The Seattle Mariners don’t sponsor a road race in the area, and I wonder how popular it would be if they did. I’m a die-hard Mariners (dying hard these days), and I would sign up for it. But would thousands of others? Also, how much would the Mariners spend on it, and how well organized would the event be?
I thought about this last Sunday, after running in my fifth Seahawks 12K/5K Run, and then watching the Mariners give up a 9-3 lead to the Angels in the 9th inning and lose 10-9, to finish the season’s first week at 1-6. The Seahawks have given us a Super Bowl victory and have played in three Super Bowls since 2005. The Mariners have not been in the playoffs since 2003 and have never made it to the World Series.
In this post, I won’t try to compare the two organizations. Everybody knows that one has a better track record than the other, and one has Seattle’s attention much more than the other.
I just want to bring it up to point out the Seahawks do a great job with the annual Seahawks 12K/5K event. I enjoy running it each year. 2017 was no different, even if my times are not improving.
Reasons to like this road race
Why do I think the Seahawks do a good job with this run?
The Seahawk presence is huge: Several Seahawks’ Sea Gal cheerleaders were prominent at the starting line, and so were members of Blue Thunder, the team’s all-purpose marching band. And there was Blitz, the Seahawk mascot. Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis fired the starting gun. All in all, the Seahawks organization was well-represented.
- The shirts and medals are always classy: I liked this year’s event shirt — a long-sleeved tech running shirt with a hoodie — as much as any of the five I have now. I liked it so much that I wore it on race day (usually I don’t wear an event shirt until after I have completed the run).
- There are more than enough volunteers: Lots of course marshals and others are on hand to keep runners going the right way, staff the water stations and hand out medals. But it so nice to see other volunteers offering encouragement and high-fiving runners on Lake Washington Boulevard. Most runs don’t have this volunteer support.
- The 12K course runs along Lake Washington and includes a loop around the Seahawks’ training facility: For at least some people, getting a chance to see the Seahawks’ headquarters building (the Virginia Mason Athletic Center) and the team’s lush green practice field is one of the biggest attractions of this run.
The Seahawk costume contest afterwards gives you a reason to stick around: I’d say 95 percent of the runners and walkers are dressed in Seahawk blue (or green and blue). Some go overboard with their outfits — many of these folks do it to enter the costume contest, where the prizes include game tickets and gift certificates to local restaurants. My vote went to the guy who dressed like a Seahawk blue alien from outer space (but he didn’t get first place).
Watch the video on the Seahawks 12K Run home page for a good look at the highlights of the 2017 event.
About my race
I came away satisfied with my steady pace and my ability to finish with a bit of a kick, passing a few people. But when I found out my time, 1:40:53 (a 13:11 per mile pace), I was disappointed. It was behind both the 1:38:46 time I recorded for this race a year ago and the 1:39:32 I clocked in 2015. Full results are here. (My 12K PR is 1:06:57, run in 2005.)
The course is mostly but not completely flat. It has these annoying rolling hills on Lake Washington Boulevard that expend some energy to climb. But they aren’t that difficult, even if most of the run (about 4.5 miles) is an out-and-back on Lake Washington Boulevard.
Despite my slower time, it was an exhilarating run with a spirited group of mostly Seahawks fans (I also saw fans of the Packers, Chiefs and 49ers doing the run). The weather was very accommodating as well, as the rain took the day off, the sun came out, and temperatures were mild and in the 50s.
Bottom line: I can’t see not doing this run again.
Turnout drops again — and what’s next
Some 4,805 runners and walkers completed the two races — 2,524 in the 12K and 2,281 in the 5K — which is a surprising decline from last year’s 6,113 total and the 9,448 of 2015. I attribute the drop to simply more competition from an increasing number of area races.
It was great to see runner friend Mark Nelson on the 12K course; he’d just come out of the loop around the Virginia Mason Athletic Center as I was headed in and we passed each other on Lake Washington Boulevard. His wife Tyra, my former Zones teammate, ran the 5K, so I did not see her. Both ran great races! Congrats, Mark and Tyra!
Shelley Way, a former Microsoft teammate, finished just ahead of me in the 12K. Nice job, Shelley! Sorry I missed you. Congrats to all of the finishers.
My next event is a bicycle ride on April 29 called the Major Taylor Project. Organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club, the ride is 24 miles long through West Seattle and neighboring communities, and benefits youth cycling programs in that region. It sounded interesting enough for me to spend a few hours supporting this cause.
I will run again in the Fiesta 5K Ole! Run at Seattle’s Volunteer Park on May 6 (which will be my 210th road race). I had a blast doing this race last year with several runner friends I work with at Allytics. I am also considering running the Kirkland Mother’s Day Half Marathon a week later on May 14.
Thanks for reading! Happy Easter, everyone! Till next time.