Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Race Report: Coaster Run 2014

I was pretty pumped to do this race - yet another great race put on by Renegade Racing - for a variety of reasons.  1)  It would be my first official race with my son (i.e. me pushing him in a stroller).  He was turning one a few days after that - so it had a bit of special meaning to me to be able to run this race.  2)  I've always wanted to do this race since I first heard about it.  The race is unique in that it goes through Knott's Berry Farm.  Besides the cool scenery, it also makes for a pretty technical and challenging course.

My running this year is finally starting to get back to where it needs to be, and I'm "nagging pain/injury" free - so I figured to do pretty well in this race.  Having not done a 10k with a stroller in awhile - I figured it would hamper my pace by a few minutes (it did on the last 10k I did with my niece).  So I was aiming to basically break 40 minutes and would be satisfied with that.

When we arrived that morning - there was a couple of things that would immediately work against me.  For one, it was raining.  Not an "armageddon" type of rain, but a light drizzle.  This posed a problem because it would make the surface through the park extra slippery - which would require great care when running through it.  It also presented a bit of a problem with puddles throughout the park.  Secondly, there was no stroller division.  Typically, in races where strollers are permitted, they start the strollers in a single place (usually at the very front as the first to go off or at the very end after everyone else already started the race).  This is done mostly for safety reasons I'd guess - although I never really understood the practice.  What this meant for me was that I would have to start in a normal corral, surrounded by people running without a stroller.  It also meant that "sandbagging it" to get an easy win (i.e. in a stroller division) just wasn't going to happen (this was my bigger concern - haha).

At the start of the race inside the first corral.
Being that there was no stroller specific division, I just hopped in to my designated corral (the first one) - which was set according to the estimated pace one would run the 10k at (which you gave at registration).  Now, I understand how incredibly impossible it is to enforce such a thing, but it was apparent as soon as I was in the corral that a lot of the people inside of the first corral shouldn't have been in there. That's not a huge deal in of itself - it just imposes delays for the faster runners in the corral.  With that said - I have no idea where the "cut offs" were in terms of placing people in specific corrals.  In any case, I knew the stroller was going to cost me a few minutes on my time and navigating around people was always going to be a part of that.  I ended up positioning myself in the back of the first wave - knowing that bullying my way up front would just be a dumb thing to do.

Other than that, the race start was actually really cool.  They had the Sheriff (who apparently is a character from Knott's Berry Farm) come out and fire off his gun to start.  My son (who thankfully was already awake) really enjoyed that - and off we went!

As you can see - it was difficult to navigate around the crowd when starting in the first corral. 
One of the highlights of this race (for me) was being able to go through the park by the roller coasters and exhibits.  This proved to not be a disappointment as it was completely refreshing to see a different backdrop while doing a race.  The other highlight was how technical the course was - with a ton of turns and out-and-backs which proved a challenge for any runner (much less someone with a stroller!).  That said, it was really fun to weave through the park.

I managed to pull away from the main group pretty quickly (right after getting out of the park), and began my chase to catch the leaders when I ended up in more of a straight away.  I was able to keep a pretty good pace with the stroller, and was very pleased in how well the Skora Fits worked in this weather.  They are such an incredible shoe - and were very fast even in these less than ideal conditions.

I don't always make faces at the camera - but when I do I make sure to throw a shaka and give the photographer the impression that I want him to call me.  =\  *sigh*

You can see in these two pictures the amazing backdrop of running through a classic amusement park.

I was able to make up some ground on people in the straight aways by the Buena Park mall (outside of the park) and finished under my 40 minute goal time.  I would have destroyed that goal time had I not been in a stroller (the associated challenges of dodging people in a stroller would have, more or less, disappeared - and I would have started in the front of pack).  With that said, I was pleased with my performance.

Since the 5k runners finished in the same place as the 10k runners - it was impossible to tell what place I was in.  I was guessing anywhere from 5th to 10th (there were at least 3 people I saw coming on the out-and-back on the way back from the mall - but I wasn't sure how many were ahead of them).

I ended up 5th overall and first place in my age group with a time of 39:38 - which was seconds within 3rd and 4th place.  

The finish line is where the good part comes into play.  Not only do you get a really cool finishing medal (with Snoopy on it!), but you also get a great big piece of Boysenberry Pie.  A rather delicious way to finish a race!

The finisher's medal was really cool.

Post-Race goofing around with Snoopy.

The awards ceremony, as always, was very well done by the folks at Renegade.  They do an incredible job in making people feel really special about achieving a podium spot.  You also get a pretty sweet mug and a giftcard to BJ's Restaurant.  I was stoked about both things!

My son and I at the awards ceremony.

On the way back to the car from the race with racing partner and our first place award!

All in all, this was an incredible race and will become an "every year race" for me.  I had a blast - and that was in the rain!  Everything was well done - from the tents and booths, to the course set-up, to the course support - there just isn't much more to ask for in a 10k race.  They did an outstanding job and anyone doing this race (or any of their races) in the future will NOT be disappointed.

Next up:  The Leprechaun Leap 5k in Tustin, Ca.  This is a super cool race that will hopefully prove to be just as unique as the coaster run, as this course is laid out through the blimp hangars in Tustin!  If you're interested in going - use code BRYAN10 to save a few bucks.



  1. So cool, to read your story. Being the mom, standing next to you before the race. Wondering how you would manage with a toddler, stroller, and rain. Having my 17 year old with me. I know he will bolt off, leaving me in the dust with all the other newbie runners.
    Awesome fun day.

    1. haha. I'm lucky that as soon as I start running, he falls asleep! :) Glad you enjoyed the race - it's one of the best 10ks I've been a part of!