Recap: 2014 Anthem 5k

I give it up to this kid. He had no reservations when it came to grooving and lip-syncing to even the most absurd of pre-race running anthems. He was thrusting his hips to Ke$ha and discoing beside what I can only assume was his less-than-enthusiastic sister on a hill overlooking the start line of the race. And he wasn’t the only interesting person to watch while the start of the 2014 Anthem 5k was delayed time and time again.

Let’s back up a minute. If you’ve read my blog much, you know I don’t care much for 5ks. It’s just not my favorite distance. But I found myself signing up for this race because it’s the first leg of a local series called The Triple Crown of Running. And for completing all three legs, you get an extra shirt and the opportunity to brag with fellow runners or anyone who can tolerate listening to you talk one more minute about running.

This was also the first race I have ever repeated. I ran it as my first official 5k (as a runner) back in 2012, but things would be different this year. The biggest change would be the brand new location for the race. After 740 years, Louisville is finally getting two new bridges across the Ohio River, and construction on the downtown span forced organizers to find a new home to this beloved 3.1 mile race that 7,000 people annually complete.

Walking toward the start line of the 2014 Anthem 5k

Walking toward the start line of the 2014 Anthem 5k

My friend, Lindsay, and her fiancé, Ryan, were both going to the race, and Linds offered up the opportunity to carpool with them. Ryan was running. Lindsay wasn’t touching this race with a 10-foot pole. In fact, most of my friends weren’t running this race due to the crowds and inevitable bottlenecking.

2014 Anthem 5k ryan glenn

But it was way worse than that. While I can’t imagine the logistics of planning such a huge 5k, it seems like more thought could have been given to the location. Organizers decided to plot the course through an office/industrial park in the far eastern suburbs of the city with little access for traffic and parking. Because Ryan and I needed to pick up our bibs, our trio arrived an hour early and found a parking spot that was relatively close to the start/finish.

I jumped on Twitter and searched to see how many people were tweeting about the race when I saw the first cracks in the foundation.

2014 Anthem 5k tweet 3

2014 Anthem 5k tweet 2

2014 Anthem 5k tweet 1

Ryan and I went into the corral about 15 minutes before the start. I told him we’d need to get closer than usual to the front because, in my previous experience, there were grandmas with walkers lined up with elites. That’s an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.

And true to form, just as we settled in, I saw some folks 10 feet behind the local top runners wearing sweat pants and the race shirt. To our right, a little old couple slipped in with a dog on a leash. I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders at Ryan as we waited for the start.

And waited.

And waited.

Organizers chose to delay the start of the race to accommodate late arrivals. Then, they decided to fill this time with speeches from business leaders of the various race sponsors. By the time the fourth person spoke, the crowd of runners had begun to boo loudly.

This was our view for about 45 minutes.

This was our view for about 45 minutes.

Finally, 31 minutes after the race was scheduled to begin, we were released.

I had no expectations for this race. I took way too much time off over the winter to expect a PR, but I was hoping not to embarrass myself. Bobbing and weaving among children and walkers, I finally found a little room near the first mile marker.

A little while later, more than a mile into the race, people were still walking TOWARD the start line. Some little girl collided with another runner and hit the pavement somewhere behind me. I didn’t see it, but Ryan confirmed that she was the same girl who darted in front of me and then stopped abruptly only moments before.

Ryan and I ran together through the second mile, which was a slight incline between industrial buildings. One company had placed a table near an intersection with a sign on it that said MetalWorks (the name of the company). That’s it. Just a table. No water. No bananas. No applications for employment. Just a table.

Not on the course, but this was pretty much the scenery the entire time.

Not on the course, but this was pretty much the scenery the entire time.

When we finally turned back on the road to the finish line, I wanted this thing to be over. My friend, Tammy, had done some reconnaissance and said there was a final hill toward the end. When we hit it, Ryan picked up the pace and I fell back a bit. The finish line was just on the other side of the hill, and there was a good amount of supporters to welcome us home.

Official chip time: 26:02

Not the best. Not the worst. I’ll take it for my first race in three months.

Long-sleeved, cotton race shirt

Long-sleeved, cotton race shirt

We watched a few people we know cross the finish line, grabbed some energy bars and Gatorades and headed back to the car. By this point, the traffic that plagued those trying to get INTO the office park was in reverse, causing even more congestion. So we pulled into the queue and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I hopped on Twitter again, and the venom coming from participants was spreading. Twenty minutes after we’d gotten in the car (and moved about 500 feet), #Anthem5kfail was trending in Louisville.

I can’t harp on the organizers too much. This must have been a gargantuan task. And in all reality, they could have just decided to cancel the event – which wouldn’t have been a great solution for anyone. So while I applaud their efforts to continue the tradition, there has to be a better answer for next year. This location was a terrible choice, and I hope it doesn’t turn off people from completing the Triple Crown in the future.

Until then, keep running, friends.

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10 responses to “Recap: 2014 Anthem 5k

  1. Wow! What a day. I’ve been at a race that started about 35 minutes and I was very frustrated because it meant it had also been that long since my trip to the little girls port o potty. I hate late starts…but I think you did record a great time 🙂
    It sounds a lot like a race I run here in VA that always has walkers up in the runners waves. Makes me cray cray lol

    • Thanks, Karen! The race controversy ended up being such a big deal that it was the lead story on the news last night. The worst thing about standing there in the cold was that my legs tightened up.

      Oh well. On to the next one! Thanks for stopping by. I’ll have to add your blog to my list!

  2. I saw so much backlash on Facebook and Twitter about this race. I was out of town so I didn’t run it this year, but it just sounded like it was a mess. I am glad you made the most of it and had a good run to say the least. And here’s hoping improvements will be made for next year.

    • I guess that’s the double-edge of social media, eh? Bad news spreads as fast as good. Well, all-in-all, I’m glad they just didn’t cancel it altogether. And I heard the organizers have already said that they won’t hold it in this location again. So that’s good news!

  3. It is certainly impressive the lengths you’ll go for tradition. We both share a certain “distaste” for 5ks – it’s almost a necessary evil, and I keep my participation to a minimum. But with so many hiccups and logistical flaws, I’m surprised that this post wasn’t more vitriolic. Anyway, it’s a good start to the racing circuit, the first step toward the mini. Keep it up Glenn Franklin.

    • Come to think of it, Dan Francisco, I don’t recall reading any 5k recaps from you. I’ll have to go seek one out on your blog.

      I left most of the vitriol to others – and there was plenty of it to go around. While I can empathize with the organizers, there is a “you should have known better” aspect of this that just casts a dreary shadow over the event.

      Here’s hoping the next race is back on track!

  4. Why wasn’t this race covered in the CJ? Would it have embarrassed Anthem? Mu husband and I left Jeff around 7am and got caught in traffic about 3 miles from exit off of Snyder. People were pulling over on the side of the expressway and climbing the fence. What a mess! Horrible venue. I have been involved in dozens of special events and you always anticipate problems and try to look for possible solutions. It was as if they NEVER handled a 5K before. I will not attend next year if it is held at this location.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I think they’ve already decided to find a new location for next year, so maybe they learned a lesson in all of it.

  5. Pingback: Recap: 2014 Rodes City Run | See Glenn Run·

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