Christmas Rush

Posted on December 15, 2009

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The Christmas Rush is an annual tradition in Kent, WA. The event includes a 5K walk, a 5K run, and a 10K run.

This past Saturday was the 27th annual running. This year, things had to be a little different. A nearby dam is weak, so the usual course is covered in industrial-sized sandbags. I used to walk my dogs down there on Sundays, but the bags cover so much of the trail that we had to look for other opportunities to get some exercise.

The weather has also been unusually cold for the Pacific Northwest, with temperatures below 20F consistently. Normally, I avoid running outside if the temperature is below 40F. I’d like to toughen up, but exercising in the cold and then going back indoors triggers my asthma.

That meant separating the parking area from the starting line by a 5-minute walk. I don’t know if they tried to put registration in the parking lot and couldn’t make it work, but it was near the starting line. That meant walking 5 minutes to the starting line in below-20F weather, registering, walking back to my car and dropping off my gear, then walking back to the starting line. I saw a lot of people doing the same thing.

The course was lined with sandbags but, because it was a two-lane road instead of a walking trail, there was still plenty of room for everyone. Frager Road, it turns out, is badly in need of repair. That was a large pot hole filled with ice, an area of leaves frozen to the road (which can be extremely slick), and a spot where one lane of the road is slipping into the Green River. My favorite was the nursery with signs saying “open to the public,” “no trespassing,” and “private property.” Talk about mixed messages!

The event was well-attended. The parking lot was packed. I would have made two other changes. First, I would have moved Heaven and Earth to have hot food and/or beverages at the Finish. We certainly missed having Ivar’s handing out free clam chowder! I suspect the grill and oyster bar that let use their parking lot for registration and start/finish put limits on who could be there, but since they didn’t do anything to support the race beyond that, I don’t think I’ll be eating there.

Second, I would have divided the return lane by runners and walkers, with runners getting the inside lane. Because they didn’t make that division, those of us finishing the 10K were dodging the 5K walkers at the end, and collecting irritated glares as we did so.

Overall, I think it’s a terrific event and I’ll run it again.

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