Photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/QLw6uWmfahgrrVaf8
Before The Start: My 16th 5K of 2023 was the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) 5K held on April 1st at Sandra Day O’Connor High School in Helotes, with a start time of 9 a.m and a theme of “Do Great Things”. The NEF has a “mission to foster community involvement in innovative educational programs.” I work for UTSA and the Northside District is, like all the San Antonio school districts, one of our partner schools, and a UTSA ‘neighbor’, being right down the road from us only a short way. This 5K was a fun-run to support their efforts, so no age group awards, but participants did get a finisher medal. Along with the 5K, there was also a family health and wellness expo, so there wrere lots of various vendors/sponsors with tables and booths. I arrived with a little under an hour to go to the start time, got my packet, and got a few pre-start photos. I have never been to this high school before and was surprised to see how really large this campus is. There was a really nice turn-out too, with over 1,000 participants of all ages, from small kid right up to old geezers like me, lol; it is also a stroller/chair friendly event. I did not see any dogs on the course, but per the race description, service dogs are allowed.
On The Course: With my two race speeds of “Slow and Slower”, I lined up in kind of in the near-back/middle of the huge start crowd., so it took me a while to get going to my normal pace; that and I did stop after I started to get a couple photos of this huge start crowd. The route was completely on the campus. It was pretty flat for most of the way, with participants heading first toward the front gate, where we did a turn-round. We headed back the way we had come out, and then did a right turn onto another road for a second-out-and-back. We then proceeded back towards the school building, making a right turn onto a road before we got to the school’s main parking area. This road took us back to the road we had started on. Once on this road, we proceeded down to another road, making a right turn onto that. This looked like a service area road to me, with buildings for the maintenance staff’s equipment, etc. We followed this road around until we came to another road – from which I could see the finish line on my left – and then made a right turn onto a road that took us up a pretty fair-sized hill, kind of reminding me of Gorilla Hill at the zoo since, when we got to a curve in the road and went around that, there was another part of the hill to go up. Once up this hill, we went downhill on a road where all the school buses were parked. At the bottom of this hill, we then made a left turn, went around a curve, and had to climb yet another hill – passing more school buses – which took us back to the first hill we had climbed. When we got on that, this time it was all downhill. After reaching the bottom, we then made a right turn, then a quick left turn and crossed over the finish line. My garmin had a distance of 2.9 miles, not a 5K, so I checked with my very speedy friend, Rex, and he told me the same thing, he had 2.9 also; so not quite a 5K, but what the heck, it’s a fun run for a good cause, so all good as far as I was concerned.
After My Finish: Chatted with some people near the finish line, got a few photos there too – including one lady with the only dog I saw today on the campus – and yes, it did get treats from me – and then went over to check out the post-race goodies and some of the vendor/sponsors tents, tables, etc. There really were a lot of them, nice turn-out from them too; all very friendly and several had some free give-away stuff. One of the sponsors, Orange Theory, even had an Amazon gift card that they raffled off, along with some training classes; and Camp Gladiator, if I remember, correctly, also had a deal on training classes. Post-race goodies included lots of fresh fruits – especially bananas, lots of bananas – water and various other types of non-alcoholic drinks – probably a good thing, lol, as there was a whole fleet of bicycle officers riding on the campus before, during, and after, making sure everyone was okay – and other various sundries offered by the vendors/sponsors. Sound guys had some really nice tunes playing too – oldies and some classic rock from my growing up era, lol; enjoyed it all. Epilogue: For as many people as do this one, this was a very well-organized event – and the campus is so large, it had plenty of parking for everyone. For what Soler Sports had to work with, Lisa and her team set out a very nice course for us; we got a foot-tour of practically the whole campus and the roads were nice and wide, so nobody was running into each other, we all had room to maneuver. The organizers also had one building open for us, so we nicely had actual restrooms instead of porta-potties. Pretty nice quality race shirt too. I certainly would do this one again, and I would recommend it to others. If you have never done a 5K event, this is could really be a good one to start with. Mucho thanks to all the people involved that made this one happen for we participants: NEF; the school staff; our MC who did a great job, and our sound guys; all the many, many volunteers and sponsors; Soler Sports; all the police officers out there for our safety, and the EMTs that were there – who kindly gave me a blood-oxygen oximeter measurement postrace (97%) so I could log it for my cardiologist, as I have a pacemaker -and personal thanks to my friends Lisa Haby Soler of Soler Sports, and Tony Garcia, who let me know about this 5K. Thanks, also to anyone involved I may not have mentioned here. Happy running/walking to all!