Early yesterday morning, my father and I took the short drive down to Wilkes-Barre for the 29 annual Bernie’s Memorial Fourth of July Race. It’s one of the most popular races in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, with a turnout well into the hundreds. Surprisingly, I had actually never had heard of the race until about a month ago when I was looking for some road races to do this summer. But now I can definitely say I’m glad I came across it.
The course is extremely flat and fast. There is literally not a single hill on the whole course. As such, it lends itself easily to fast times and possible PRs. However, worthy of note is that the race is in fact a 3 miler, not a 5K. Back in high school, I used to think to myself, “oh well, that’s basically the same thing.” And that’s simply not the case. Depending on factors such as your pace, possible hills, fatigue, etc, that extra tenth of a mile in a 5K could make a difference between 30 and 45 seconds. An 18:10 certainly isn’t anywhere near the same as say a 17:35. That said, as long as a road race clearly says that it is in fact a 3 miler, I have no issue with that at all. But if it’s advertised as a 5K but is only three miles, then you run into problems with timing.
I ended up really enjoying this race. It had a great turnout of runners and one of the deepest competitive fields of any race in the area.I didn’t fully make up my mind to actually run the race until the night before, figuring since I was planning on doing a tempo anyway, I may as well jump in a race, especially since I haven’t raced since mid March. I raced exactly how I wanted to as well. Fast starts can ruin a race, especially on a hot day like yesterday. So I went out somewhat conservatively with a 5:25, then went negative splits the rest of the way. The second mile was about 5:19 before finishing with a 5:09. In the end, I got third place with a 15:53.
Unfortunately, the race directors suffered some kind of power outage that knocked out the computers they were using to tabulate the results. Old-fashioned timing methods might be less efficient than chip timing, but they sure are more reliable. Anyway, aside from that one little issue, it was a well-organized race that I quite enjoyed and might well return for next year. Chris Wadas won the race in 15:15, while Jess Adams finished just in front me in 15:51. On the women’s side, Heidi Peoples won in 16:24. The timing situation eventually got resolved and the full results are posted here.