Name of the race: O’burg 5K
Where: Ogdenburg, NJ
Date: June 20, 2015
Time: 9:00 am
Terrain: Rolling hills, small section of grass and gravel, at Mile 2
Entry fee: $30 race fee ($25 + $2.50 before June 12th)
Swag: Snack pack, lump of zinc mineral, water bottle, cotton t-shirt
Post-race Food: Oranges, bananas, water, mini bagels from Bagel Tree
Performance: Overall: 53/303; Gender: 9/172; Age Group (30 – 39) 2/51
Weather: 64 degrees, 64% humidity
Whenever we travel, I like to see if there’s a local race that we could do. This past week we were vacationing near the Delaware Water Gap and I poked around Running in the USA, a fairly complete directory of races around the USA, to see if there was a 5K somewhere. After about a half hour of searching, I found the perfect 5K – O’burg 5K, a Major Race in a Miner Town!
Ben and I love 5Ks for many reasons, but the average 5K is not really all that spectacular in terms of scenic courses, cool prizes, or finisher medals. Our expectations for a 5K are modest – be on time, have enough water on the course and after the course, and the course be clearly marked. We tend not to travel far for 5Ks, especially since 5Ks are a dime a dozen where we live.
Then out of nowhere, there are races that intrigue and surprise you. O’burg 5K grabbed my attention by advertising that its course goes THROUGH A MINE TUNNEL! How unique is that! I just had to do this race and it wasn’t hard to convince Ben into signing up as well, despite the fact that it was a 45 min drive away. It might be a bit far to drive for a 5K, but we thought it was well worth it for the cool experience.
I wish race directors of small local races would remember that not all of the racers are local, and thus it would be a good idea to give clear directions to where the start/registration area of the race is. The address that was prominently displayed on the webpage was the mine’s address, which was Mile 2 of the race. We were able to find the start area because all the local people know what’s going on in their town even if they’re not participating in the race. Eventually we found the start area, registered, got our swag bag, and pinned our bibs on. Ben was wondering what to do with our bags because there was no bag check and we were afraid that we didn’t have enough time to put the bags in our car (unfounded because it turned out we did). I noticed that several people simply left their bags neatly lined up along the edges of the parking lot where the registration was. I told Ben to leave them there, but he was worried that they might get stolen.
“Am I being too New York?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered, “We’re in a small town. Nobody is stealing anything here.”
After convincing him to leave our bags there, we walked over to the start line, which was by a school. With a blare of a horn, we were all off. The rolling hills made the course interesting. The first mile was all downhill, so I had a fast mile. Mile 2 was fairly flat except for a short steep grass-covered hill going up to the mine and then there was a gravel pathway to the mine, which came right before the Mile 2 marker. A volunteer yelled out my split “14:40” just before I disappeared into the mine.
We ran through one of the tunnels of Sterling Hill Mine, a zinc mine, now a museum. The tunnel was dark, but they lit the tunnel fairly well, so I didn’t have trouble seeing in the dim light. You needed to be a bit careful running through the tunnel because the tunnel was on the narrow side, so if you wanted to pass, you had to do it carefully. Also there was water dripping from the ceiling and some puddles. I carefully picked my way through and I don’t think I lost all that much time going through the tunnel. It was just so cool running through. The bad part about running for a good time was that I couldn’t stop to take photos. Instead I enjoyed the displays from the corner of my eye as I sped through. My Garmin watch lost connectivity while I was in the mine, but I expected this. It reconnected when I popped out on the other side.
The last mile was tough because it was hot and uphill. I definitely slowed down for the last mile. I got a bad side stitch, so I actually walked for a few steps while going up hill to alleviate the pain. Then I picked my pace up again to hurry to the finish line. For the last half mile, another woman caught up to me and passed me. I was only a few feet behind her, and as much as I would have loved to have sprinted down, catch up, and pass her, I didn’t have anything left in me. I knew I couldn’t beat her because as she passed me, I could see that she was running and breathing easily while I was laboring hard. Even if I had enough energy to sprint, she had tons more energy left in her to go even faster.
Finally I crossed the finish line, and I was pleased to see that I came in under 25 minutes. My official time of 24:38 was good enough for 2nd place Age Group award (30-39) and Ben got 1st place for his age group. Winners all around.
I was impressed with the swag and the prizes for this race. The top three overall winners for men and women got really cool trophies. The 1st place AG winners for the children’s category got watches. The swag bag contained a great snack pack (goldfish crackers, POP chips, bag of cashews, granola bar, and fruit snacks) that we eagerly devoured in the following days.
I really love this race. I think it’s the coolest 5K that I’ve ever done (including the Dash to the Finish 5K that the NYRR holds). Running through a mine tunnel makes this 5K unique and adds a different experience. For the most part, I thought the race was well-organized. The two places where they could improve is in providing better info to the start line and parking on the website, and starting the award ceremony sooner. The award ceremony started 1 hr and 10 min after the race began, which meant the winners had a very long wait after they crossed the finish line. I think the award ceremony should start at the latest, one hour after the start of the race. Other than that, I had no other concerns. I definitely recommend doing this race if you’re in the area. I like this race so much that I’m tempted to do it again next year even if I have to drive all the way out from Brooklyn. This should tell you how much fun I thought this race was.
After the award ceremony, we went to Roseline’s Farm and Bakery for breakfast. Roseline’s a nice place to eat because they grow many of the ingredients that they use to make your food. Ben had the three egg breakfast sandwich and I ordered pancakes with apples and apple compote. The pancakes were very fluffy and delicious. We sat by floor-to-ceiling window and stared out onto the fields (where someone was busy working) while we ate.
Ben discovered something fun while looking at Google maps. We’ve read articles about funny and cool things that people have found using the Street View of Google maps, but we’ve never found one ourselves until now:
What’s the coolest 5K that you’ve ever done?
Have you ever found something funny or interesting using the Street View of Google Maps?