On the morning of Saturday, March 24th, I ran the MDRA Lake Johanna 4 Mile in Arden Hills, MN. This race was free to all MDRA (Minnesota Distance Running Association) members, so I figured it would be a great way to get another race on my schedule without spending more money on race fees.
The morning started out in the 40s and overcast, which I think is perfect for a race. I arrived about 20 minutes before the race, which gave me plenty of time to use the restroom, pick up my bib and get to the start line. I overhead other runners talking at the start line about how the course was hilly. I wasn’t looking forward to it since my legs were sore from a Bodyworks class that Thursday.
Since it was a small field of runners, someone literally said “Go” to start us off. This was not a chip timed race, so the clock was started with the “Go” command. We took off uphill for the first mile. My legs were screaming at me immediately, especially my quads, from the extra exertion on the hill. The next portion of the race was small hills, then another large hill around mile 2.5. This one was killer and my quads were so tight, I had to stop to stretch and walk about 30 steps. Thankfully, mile four was all downhill, which I was pleased about.
The course itself was a bit treacherous because the roads we were running on were full of potholes, had small or no shoulder and several portions were on very busy, open roads. None of the course was closed to traffic. In races like this, it always amazes me how many runners do not follow basic road rules such as watching for cars at intersections and running against traffic. It blows my mind. Overall, I didn’t feel that the course was very safe, especially considering there were several children running.
Although my legs were mad at me, I’m glad the course was hilly because I need hill training to prepare for May’s half marathon. However, I’m not sure I would do this race again, considering the poor condition of the roads and the busy traffic. This race would have been out of the question for me if we’d had snow and ice like we normally have this time of year. But, it was free, which is a huge plus.
Because the race was free, it was also very “no frills.” There were no race shirts, no bottled water (Dixie cups and two large coolers only) and no race support with the exception of a few homeowners in the area who came out on their lawns to cheer. However, the Great Harvest cookies were phenomenal and the two kids manning the food table were delightful. The elderly men manning the finish line, however, were gruff. Being a sprint-to-the-finish type of person, I tend to run through the finish line and not stop on it because it’s frustrating to others shooting for a time. The first man told me to stop because the race was over. I’m guessing he doesn’t realize what it can do to a body to come to a complete stop immediately after running four miles. Regardless, I was glad to be done.
One positive of this race is that they gave away several prizes. All participants were eligible and names were drawn. Unfortunately, I didn’t win anything, but the prizes given away were all great running items such as compression sleeves, moisture wick shirts and running caps.
Overall, I liked the hills on the course and was pleasantly surprised by my finishing time of 43:57 (“official” time of 44:26), considering how sore my body was going into the race. But, I would have to be desperately seeking another race for my calendar to run this one again. I’m hoping the MDRA Mudball Classic 4 Mile that I’m running in four weeks is a better race; at least it’s another free one!