Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
Take my breath away
The Flagstaff Folk Festival this weekend is an annual tradition with me, and last year I added this race to that tradition. Flag reminds me of the Pacific Northwest where I grew up, and it’s usually 10-20 degrees cooler than Phoenix. Also, the high altitude is good training!
I set out from my hotel about an hour before start time. It’s about a mile away from the start line, so I run/walk down Route 66 to Wheeler Park and stash my ratty jacket in the cook of a tree; unusually for Flag it’s already too warm for that. A friend from Tuesday track finds me; she lives here over the summer, lucky her. I go over to join her “other” running group and we chat until start time.
The course loops through historic downtown, then heads out into the moderately hilly suburbs. The altitude is getting to me, but after Kitt Peak I resolve not to walk any of these hills. Eventually the 10K-ers split off from the 5K-ers. The volunteers are abundant, and so are the spectators, sitting on lawn chairs in their front yards. The course is very meandering , so the volunteers really are vital to point us in the right direction. I enjoy the smell of the pine trees and the beautiful gardens – I miss being able to grow those flowers here in the desert! The race encourages costumes, but I don’t see too many – there are a few gals with tu-tu skirts, but no Mr. Incredible this year. I cross the finish line and my camera catapults out my back pocket onto the pavement. Back in the day, that would’ve meant the camera popping open and film spilling everywhere. Today, a kind volunteer simply picks it up and hands it back to me. Time: 1:09:55.
Time – not great, not terrible, I think a few seconds better than the only other 10K I’ve run at this altitude. (I don’t have a lot of races this length to compare it to.) I don’t see the folks in the running club I was taking to before the race – they were mostly 5K-ers, so they may have already left – so I walk back to my motel, picking up a really good latte from a tiny coffee stand on the way.