This weekend, my family ran the City of Trails 5k as our June family race. We ran this race last year and enjoyed it. This year, the race was even better!
The City of Trails races, located in St. Croix Falls, WI, offer 5k, 10k, and half marathon options. The 10k and half marathon are run on a combination of paved bicycle path and the Ice Age Trail. The 5k is run on paved bicycle path and residential sidewalks and roads. My family chose to run the 5k. I’d love to do the 10k sometime, but refuse to run off-road until after the marathon, to decrease the chances of injury.
This year, the course had more downhills and more paved bicycle trail than last year, because construction in the area has been completed. It was a beautiful course that I enjoyed more than last year and I hope they keep this one for future events.
The morning started out warm, in the 70’s, and very windy. I wasn’t feeling like I could pull a fast pace, so I started toward the back of the pack and started slowly. I figured it would be one of those days to just enjoy the scenery and get the miles in. However, as I neared the end of the first mile, my legs started to loosen up and I was feeling better. I glanced down at my watch and saw that my pace was sitting around 10:54, without feeling too hard.
As I reached the end of mile two, I felt really good and felt like I just might have a PR in me. I started pushing even harder, until I was breathing like a freight train. A glance at my pace showed a 9:30 pace on the final downhill drop toward the river and the finish line.
From last year, I knew that this course tends to be a tad long, so I stopped my watch when it hit 3.1 miles. I wanted to know what my actual 5k time was, and since the race was chip timed, I knew I’d still get an official time for the course.
I kept pushing even harder when I hit the last quarter-mile stretch, building momentum for the final little uphill at the finish line. My watch showed a 5k PR of 31:45! Later, when I checked my official results for the race, it showed 32:12. The course was 3.2 miles, so just a tad over this time; it was almost a 1/4 mile long last year.
Unlike last year, there was water and food at the finish line. Last year, everything was located in the race tent at the top of the hill, with no signage or volunteers to tell us where to go. I appreciated having water immediately at the finish line.
The only complaint I have about this race is that the only water stop on the 5k course is at approximately 0.65 miles. It is a water stop that is shared by the 5k and 10k, but faces the 10k trail, so many of the 5k runners didn’t realize it was available to them. Unfortunately, it is also too early in the race; it would be better if they had one closer to the halfway point.
As friends and I were discussing the water stops on the course, we were standing in front of the timing tent; the woman from the timing company wrote down our suggestions. She told us that they wanted feedback about the race in order to make it better, which I appreciate.
I should also mention that the course is a point-to-point course. Because the course drops downhill toward the river, the walk back to the start and parking is all uphill; thankfully, they offer a shuttle to return runners to their vehicles. For this reason, I recommend that runners carry cash for the food concessions and an ID for beer!
City of Trails remains one of my favorite races. The course is beautiful, the race has a small-town feel, the shirt is a nice tech material, volunteers and other participants are friendly, and there are food concessions at the end of the race in addition to the food provided by race organizers. The race is part of Wannigan Days, the town festival, which is why there are food vendors at the finish. I plan on being back next year!
What are your favorite races?