I’m drinking my Monday morning coffee from a brand-new travel tumbler, my reward for a smart surge near the end of the Razor Sharp Minds Fall Classic 10K in Menomonee Falls.
I don’t often win age-group awards, so even the second-place prize in the always-tough 45-49 group was wholly satisfying, much like the block of cheese I claimed a few years back in the Navarino Trail Run.
The useable hardware also validates my racing theory: it’s not how fast you run but the races you pick.
I favor smaller events, a couple hundred people turning out to support a charity, test their fitness, chase personal goals and explore new routes by foot.
Those suburban streets around Menomonee Falls High School roll beautifully, uphill and down, past parks and neat lawns for a 10K course that tests strategy as much as lungs.
I’ve found other advantages to racing small: a line maybe five-deep and not 15 for the portables; an atmosphere that gives old friends time and space to catch up during warm ups; the opportunity to make last-minute clothing changes via a quick walk to the car, rather than a desperate heave over the fencing; and room to maneuver right from the start, even if someone stops to pick up their keys seconds after the gun.
I like being able to look around and assess nearly everyone in my race - all 135 of them in the 10K on Sunday. The bright jerseys sported by the groups in Performance Running Outfitters’ Get Fit program formed a solid and joyous block. Their colors and spirit stood out even amid the autumn colors.
You'll find them easily in the photos posted by Bill Flaws, from Running in the USA.
Aaron Nodolf, a local attorney, elite runner and founder of the Razor Sharp Minds Foundation, has organized the Fall Classic for four years. The proceeds go to help fund research to cure Alzheimers disease and dementia.
Online registration has some advantages, but being able to walk up to the registration table and know that my entry fee, a bargain at $27, is going solely to the race organization, is another bonus of a smaller venture.
The competition is friendly. The prizes are useful and within reach, even for the slow-of-foot. The fastest won jackets and back-packs, and the post-race raffle provided something for about everyone who stuck around for bagels and bananas.
I have to say, I feel pretty smart this morning drinking coffee from a Razor Sharp Minds mug.
The results: Chris Knutson, of Menomonee Falls, won the 10K race in 33:34, comfortably in front of Robert Duncan, 29, of Franksville. In the women's division, Molly Woodward, 21, of Waukesha, ran a 41:02 and had a three-minute margin at the finish, over Risa Berg, 40, of Milwaukee.
In the 5K, Eamon McKenna, of Milwaukee, set a course record with a 16:02 that had him more than 90 seconds ahead of Tom Knutson, 23, of Menomonee Falls. Cindy Ceplina, 41, of Menomonee Falls, took the women's 5K in 22:16. Wanda Erickson was second in 22:46.