by Drew McCormick
-Waking up the morning of the 16th Annual Doc and Mardie Brown 5K, as many of the participants could attest, was a strange morning weather wise. It looked as if it was going to be cool but it wasn't really (mid 70's) and it was as humid as ever. If us Mainers weren't already used to it, the weather may have been downright debilitating. There with that out of the way, on to the race!
Arriving at the Waterville Alfond Youth Center was a little different due to the construction going on in the parking lot, but there was still plenty of room. I parked and got my race bib from some very friendly volunteers, and saw the race director Patrick Guerette zooming around! I informed him I was ecstatic that he would not be able to run this race, and that it gave me a chance for the age bracket win! I then headed right over to the Central Maine Striders tent for some pre-race nerve talk with Kate, Ron, Ryan and Julie which helped as always, I was then off for some warm up miles. There were racers warming up along North Street and everyone was friendly saying good morning to one another. Just an all around great feel/vibe to the air.
First up was the kids fun run which had an incredible turn out this year and was fun as advertised! I was lucky enough to help a little bit during the race by standing on the last turn directing the kids to the finish. It was a blast seeing the expressions and determination on the kids faces as they rounded the corner for the finish line! Directly after the fun run was the main event...the 5K!
Runners started lining up along the marked area for the race start on North Street headed toward Colby College as always, however road construction prohibited pedestrians from passing along the normal route. Patrick, the fearless race director (mentioned earlier), mastered the art of the pivot and laid out a new dynamic course which incorporated the trail along the Messalonskee stream behind the Alfond Youth Center. As the racers were lining up at the start the mood was light and jovial, Patrick said a few words thanking the sponsors, volunteers and participants then we were off!
Ron Peck and I charged out head-to-head as we bobbed and weaved through the pack from North Street onto the trail. The low light level in the trail due to the cloud cover made it a little extra difficult to navigate through the roots and frost heaves in the pavement but it was a neat change to the sudden and extended uphill start of the normal 5K race route.
Once we hit the road the race seemed to kick up a notch in speed, (Ron pulled ahead!) there is something about being in the open air and out of the tree cover. A fairly quick uphill on Edgemont Ave, then a long turning downhill from West St. onto Gilman St. made up the route until you hit the N Riverside Drive neighborhood where you made a short uphill loop. Just before the entrance to the neighborhood is where I made my glorious passes of Connor Pellerin and Ron Peck!
The plan was then to boogie back to the Alfond Youth Center by way of North street where you made a glorious finish under the big blow up finish line arch! I am happy to say the plan worked and I came in 2nd place with an official time of 18:57! After I caught my breath for a few I was able to socialize again and cheer on friends and other fellow participants.
The event flowed very smoothly with awards being distributed immediately after the race. The amount of prizes this year was spectacular with there being about 50 participants, a lot were reaping the benefits of their hard work! All in all this is a fantastic race regardless of the course layout. It has a real "hometown" feel as one of the racers, Andrew Catalina, said to me and that's why I personally like it so much. I hope this race continues to grow, if you were on the fence about racing this event in the past have no fear this is a fantastic event that skips all the "tude" and focuses on the FUN! See you at the 17th Annual Doc and Mardie Brown 5K! (PS: Don't forget all Striders get a discount on the race fees!)
(Full results from the 2021 Doc & Mardie 5k can be found here: https://my.raceresult.com/177915/results)