Monday, September 25, 2023

2023 Witch Run 10K Race Recap - West Jordan, UT

One of the bridges at Gardner Village

Official Time: 50:08
Placement: 1st in the 50 - 54, 10th overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 50's, sunny, no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2022[2021] [2020] [2019[2018]

Mile TimeComments
18:05Right on target. Just getting settled
28:02Still feeling good.  Need to bump the pace up
38:08Can't wait for the turn around.  A few frost covered bridges to cross though!
48:04A bit of an allergy attack and some frosty bridges.
57:58Intermingling with the 5K runners.  Crowded stretches. 
67:57Really hurting here but surprised that I managed to get this pace
6.241:52Very congested and lots of turns.  Not really a fast finish.
Total Miles: 6:24 - 50:09

Packet Pickup on Friday


Since 2018, I've done the Witch Run race held by OnHillEvents. The race is held at the last weekend of September (or the first weekend of October) and is the first race in a series based on Halloween.

The race offers a distance for just about everyone: a 5K, 10K, and half marathon.  The run is held on the Jordan River Parkway, about 2 miles from my house and one I consider my "home course".  I don't often run that far south, but I am not unfamiliar with the route.

The race's headquarters is an eclectic local shopping area that decorates its stores with Halloween decorations.  It is a nice place to have a race and has easy access to the bike trail.

Typical stretch of bike trail

The Race

I had picked up my bib the day before the race and I had heard a rumor the event was charging for parking, so I managed to get dropped off about a quarter mile away and do a warm-up to the race site.  I got some pre-race photos and tucked my phone away into my Flip Belt and warmed up.  

The race was chilly but not terribly so.  I wound up going with my short-shorts, a t-shirt and some light gloves.  This choice worked really well -- I hate cold hands.

The race started about 10 minutes late.  Due to a snafu with the half marathon start time, we had to let them go at 7:30 and we followed a few minutes later.

Early morning mountain view in Midvale, UT

The initial start is quite congested.  Almost immediately you make a turn down a narrow walkaway and do a series of turns before entering the shopping center's parking lot.  You do a well marshalled crossing before jumping onto the bike trail.  From there it is still another hundred yards of undulating turns before you can finally settle into a pace and get racing.

Entrance to the bike trail

Fog over the river

I eased into 10K pace, periodically checking in on my watch.  The leaders had blown by me and I wound up overtaking some of the faster starters.  I hadn't spotted anyone in my age group at the starting line and knowing from previous editions of the race, my age group usually wasn't that stacked.

I was on familiar bike trail and I was enjoying the crisp air.  As usual, I felt in control and I sped through the first mile in 8:05.  A little slower than I had hoped but no complaints.

At about 4 points we had to cross wooden bridges.  Due to the chilly air, they had a very thin layer of frost on them.  I had to slow down at each one to avoid risking falling.

Mile 2 and 3 saw fairly consistent splits.  I was hurting by mile 3 though and I began to wonder if the return trip was going to see my paces drop off a cliff.

As I got closer to the turn around I got a sense of where my competition was at.  I was in the top 10 with a potential person in my age group (although he appeared to be a bit younger).  He was going to finish in 2nd overall, so even if he was in my age group, I didn't think he was going to count against me.  If I really had an amazing finish, I could perhaps top 3 the race, but I wasn't counting on it.

I finally hit the turn around and it exactly where it should've been.  I didn't even glance at my watch to see what the total distance I was going to have to run, but it felt spot on.  I was running with one of the lead women and there were about half a dozen runners within a 100 yards tailing me.  Time to dig deep!

Banner for the Gardner Village Witchfest

I felt like my pace was dropping.  There were a few turns and I was running near the Sandy golf course.  It is actually a nicely shaded area with lots of trees and shrubbery.  And I got a lot of encouragement from those behind me.  It was much needed.

My pace didn't fall off a cliff though.  I was running in the low 8's but there were times I had to dial it back.  I also started to get an allergy issue.  I've noticed it comes on when I am running hard and in cold weather: I can't clear the junk in the back of my throat.  And it starts to ball up and I get almost like a suffocating experience.  I either have to slow down or just deal with it and wait for it to pass.  It is usually an awful 2 - 3 minutes.

Pre-start finish line.

Right on target, I hit mile 4 and knew I just had 2 more miles.  Time to dig deep.

There was only one aid station, just near the 5K turn around and while I didn't need it, it mentally served as point where I felt close to the finish.  I suspected I was going to be close to going sub 50 minutes but I'd have to speed up a bit.  My splits were mostly on target but I was just over 8 minutes.

Post race celebrations

I finally hit the 5K turn around and I was greeted with a line of walkers, both coming and going.  They had started probably about 10 minutes behind me but the slower ones were still making their way throughout the course.  The group I was working with (and myself) had to navigate our way around them.  It wasn't terrible, but I definitely had to find the best spot -- and often the least advantageous.  It was nice to get encouragement and cheers from friends in this area too.

I was shocked to see a sub 8 minute mile.  Just what I needed.  Was it enough though for the time I wanted?

The final mile was still congested but I mostly had a wide open lane when I needed it.  I was closing in on a great race and while I was running out of gas, my splits had been surprisingly consistent.  

I still had some runners in my view, particularly the first and second place women, and I didn't sense anyone was close behind me.  I had looked a little and didn't sense anyone was close.

I knew from previous races along this course it is hard to have a great, fast finish.  Usually I can cruise along here but there were quite a few 5K runners finishing.  Not to mention in the last quarter mile there are a lot of turns and some hills.  You have to run along a wobbly, plank boarded underpass and then up and over a short but steep hill into the village.

I did what I could to push but this was no ordinary fast finish.  There were too many places where I had to slow up, watch where I was running and ultimately the last 50 yards was lined with people.  I had been cruising at 7:30 minutes per mile and suddenly had to slow to a job to wait for an opening.

I resigned myself to not being able to fly through the finish -- which is a very tight right hand turn followed by literally 20 steps  (or less).

Smiles after the race


So I crossed the finish line in 50:08, officially.  The course came in at 6.24 on my watch, so perhaps a smidge long, but I want to say it was spot on.  The course was flat, so I knew I wasn't going to nail an over the top time.  

Medal and t-shirt

I grabbed a finisher's medal (which were very nicely designed and felt heavy) and took a seat out of everyone's way.  The air temperature was cool and I was radiating steam.  

I had mixed feelings about the race.  I was pretty happy that I won my age group and all things considered, I had run fairly well.  But I didn't really hit my "A" goal, which was 49:30-ish.

There were just a few miscues along the way: icy bridges, a crowded final half mile, and my allergy attack.  I think these cost me a few seconds. Still, though, this race is likely to be my last 10K race of the year.

Lama from the petting zoo.

I did finish first in my age group, so I went home with an extra medal.  They were nicely designed this year and felt heavy.  The t-shirt was reminiscent of their first t-shirt, but not polyester like I like.  They had a nice spread of food at the end: oranges, granola bar, ice cream, candy and drink.

Overall, I like this race. I've done it every year since its inception and there is a really nice local run vibe to it.  I saw so many friends and it was nice to catch up with people.  

I do miss the night runs though, but I think with the morning version, my times are better.  It is also nice to have 3 distances to choose from.  I still enjoy the simple 10K -- it's further than a 5K but not as exhausting as a half marathon.

I plan on attending next year.

Upcoming Races

10/07: 2023 Apple Harvest Run 5K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
10/21: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/28: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Can't Make It)
11/04: Vineyard City Blizzard 5K / 10K - Vineyard, UT (Maybe)
11/11: Sandy City Turkey Trot 5K - Sandy, UT (Maybe)
11/18: 2023 Snow Canyon Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
11/23: 2023 South Davis Recreation Center 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
01/13: 2024 Virgin River Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/25: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
04/202024 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
07/242024 Deseret News Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed
09/07: 2024 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)
10/XX: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)

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