and I thought he was fast no matter what age he was, quite amazing! The Italian guy and another guy were wating there when I crossed the finish line, and he told me I'd finished 4th. He then came up and said that they had my time as being faster than him, when he'd finished ahead of me, and I told him not to worry, I'd let them know when the time came.
A volunteer gave me a bottle of water, and I went over to where the food was. You got a large cup of vegetable soup, a choice of fruit, a fibre one bar, and a large bag of Werther's caramels. I ate everything except the caramels, and then went looking to find out if any results were posted yet. Craig Asselstine, who I'd beat to win the Jog For The Bog 5K, came up and shook my hand. I told him I'd finished 4th, and he told me he'd run the 5K with his girlfriend so he'd only jogged it, and they were heading out now, but we'd be seeing each other at a future race.
After giving away a number of draw prizes they finally started the awards, doing the 10K overall ones first. Then they came to our male 5K overalls, and the announcer called out 3 names, including mine. I went up onstage and told him I was Gordon Flett but I'd finished 4th. I looked around for the Italian guy but didn't see him, and the announcer directed me offstage to talk to the woman in charge of timing. There were a couple of guys in their 20s who'd walked up, with dumb grins on their faces, apparently claiming to both be winners. The woman said it was cool, they'd gotten it straightened out, but I was thinking that neither of these guys had finished ahead of me.
I walked over to the tent where a young woman was just posting the 5K results, and I looked and it said that I'd finished 2nd overall in the race. In this race if you win an overall prize you're not eligible for an age group award, which I totally agree with, but that meant I would now get nothing, even though I'd smoked everyone else in my age group by at least 10 minutes. I went back to the stage, and then a woman came up to me, and said "I just wanted to let you know that I was the one who made the mistake.", and I'm thinking "What mistake?", and then she explains that she's Javier's wife, and she was the one who told him that he was 3rd and I was 4th. It turned out that the one guy who came in first was actually the 10K winner, as they'd started 15 minutes before us, and she didn't know who the other guy was, possibly a bystander. Now the Italian fellow, Javier, appeared beside her and told me he'd won the race, and I'd come in second.
I now went up to the announcer to explain what happened, and the woman who I'd spoken to before was standing nearby, so he took me to see her. I explained everything and she asked if I was awarded anything from the stage, and I told her no. She walked up onstage where there were a few winner's baskets, not everybody'd claimed theirs, but mine was still sitting there. She brought it to me and seemed to be totally unfazed by the mishap. She and the announcer were super nice about everything, it was quite a zoo being such a big event. Looking at the posted overall results http://www.winningtime.ca/12/12energizervan/oall5k.txt I realize who the 2 young guys were, and they'd finished 6th and 7th.
After we came in and were conversing on the finish line they had us clear the area and head into the darkness up on the field to be out of the way for incoming runners, so I'm guessing the young guys came in and thought they'd podiumed when they saw nobody else there. They'd apparently told them nicely to get lost, but I'd missed everything having already walked away.
All I'd missed was the photo op, and it was now sinking in that I'd actually finished second in the entire race of 505 participants. My time was 18:37. but unfortunately I can't count that as a 5K personal best as my GPS showed only 4.69 on it after I crossed the finish line. It's a shame as I would have recorded a PB if the course was the proper length, as it was super flat with no hills, but that can wait!
It was getting quite cold out so I headed home, and when I got there discovered I'd gotten quite a haul of Energizer stuff: giant pink bunny slippers complete with sunglasses, another headlamp, a flashlight, a nightlight, and a USB charger, plus tons of batteries, both regular and rechargable, with a battery charger. And a nice medal too! Here's the page with all the result links: http://www.winningtime.ca/energizer/vancouver.html
So it was a great day, with one race to go for the weekend, the Strachan Hartley 5K in North Vancouver at 9:30 in the morning.