Friday, September 2, 2011

Obscure Local Races: Clarksburg Country Run

Clarksburg Country RunYou know how your conversations about running tend to go, even if the other participants aren't necessarily runners. Eventually someone asks you if you're training for something. For me these conversations have gone kind of like...

"Oh, so are you training for anything?"
"Yeah, I've got a (few) 10K(s) coming up, then a half marathon in November."
"Oh! Nike Women's! ZOMG so awesome & empowering!"
"Um--no, I'm not running Nike--"
"Oh, Big Sur Half? I hear that's like the most beautiful race ever ever EVER!"
"Ah, the US Half, then--that's supposed to be pretty cool too."
"Santa Barbara International?"
"Malibu International?"
"Run With The Jets?"
"So...what race are you running?"
"Oh, it's the Clarksburg Country Run. In Clarksburg."
"What's a Clarksburg?"

Heh. Mostly, I just find it amusing. I actually spent many, many weeks agonizing over which fall half I was going to do; you can read all about my hand-wringing in this post if you want the full story.

If not, I'll recap for you:

  • I don't mind running hills at all, but my big goal for this particular half is to break 100 minutes and qualify for the Prestige Half Marathon next year, so I need a flat course. That nixes the US Half & Big Sur.
  • Similarly, I am terrible at windy courses (as in having many turns) and it's very hard for me to run tangents without memorizing the course (which I suck at), so Primo's Run is out.
  • I'm still only working as a part-time contractor, so I don't have a bunch of extra $$$ to throw around. To be honest, unless it's a really special event for some reason, I have a hard time justifying more than about $60 for a half marathon, mostly because so much of the time all that extra money goes to stuff I can do without (giant medals, photography companies, rock bands & after-parties I won't attend, etc.). That nixes a BUNCH of stuff -- R&R San Jose ($85), Healdsburg Wine Country ($95), & Nike Women's ($130!!?!? Are you KIDDING me? Jesus effing Christ) to name a few. Anything where a hotel is involved is also out of the question.
  • I always prefer a small, quiet, more personalized race to a big, flashy, crowded one; it helps me relax and keep calm, which usually leads to a better race.

So after a bit of hemming & hawing, I settled on this tiny, cheap, flat little half an hour or so away that looked like it might be a little more competitive. It seems unlikely that I will share in the $29,000 prize pot (hah), but at least there will be plenty of parking and a free lunch in the school cafeteria afterwards, and showers if I'm feeling too gross for the drive home.

So here's my sort of "pre-race report":

Location: Clarksburg, CA (close to Sacramento)
Date: Mid-November (November 13, 2011 this year)
The Deal: The event is a fundraiser put on by several Clarksburg community groups (Boy Scouts, Fire Fighters, Cub Scouts, The Soccer Club, & Clarksburg Schools) who volunteer to run it. Also, Clarksburg is a PA USATF Championship race, which is kind of exciting.
Price: There are several different events:

  • 20 Mile or Half Marathon - $45.00 til 10/28, $50.00 til 11/12, $55.00 race day
  • Half Marathon Relay (2 people) - $70.00 til 10/28, $75.00 til 11/12, $80.00 race day (per pair)
  • 5K or 10K - $30.00 til 10/28, $35.00 til 11/12, $40.00 race day
  • Kids' Fun Run - $10.00 til 10/28, $15.00 til 11/12, $20.00 race day

Deadline: Race day registration
Field Size: In 2010, there were 601 participants in the half, & 53 in my age group. (You may be thinking that in a field so small, my chances of placing may actually amount to something! Heh, no. That's the magic of a PA USATF Championship race. Lots of super-speedy runners will be there to earn grand prix points; if I have a good race, I can probably make it into the top ten in my age group, but that's really all I can expect.)
Sellout Factor: Unlikely, as far as I can tell; PA USATF grand prix aside, it's a small local race. In the FAQ section, the response to "Will there be race day registration?" is "You bet!"

The Course

To quote the site, "All courses are USATF certified, flat, paved and scenic past area wineries and farms." Certified, flat, paved -- them's the magic words. :)

It is a little bit of a drive, but given the small size of the race, ease of parking, race-morning packet pickup, and 9:15 start time, making the trip up from SF that morning seems a lot more reasonable than it might be otherwise.

So there you go -- your obscure local race education for the week. :)

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