Yesterday was the annual Veterans Day 5K and 10K race. A good friend of ours is in the Army Reserve and she had asked us if we wanted to run the Veterans Day Race with her and her family. Of course we were onboard with that idea. The race is held in downtown Denver and the start was scheduled for 7.00 AM which meant an early start into the day. We got up at 5.00 AM to have breakfast and then to get ready for the race. The drive took about 30 minutes and we got there early because we still had to pick up our race bibs and T-Shirts. It was very cold outside with temperatures just above freezing and it took a while to warm up after the start.
The event was kicked off with the national anthem. This felt really special due to so many active service members in uniform being there for the event. I am not sure who actually was the performer of the national anthem, but I really liked his way of singing the national anthem.
The 10K runners were up first. There were quite a few soldiers and civilians that took part in the 25 pound Rippetoe Rucksack Challenge. If you are not familiar with such a challenge – the runners will carry a backpack or ruck loaded with 25 pounds of weight for the race. Some did this wearing their uniform and combat boots while a few others did were normal running gear, but carried the backpack.
About 5 minutes after the 10K runners had left the 5K runners were up. My wife and her friend + her oldest son (11) would run together while I would run my 9 year old son and her youngest son (10). Both kids were about equally fit and I expected an average pace of about 10:45 per mile just based on my experience from other running events. The race was on and we took with the other runners. The start was very slow and it was hard to work a way through the different groups of runners and walkers. The course followed some city streets for a short time and then went down to the trail along the South Platte River. It was a narrow path and it was sometimes difficult to navigate and not to bump into other people, but we made it Ok. Our pace was right around the 10 minutes and 45 seconds per mile at that point and I reminded the kids to keep the speed under control so that they would have enough energy to finish strong.
The course made its way back onto city streets and soon we saw the Denver Civic Center Park (finish area) coming closer. My son fell back a little bit and so I tried to motivate him and keep him in the race. Our friends son looked strong and kept a steady pace. Actually our pace had gotten faster and in the end we finished with a strong 10 minute average mile. The closer we came to the finish area the more people were out there cheering us runners on. My son “mobilized” his remaining energy and together we dashed over the finish line.
It was a great race for the kids and I really enjoyed being pacemaker and getting them safely to the finish line. This was my first Veterans Day race and I really enjoyed this race even though it was just a 5K. Honoring the people that serve our country and sacrifice so much so that we can live free through running means a lot. Knowing that parts of the registration fees go towards helping veterans is pretty cool, too. Thank you to all Veterans and active duty members of the armed forces.