For starters, there was plenty of green.
After all, the Leprechaun Chase 10K is all about some St. Patrick's Day fun, by way of a race course. But that's not all that awaits the Lads and Lasses at the Omaha venue.
There are nonstop hills. Many twists and turns along the race course keep you guessing. The terrain is constantly changing. And, this past Saturday, March 7th, there was a 22-mph steady blast of wind!
Alas, all of these variables not only made for a tough race, but a fun challenge.
The hubby and I have done the Des Moines venue several times (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019...basically, every year except the first year it existed), but this was our first time partaking in the Chase on Nebraska soil.
A nice perk to this event was the hosting site, the Strategic Air Command Museum (actually located in Ashland, NE). The Chase didn't start until 4:00, but all registered participants were given free admission to the museum prior to the race. Having served (active duty and reserve) for 30+ years in the Air Force, the hubby was quite enthralled (as was I) with all the aircraft. The SAC is essentially an airport hangar (minus the airport), with numerous military aircraft and memorabilia on display (much of which was suspended from the ceiling).
The Leprechaun Chase is, just as the name implies, a chase. The Lasses (all the gals) get a 5:30-minute head start before the Lads (all the guys) are released across the start line. Whomever crosses the finish line first earns a free green beer for all their fellow teammates (Lads OR Lasses).
|lining up inside the hangar|
I had stepped outside, just prior to the National Anthem, to get a GPS signal (and several other runners were doing the same thing). A few minutes later, back inside the hangar, and the signal was gone. I figured I could just run with it in stopwatch mode (because I didn't think I'd get the GPS back in time before crossing the timing mat).
They started the 10-second countdown, and all the gals started inching towards the arch,outside. Everyone had their arms poised, awaiting to set their watches (aren't we pathetic? LOL). I started to ease into a jog as I stepped outside, and immediately noticed my watch was searching for the signal. I crossed the timing mat, and a few seconds later the Garmin came to life, so I hit "start" and was on my way (I knew it would be a few seconds off from my actual "official" time, but no big whoop).
The route curved around to the front parking lot, towards the entrance of the SAC building, then looped out into the main parking lot...then swerved back around to the grass, leading us towards the first hill. The next thing I knew, there was a gravel segment as we continued up the hill. Fortunately, by the time we'd gone about 3/4th of a mile or so, we were back on the asphalt trail and winding our way through the edge of Mahoney State Park.
It was at the 1.15 mile mark that the first Lad passed me. A short ways later (1.35 mile mark), the second one whizzed by me. After that, I quit keeping track because it looked (and felt) like an army of guys all dressed in green.
The route was very scenic, but there were very few straightaways. It seemed like we were constantly going up a hill (or coming down), or working our way around another curve of some sort. There also were a few other intermittent patches of grass to peruse, as well as several wooden walking bridges.
There was a water station (with numerous volunteers) at the 2-mile mark, and again at the 3-mile mark (I think?) as well. As thirsty as I was feeling, I grabbed water at all the water stands, and walked briefly as I drank (I still have not mastered the "run and drink" tactic).
A nice feature, though, since the race took place on the grounds of the SAC (and alongside Mahoney State Park), there were a lot of spectators along the route cheering and high-5'ing the runners. I also spotted numerous photographers throughout the race.
The last 1.5 mile or so felt like it was a straight shot into the wind. It was around the 5.5-mile mark where we repeated that jaunt on the gravel (but in the opposite direction), and then the grass, as the route took us back to where we'd started. Back to the parking lot (full-on wind!), around the final curve to the back of the SAC building and across the finish mat. WHEW!
|Look closely, I'm still carrying the crumpled cup in my right hand LOL|
613 out of 2017 overall
219 out of 1262 women
8 out of 86 in my age group
I'd have to say this was definitely one of the hardest 10K's I've run. I was in decent shape for it, but the course was tough with all the curves and hills. The grassy parts were a little slick (thankfully, it was a dry day), and gravel is never easy on the ankles. But, dang. The wind was a beast!
The hubby and I were both so glad to be done!
Oh, and the Lads pulled off the victory, and crossed the finish line first. The hubby, therefore, claimed his free green beer...but didn't want it. I drank not even half of it either...I'm not a beer-drinker, though (and I call myself a runner LOL).
The swag is nice! This year, as part of the early-bird registration, participants could upgrade to a long-sleeved hooded tech shirt (instead of a short-sleeved tech shirt). The shirts usually are green, but I really like this year's black shirt with the green logo. And, thumb holes (need I say more?)!
Have you ever run a fun race on a tough course? Ever done a race with a "chase" format? Would you dress in green for a St. Patrick's Day-themed event? Have you ever carried a crumpled water cup across a finish line?
By the way...are you following me on social media? You can find me at these various platforms: