The Footzone 5K in Redmond, Wash., is the only race I know of in and around a shopping center parking lot. As you can imagine, the course is flat, with lots of turns — it’s actually a loop course through the Redmond Town Center street mall that you run twice.
I wouldn’t usually get excited about such a race, except that some of the Seattle area’s fastest runners do it every year at the end of the first week in August. It’s also a chance to see how fast you can go without hills, cars, or bicyclists threatening you (all traffic is diverted during the race).
But since I am trying to nurse a sore ankle back to health, I didn’t sign up for the race this year, and decided to do it as a spectator. It gave me a chance to finally see the front of the pack, something I rarely have been able to do as a runner, and to cheer on my training partner, Stuart Glascock of Seattle.
The 2010 Footzone 5K, which I just came from, was run in overcast skies and a slight drizzle — not the usual intense heat you get this time of year in the Puget Sound area.
As far as who won, it wasn’t much of a contest. Aiden Irish, 19, a University of Portland standout sophomore who previously ran for Redmond High School, took control early in the race and won comfortably in a swift 15:12 (a 4:53.54 per mile pace).
Steve Dekoker, who challenged Irish at the very start but fell back and remained in second place the whole way, followed in 15:38 and David McCullough was third in 15:39.
I’ve done the Footzone race myself four times in the last six years (based not on memory, but on the number of Footzone 5K shirts I have — red, gray, yellow, and last year’s blue). While I am never in the front of the pack to see, I know from hearsay that this short, fast race usually comes down to a sprint at the finish. Not this year.
Irish said afterwards he was surprised he wasn’t among a pack of runners crossing the finish line. “I was a little annoyed actually,” he said with a grin. “I didn’t want to try and lead the whole way. But it was fine how it worked out.” This was his best 5K time ever, he believes, and he did it while fighting a cold, he said.
The woman’s race was won by Maddie Meyers, 15, a junior-to-be at Seattle’s Northwest School, in 17:28. Meyers, a two-time state 1A cross-country champion and winner of five state titles in track in her first two prep seasons, took the lead in the second lap and won by 15 seconds over second-place Chandler Olson.
Lauren Matthews was third in 17:52 and Erica Pitman, who led over Meyers at the halfway point, finished fourth in 17:55.
Because this race occurs just before the start of school and the fall cross-country season, many high school runners use it as a tune-up. Out of 416 finishers today, some 80 of the runners were aged 19 and under.
Another 55 were aged 50 through 69, providing a nice balance of age. My training partner, Stuart Glascock, ran a respectable 22:40 to get 10th in his men’s 50-59 age group — which was won by Joe Sheeran, ninth overall, in a strong 16:07. (See full results here.)
It was nice watching from the sidelines for a change, seeing elite runners hammer through a short distance with speed and grace and seemingly minimal effort. But next year, I expect to be back running again, watching them from behind.
Till next time.