After my 10k at Sunday's Saturday's Get in Gear came to its slow, steady end, I stuck around in the finish line area despite the rain and despite the fact that I would have to advertise a time I wasn't very happy with. But I still wanted to stay there and visit with as many people as I could and swap stories.
Get in Gear is a nice race for me because I live less than a mile from the Falls. So I eventually jogged home and, like I do every year, had to marvel just how far away from the Falls people had to park. About half an hour later I drove a friend to the airport and we saw the shuttle buses and we saw people walking to the light rail station with coffee cups in their hands and race numbers. And everyone seemed so happy.
And this got me to thinking, Get in Gear is like a holiday for runners. There are a handful of races that are like that, where you feel like it's some holiday. Some of my favorite races are not on this list. So a race on this list isn't better than one that isn't.
These are just races that feel like a racer's holiday. You could call it St. Prefontaine Day, in honor of the patron saint of foot racing. Well which races go on this list? Here's my take, in the order of the calendar.
1. The Frozen Half. This is a holiday in the same way a barn raising is a holiday. Everyone puts on their best face to do some hard work and there is a sense of community. Simply waiting in line for the port-a-potty is a test of endurance. You chat with everyone about crazy this is and how much it will suck. But when it's all said and done you loiter in the office building enjoying the warmth and the sense of accomplishment. The mug is a nice touch too.
2. The Human Race. I have always felt like the Human Race is the first day of school. All the competetive runners show up with new uniforms for the team they run for. People come out of Runner Vacation and you see people you haven't seen since Twin Cities Marathon weekend. And oftentimes a trip to a nearby bar and grill caps off the afternoon.
3. Boston Marathon Yeah, I know, it's a holiday only for the elites. You need the money and the qualifying time, but it is a truly special race. Anyone who can take advantage of the opportunity should do so at least once. Colin really captured why in this post a few years back.
4. Get in Gear As I put together the RRRR #6 post, I came to realize this is a goal race for so many first-time racers. It is really cool to read about how happy people were to finish their first race and be hungry for more. And for a lot of people, this is the only race they do all year.
5. Go North! 5k Yes this is a smaller 5k, but it just goes to show, the size of a race doesn't make it a holiday. This race has it all: a drumline and dance team at the start and on the course, Minnesota summer weather, and a hot dog party afterwards.
6. Grandma's Marathon Do I have to explain this one? The holiday starts Friday with the caravan to Duluth and then everyone from Two Harbors to Duluth celebrates on Saturday. I've been known to continue celebrating this holiday into the wee hours of Saturday night Sunday morning. And I think that is the key: Grandma's is a Saturday race.
7. Twin Cities Marathon Between Grandma's and TCM, there are so many races. And I should add, so many GREAT races. But the sheer volume makes it hard for one to stand out as a holiday. Imagine if Thanksgiving, New Year's Day, Valentine's Day, July 4th, and Labor Day all happned over a three week period. They wouldn't feel like a holiday anymore. But TCM is a weekend-long event now and TCM or the TC10 is the goal race for so many runners. It's like all the races bottleneck to TCM and it is THE racing holiday of the second half of the year.
1. All races that fall on a holiday. This includes the obvious (turkey trot and the Valentine's Day run) as well as the Brian Kraft 5k and the Victory races beecause they fall on holiday weekends.
2. Outstate races. I almost added Nerstrand Big Woods Half Marathon because everyone sticks around post-race to have soup in the church basement. But it may have just been a fun race for me and a regular run for everyone else. I'll have to run that race some more to figure it out. But I just haven't run enough races outside the metro area.
Any races I missed? Any races I should have left off?