The Mogathon Race Report

I did it. 😉

I had been looking forward to a fast fall 10K, but after the drastically short Heartbeat Run 5K course I changed my plans to try for an official 5K PB before the snow flies.

The Mogathon has been around for a number of years now in Saskatoon, but I’ve always had scheduling conflicts that have prevented me from running it in the past. I was excited to finally get a chance in 2013!

The swag bag every Mogathon runner gets is famous. I was absolutely floored by the stuff we got: a tech t-shirt, a buff, a wristband, a gift card for a free frozen yogurt from Pure, flip flops, a gel sample, other samples and coupons, plus a reusable shopping bag to hold it all! All this coupled with chip timing, the many race-day events and attractions and a post-race catered BBQ made the somewhat higher than typical race entry fee well worth it.

A whole lot of swag!

A whole lot of swag!

My Mom usually watches the kids for me when I race, but she and my Dad had lake plans the weekend of the Mogathon, so my mother-in-law and all three kids came along with me. No one likes to wake up early, but four and five year olds are pretty difficult to get up and get going earlier than they’d like. After some persuasion and a few dramatic collapses on the floor, we were off.

I had been worried about the parking situation, in that there is none. Anything close to the Friendship Park start/finish point is metered or timed pay parking. I didn’t want my MIL to be worried about feeding a meter and watching three kids at the same time while I was running, so I opted for the “park across the river for free and walk” option. Luckily the kids had woken up and were excited by the time we got there, so the 10 minute walk wasn’t a problem at all.

Checking out the river on our walk across the bridge.

Checking out the river on our walk across the bridge.

This race features a staggered start, with the 30K, half marathon, 10K and 5K all starting at different times. This made the start area less congested and bathroom lines short. I found my race buddy Morgan and we went to warm up while the kids and Grandma checked out the numerous family friendly activities – a big bouncy castle, Warren the Balloon Guy, face painting, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles! (Wow, if ever there were a race you should take your kids to, this is definitely it!)

After a few minutes of wardrobe indecision (no one is surprised at this right?), I settled on shorts and a tank top. I had been planning on short sleeves and capris, but it was warming up and the sun was out, and I hate being over-dressed when I run.

Morgan had texted me the night before the race to discuss our usual pre-race things. A friend of hers was involved with the race, and apparently there had been some road closures since the route was planned and they suspected that the course may now be about 200m short. Gah! Not again! There was NO WAY I was missing my big PB goal due to a short course again, this time I vowed to keep running if the course was short.

We lined up at the starting line where I saw a friend from our twin club, Gill. The start line instructions were given by two local radio DJ’s, and then we were off.

Saskatoon has quite a varied terrain. Races can easily be flat or hilly, depending on where the course loops. Most (if not all) races focus on our scenic riverbank, and certain sections of it can be quite hilly. This was a challenging course with several big climbs and a couple of bridges. The water stations were lively, and some volunteers were even in costume! (In the post-race email survey you could vote for your favourite water station.) There were also two people dressed as gorillas handing out bananas. I’m not sure why I would eat a banana partway through a 5K, but it was amusing nonetheless.

After the last big hill climb we got to coast down the Broadway Bridge and loop around into Friendship Park. At this point the race committee had planned a split finish line. To avoid congestion, they were directing half the runners left and half right, to two separate finish lines. I found this really confusing as there was a lot of “orange shirt go right,” “who, me?” sort of exchanges and people not really sure where to go. Again, there had been a staggered start, so it was mostly 5K runners finishing at this point. With only 230 5K runners, I think the split finish line was really unnecessary and was actually confusing to a lot of runners and spectators. People there to watch someone finish didn’t know where to go!

I ran across the timing mat and glanced at my watch. 4.8 km. There were volunteers handing medals out to finishers, but standing off to the side instead of approaching runners as they finished. I ran to the sideline, grabbed a medal from a woman whose arms were laden with them, and took off in a dead sprint to finish my 5K. When I told my husband this story later he said “was everyone looking at you like you were crazy? Or a thief?” Likely, but I was the crazy person running away from them as fast as I could, so I didn’t see their expressions! I sprinted down the (closed) street and under the Broadway Bridge. Just on the other side of the bridge my watch beeped for 5K and I stopped it. I dry heaved a couple times (haha, true story!), then looked at my watch. 24:57.

I was thrilled. I have no idea what my actual race time was, but I know it took me some time to get that medal before my mad dash for 5K. I was afraid though, that if I came strolling back from the wrong direction they’d think I was trying to steal an extra medal or something, so I wanted to get one when I came to the finish line the first time. Even with that delay and the hills on the course (it’s very flat where we live, so I struggle with hills), I had achieved the goal I hadn’t reached two years ago. This goal has been nagging at me for two years, and I am thrilled to finally achieve it. Now I can slow down and go back to longer distances.

photo (52)

According to the online race results I finished with a 24:06 chip time, 21st out of 230 runners. There are no age group or gender results listed.

I found my fan club (one was mad because he’d turned away for a minute and missed my finish) and had a bottle of water. My cousin, who had walked there from her place, found us and we tried the BBQ. There was also beer gardens, but it was pretty sparsely occupied. I can’t imagine too many runners wanting a drink after a big run, and it was still only about 11:00 in the morning… I’m sure the licensing and tent rentals for the beer gardens cost a lot, and was something that could easily be eliminated in future years. I think the organizers have visions of this becoming something of a family event and festival, but the time of day runs are held aren’t exactly conducive to beer drinking.

Overall, this was a great event, and one I will try to run again next year. Racing during harvest time is tricky, but this was a really good one to make an effort for. The tough course, nice shirt, medal (for a 5K – rare!), kids’ activities and food made it a great day. The drawbacks for me were the parking (even just moving this to a Sunday when meter parking is free in Saskatoon would help), and the confusing finish. I also hope that the money spent on having a beer gardens that likely didn’t pay for itself will be donated to the event’s chosen charity instead in the future.

Next up, the Sask50 Ultra. Well, not really. More on that soon!

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3 responses to this post.

  1. I had two beer after the race and it was busy by this time. The longer runs really create a thirst, lol. It was a confusing race at times as you mentioned but still was a great event. I’ll do it again next year!! Gotta run.

    Reply

  2. […] 2013 was my first year running the Mogathon, and I really enjoyed the race. It was a perfect mix of quirky (gorilla handing out bananas along the route), fun (bouncy castles and balloon animals for kids), and serious (chip timing, medals for all distances), and the live music, BBQ and beer gardens at the finish line lend a festival-like feel to the whole day. With my favourite fall race, Day of the Dead, cancelled for 2014, this was to be my last main event for the year. I wanted that PB so bad I could taste it. […]

    Reply

  3. […] music and chip timing, this event is second to none in Saskatoon. Here are my race reports from 2013 and […]

    Reply

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