This is not a new phenomenon. The " G.B.S. St. Patrick's Day 5 Mile" was always the first race of the year here, run down Summit Avenue (which at that time had no other races!) It was where I set two personal records, beating world record-holders and Olympians. It grew to about 6000 runners. It also changed to 8K, changed course to an out-and-back rather than point-to-point, changed race directors (Gary Bjorklund sold his store, which had a few names and owners over the years), changed date to a week later in hopes of better weather, changed name to The Human Race and now Irish Run and changed entry fees, awards, etc.and is now down to 600 runners and is only one of at least five races in St. Paul in March.
It was a favorite of mine and now is not. Every step along the way they thought they were improving the race, but they lost the huge crowds and they also lost those like me who raced before the large crowds came. They lost everything that made the race special - not always their fault, by the way; the St. Paul Pioneer Press used to print the name and time of every finisher, but stopped devoting several pages of print to it by 1990.
Recently, the Rice Street Mile in St. Paul became the Midsummer Mile and moved from Rice Street to the State Fairgrounds. It was an unique race, held in conjunction with a neighborhood festival, with a downhill finish leading to fast times and strategic racing. The race director felt the changes improve it, but it's lost everything that made it unique.
What I've found is that my favorite races reflect the personalities of the race directors. While I think the spring and fall Superior Trail Races are still fine events, I preferred the spring races when Gretchen and Mike Perbix directed them and the fall ones when Larry Pederson directed them; it's just a matter of the low-key laid back approach (especially of Larry) that I liked - John Storkamp can be a bit intense.
Larry still directs a race, the In Yan Teopa 10 Mile, which is tomorrow. Wish I could be there.
|From the DNR website for Frontenac. The course does have a flat section or two!|
So what's your favorite race and what makes it special?