My first impression of this event was a poor one as the start line and festival area looked very sad. In addition at about 5 minutes until start time, there was no sign of the race actually starting. A few minutes later, an announcer got on the mic and attempted to pump up the crowd and kill some time with a dance contest to give away a pair of $150 headphones. He did this, twice, and still, no race start. Finally, at 9:20 he announced the countdown and off we went.
The 5k course was 2.8 miles on my GPS and consisted of 8 obstacles (2 of which weren’t “obstacles” in the traditional sense). There were long stretches with no course markings whatsoever and no volunteers to guide you along. When we left the main festival area after the first major obstacle, the lead pack I was in kept looking at each other and asking if we were going the right way.
Let’s take a moment to talk about volunteers. At successful events, volunteer presence can feel like an army. You feel their enthusiasm everywhere. You’ll see/hear/feel them at registration, bag check, along the course at various obstacles, and of course, the finish line.
At this event, volunteers were few and far between. The Hit and Run 5k volunteers were certainly capable people, there just weren’t many of them. The first real obstacle was a giant foam obstacle. On the side of the obstacle that I ran, I noticed only one volunteer throwing dodge balls at participants. At the only water stop, there were cups and water, yet no volunteer to actually hand it out.
Which way would you go?
The redeeming aspect of this race came from 3 of the 8 total obstacles which were extremely fun. The first of these three was the “Wacking Wall”. This had you walking across a narrow inflatable, and then the wall would wack you in the face “Wipeout” style. At this obstacle, they had 4 or 5 people also flinging dodge balls at you, so it was a great laugh. The next was the Duck Or Dive. Again, a giant wipeout style obstacle that had participants either losing their balance on their own or getting smacked by humungous balls. Either way, 95% of us got wet one way or another. It was somewhere between 34-45 degrees all morning, so getting wet also meant freezing your butt off, but in a good way. The last “obstacle” was giant inflatable balls with a person inside them. Running towards these things and jumping into them was awesome, having them chase you was even better. These last 3 obstacles that I just described were so fun that we actually went back and did them multiple times.
I was asked for feedback from one of the organizers after I finished. I mentioned the lack of course markings and he seemed surprised to hear it. He didn’t seem to understand that even when a dirt course doesn’t change direction, racers need markings and or volunteers to assure us we are going the right way. I am a veteran of some 40 plus races so I know I can be a harsh critic, however, I know other participants shared my feelings when one runner questioning our direction early in the race said “This is kind of sketch”.
The other note I gave the organizer was the lack of water or nutrition the finish line. I asked him if they typically have water at the end of the race and he pointed me to the white food tent where they were selling food and beverages. “No”, I said, “You have to give the finishers little cups of water…like at a water station”. I further kindly pointed out that some races take it further and offer half bananas, oranges, or something else. This seemed to click and sure enough, about 20 minutes later, there was a table with water set up at the finish line. There no volunteers manning the table, but hey, they got it half right.
Speaking of that white food tent, it was the standard “Crappy event food”. $5 or $6 dollar hamburgers and hot dogs that just show lack of attention or imagination from an event producer. I understand that this is “only their 2nd event”. I don’t think that gives race directors a pass. If you are going to take consumers money and produce a race that you bring to cities across the country, you are expected to have an idea about event production and race logistics.
Hit and Run 5k has 5 more events with dates locked in and another 17 cities with TBA dates. Vast improvement is going to have to happen if they are to survive a very crowded field of themed 5ks. Epecially, when there are others like the aforementioned ROC, Color Run, and Electric Run, which have hundreds of thousands of loyal fans and super high production value.
One more positive note, I was the first one across the finish line in the 1st heat of the day in 29:58. I am pretty sure this makes me the winner. If it doesn’t, I am still a winner…in here.
Editor’s Note – Update: This race appears to be among the dead. Here are some more reviews of another event prior to their death.