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Race Result

Racer: Anne Pastorkovich
Race: Fairfax Four
Date: Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Location: Fairfax, VA
Race Type: Run - Other
Age Group: Female 40 - 44
Time: 0:43:37
Comment: First Year for the Fairfax Four

Race Report:

I actually have no idea what my actual time was, it was 43 and change on the clock (I think), and I'll update it when they put up gun and chip results. I'm not good with fumbling with my watch in the dark. My hubby accidentally hit "stop" on the third lap, so I just have to wait for the posted results. I know I was really huffing and puffing along in the cold, having pulled my gaiter up over my nose and mouth a couple times to warm my breath. I was really slowing my hubby down and he seemed puzzled that I wasn't "picking it up" at all. I was c-c-c-old. I just cannot get going in the c-c-c-old.

This was the first year for the Fairfax Four, which started in front of Pacers, so I thought I'd give the good points and the bad.

First, the good features of this race:

1) THAT THE RACE WENT ON. Despite a big old tree falling across Old Lee Highway and knocking out power to a chunk of Fairfax City, the race went on on a modified (four loop) course. The race director and volunteers reacted well to Mother Nature's wrath. There was a furious wind whipping around some of the course, but there was really nothing to blow over on us, so I think they made a good, safety-conscious decision that let us run out 2008 how runners want to run out an old year. It was, as you know, very windy. The Fairfax mayor didn't even get to light the bonfire in the park. If he had, he'd have surely been likened to Mrs. O'Leary's cow.

2) SPECTATORS AND VOLUNTEERS. With such an angry wind, the runners were really the only outdoor "game" in town. So there were a fair number of spectators at the turnaround for such a wintery night, and I really did appreciate them being there. With four, roughly one mile, loops, we got to see them again and again and they were good and loud. The volunteers were also enthusiastic.

3) CHIP TIMING. Chip timing meant not being good at fumbling with your watch in the dark (like me) didn't matter. Eventually, you'll know your time when they post the results. With chips, you should know them quickly. My hubby hates chips and would disagree with me for putting chip timing on the "good" list, but I like it.

4) FREE STUFF. Although we didn't use them, they give you a bunch of coupons for a free wine tasting, free ice cream, wings and stuff like that. (Wishing to shun crowds, we went to the Firehouse Grill, which was surprisingly empty.)

5) PARKING. Free. Plenty.

The bad features of this race:

1) NO CHIP BUCKETS. I totally understand that Pacers wants to show off their running store, but it's a very, very small space and they've got to know that. It's not a good place to funnel people in and out of for dropping off chips. They just need to get big old buckets and collect the chips at the finish line like other races. The type of timing tag they use is not all that expensive (I've been involved in putting on a race that used them) and most people will return them either on site or if reminded by e-mail.

2) LONG LINE FOR PREMIUMS THEY DIDN'T ALWAYS HAVE. I guess the reason for them having a long line at the finish line was for you to pass in your chip *in exchange for* getting the post-race "premium," which is a Nike sweatshirt. The idea was that you give them your chip and they give you your premium for finishing. The sweatshirt is nice and all (male and female specific sizing, semi-fitted, which you were supposedly picking in advance), but I'd rather they'd have just given them out at packet pickup or have done t-shirts (or tech t-shirts) like everyone else does. My hubby pre-registered and they ran out of his size while we were way back in the line, but he and all the other guys got to fill out a form and allegedly they will be mailed one by Pacers. Running out of shirts happens and it happened at a race I was involved in managing (we mailed the shirts later), but it was more the annoyance of wasting time, shivering, in a long, snaking line to pass in a chip only to be told they don't have the size you pre-registered for anyway.

I am a fan of holiday-themed races, and I think this one has great potential if they tweak some things about it next year. The race crew was not overwhelmed by the weather and what it threw at them. But they did seem to be overwhelmed by a large turnout on race day. In order to avoid leaving finishers standing around in the cold next year for premium they didn't actually get to collect anyway, I suggest they collect the chips in buckets and just give whatever article of clothing they want to give out at the packet pickup. With so much free parking, it is an easy jog back to the car post-race to toss something warm on and doing so would have been much faster than waiting in line anyway.

Happy New Year to all! I have planned to run a New Year's Day race to go with my New Year's Eve race, but I think I might just do some yoga today in a nice, warm studio. My sinuses are still feeling frozen from last night!

P.S. 43:37 gun, 42:12 net/chip