Before The Start – My 1st race of 2023 was La Cruda 5K, held on January 1st in Helotes, Texas. The event started and finished in historic “Old Town” Helotes area. This is a very popular local area New Year’s Day 5K with a start time of 10 a.m., so people can sleep in a bit after their New Year’s Eve celebrations – except for the race organizers and volunteers, they had to be there early to get things set up, so thank you to them. This is also a dog-friendly and chair-friendly event. After some fairly cold weather for we South Texans for about 2 weeks before this event, Mother Nature finally let us get back to somewhat normal, with a temp in the low 60s for start time. It was also pretty humid, resulting in some mist/fog during the event. As noted, this is a very popular event and this year was no exception, with 591 finishers. I had picked up my packet a couple of days before, so arrived with about an hour to start time and got a few pre-start photos.
On The Course: Since New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday this year, our normal 5K route for Old Town was not used, as a local church along the route of the regular route was having Sunday services; thus, we were ‘good neighbors’ and Soler Sports changed the route to a 2-lap out-and-back event, using part of the route we normally use, and avoiding interfering with the church traffic, etc. For what Soler Sports had to work with, they did a really great job laying out the route on roads wide enough to accommodate everyone of all paces to run or walk comfortably. There were a couple of uphills and downhills, coming and going, but nothing near what the usual 5K route is like. Very well done. Because there were so many participants, a ‘wave’ start was smartly used, allowing the participants with faster paces to get going first. With my slow pace, I was way in the back as usual, lol. All good, as the race is chip-timed. We started and finished near a building that was formerly the Soler Sports store, going past a traffic circle, and then down a road to a turn-round point. This brought us back to the traffic circle, where we made a right turn – heading in the direction of Bandera Road – and made another turn-round near the end of the road. We then proceeded back to the traffic circle going on the first road we had started on, passing by the entrance to the start/finish area. This road was a downhill first, then an uphill to the next turn-round, which was just down from where the church is located. After making that turn-round, we went back the way we had come out, once again passing the start/finish area entrance, and then did the above mentioned route a second time, turning into the lane to go to the finish, after we came back from the third turn-round near the church road. Out of the 32 finishers in my Males 60 – 69 age group, I was 22nd with a chip time of 40:38, averaging 13:05 per mile, and I had negative splits too, nice. My speedy friend Meghan came out to run with me the last ½ mile, bless her, and my fellow Old-Dog friend, Albert caught up to me, and also ran with us to the finish. I met my 2 primary goals, finish standing up and no ambulance waiting for me, lol, and felt pretty good overall.
After My Finish: Got some water, and also got my dry base-layer shirt back on, and then wandered here-and-there, getting some photos and enjoying some post-race goodies, of which there was quite a lot, including various adult beverages; grilled sausage wraps, and much more. Fun stuff, and certainly enjoyed seeing a multitude of my running/walking friends out there.
Epilogue: As noted, this is a very popular event, and you can register for it just about right off the bat. Registration for the 2024 one is already available at a nicely discounted price if you register early. The race shirt is very nice quality and there is a finisher medal for all finishers. The event is dog-friendly, chair-and-stroller friendly and disabled participant friendly. It has one heck of a nice after-party with all kinds of items, vendor booths, DJ music, a raffle for some prizes, and age-group awards for Top 3 in each age group, if I remember correctly. Very nice race location – both porta-potties and indoor restroom facility – and, as noted, adult beverages of various kinds, as well as plenty of water and non-alcoholic drinks too, as this is also a kid friendly event. I have done this one every year since it first started and will continue to do this one – hoping to keep my streak going – whenever I can. I would certainly recommend it to others. MUCHO THANKS to all the people involved who make this even happen for us each year: Race Director Tony Garcia; Lisa Soler and Soler Sports crew; iaapweb for the timing and results; all the volunteers, of course, including the bike pacers for the lead runners, and the police officers out there at the road closure signage for our safety; the official photographers of Push Button Photography on the course, snapping photos of the participants – a lot better than my home-camera photos I am sure, lol – our MC, Anthony, and our sound guy Paul, who did their usual great jobs; and anyone else involved I may not have mentioned. Thank you all!