Today was the 7th annual Bellevue 10K/5K Run, which I believe was only a 5K Run for the first three or four years. Even so, it’s been around since 2007, and I just got around to running it this year.
There were 1,044 finishers, according to the results page — 510 in the 10K and 534 in the 5K — so it is a growing event, but still a smaller one with mostly Eastside participants. For me, today’s 5K race was a bit nostalgic, as the course included parts of the old Seafair Half-Marathon and Seafair Marathon that I conquered in earlier, faster days, before my ankle problems surfaced. (Bear with me here, as I start to get into course-atology.)
The Seafair races ran in Bellevue from 2003 through 2008, but were always under pressure to become a destination race nationally and generate 10,000 or more participants, which they never did. The 2008 marathon and half-marathon came the closest — that year, the races started in front of Husky Stadium in Seattle and runners came east across the State Route 520 floating bridge (a first for an area race). It was a seriously hot June day for that race; temperatures reached above 90 degrees (ugh!). Plus, there was this bus-ride snafu that many may remember.
A year later, the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon organizers took over the race, took the course away from the Eastside and into Seattle, and have since generated races with 20,000 or more participants in each of the four years. The Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series is a national brand with rock bands playing along the course; hence its name. (This year’s Seattle event is June 22.) I did the marathon in 2010 and the half in 2009 and 2011, and it is indeed well-organized.
The Bellevue 10K/5K Run is financed by the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club and 15 or more corporate sponsors, and likely is not under similar pressure to generate high numbers. So I expect it to be around for awhile, though there was competition today from the Heroes Half in Everett and the Top Pot Doughnut Dash in Seattle’s Green Lake area.
Now, the real course-atology
The Bellevue run starts and finishes in the Downtown Park, just like the Seafair races did, except for the start of the 2008 one in Seattle. The 10K/5K starting line on N.E. 2nd Street is near the same spot as the starting line for the 2003 and 2004 Seafair races, when it was a half-marathon only. And the 10K/5K course runs east on N.E. 2nd, up a challenging hill and down a steep drop to 112th Avenue N.E., just as the inaugural 2003 race did.
The Seafair courses, interestingly, were changed at least three times due to runners’ complaints about the hills. The 2003 half-marathon course included tough hills in the Kelsey Creek area and again on N.E. 8th in east Bellevue; the course for 2004 was completely switched around to avoid those hills and to go north and south more than east and west in Bellevue. There still were hills, because Bellevue has hills, but not as many and not as steep.
The first Seafair Marathon course in 2005 again drew runners’ ire, as it went east from downtown Bellevue all the way to West Lake Sammamish Parkway, then south to I-90 and back along a circuitous route. The hills were deceptive and somewhat maddening. The next year, the marathon was almost completely re-routed, going north into Kirkland and east to Redmond and back to downtown through Richards Road near where I live. That course was only slightly amended for 2007, and then hugely overhauled for a last-gasp 2008 race that drew a higher turnout but apparently not enough to keep the race going.
I did both Seafair Half-Marathons in 2003 and 2004, and actually got my half-marathon PR (1:55:33) in the 2004 race. I also did the four Seafair Marathons (2005-08), and recorded OK times (my best was 4:38 in 2007) until the 2008 race, where the 90-degree heat just got to me. I finished, but only after getting hosed down several times by charitable residents spraying the runners who requested it.
Back to today’s race
But, I digress (yes, that was a big digression). I thought about all this today as I covered 3.1 miles in 41:35, a 13:25 per mile pace. Largely because of the hills on N.E. 2nd and going up Bellevue Way to the finish line, I failed to improve on last week’s 5K time in the Seahawks 12K/5K Run. Full results for the Bellevue 10K/5K Run are here.
The climb up N.E. 2nd, followed by a huge drop, made me think about the first Seafair half. And, in three of the four marathons, the last 1.5 miles was a jaunt up Bellevue Way, which was an exciting feeling because you could smell the finish line after a long, hard run. Today’s last 1.5 miles for the 5K went up that same stretch, and today’s home stretch was more laborious than exciting, but I did enjoy reminiscing.
Also, I felt good about pushing myself up that last hill, and being able to do so without serious pain or further ankle damage. A shout out to the sponsors: The finish line was great, with lots of food, drinks and swag. Surprisingly, I went for a cup of Starbucks Pike Roast; very enjoyable on a mild, overcast day.
Oh, yes: The rain stopped as the race started and didn’t pick up again until after I had finished.
But after six races in 2013, I am giving my ankle a rest until this summer. Time to get serious about training for some long bicycle rides.
If you’re still reading this, thanks! Till next time.