The Santa Monica 5000 (now in its 8th year) is a fun local race that benefits the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation. You can feel good knowing that your entry fee is going to a great cause. You can choose between a 10K, 5K or 3K family dash. No matter what distance you pick you will be running with several high school groups (the majority do seem to pick the 5K distance). The 5K starts first with the 10K going a ½ hour later and then followed by the 3K. This year the start was delayed about 15 minutes… a minor inconvenience, but it was a little hot so I would have preferred to start on time.
REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP- The race is fairly priced (between $35- $45), so not a bad deal at all and again the funds go to a good cause. One nice thing about the packet pick-up is they offered a location for people in the valley (like myself) as well as one in Santa Monica. There is also day-of-race packet pick-up/registration. The “day of” registration was one of the reasons the race was delayed today, so it could be handled a little better in the future.
T-SHIRT/PRIZES/SWAG- A nice change for the race is that the race shirt is a technical T-shirt (many 10Ks offer standard cotton shirts). Granted the color (white) and design are both basic, but at least I can proudly wear this shirt on future training runs. No finisher medals for the masses (top 3 in each division get one) but I’ve never felt the need to get a medal for finishing a 10K. No additional swag, but again not something you’d expect for a local 10K.
COURSE- The Santa Monica 5000 is a modified “out and back” course starting a bit south of the Santa Monica Pier (in Ocean Park), heading up Ocean Avenue and heading up San Vicente before turning around at 11th St. (for the 10K). It’s basically running the last miles of the Los Angeles Marathon in reverse. The course is basically flat and fast with a very slight incline/decline on San Vicente (you will like the subtle decline on the way back around mile 4). You are sharing the road with cars at times separated by cones (one lane is set up for those drivers who just can’t wait for a race to be over) but the local police kept things in check, so no complaints there.
COURSE SERVICES- A very limited number of porta potties at the start area (might want to go before you arrive) but I didn’t have to wait long to use them…if there were any porta potties on the course I sure didn’t see ‘em. Water is something to consider… water was available at 1.5, 3 and 4.5 miles. Unfortunately, they only had one or two tables manned by volunteer kids. And while the kids did their best, they couldn’t keep up with even a minor demand. I just carried my own water and I recommend you do the same to save you time and frustration. There are first aid stations situated along the course and at the finish. Mile signs are present at each mile, but no running clocks save the ones at the start and finish, so bring your own watch if you want to know how you’re doing. A few photographers dot the course so there will be an opportunity to get a shot or two on the course, but no “finishers photo area.” If you want that “I survived” photo, carry you camera with you or make sure your friends/family at the finish line have theirs.
FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY- Right at the finish line you can expect some water, but to get the any other food/goodies you have to walk down to the Santa Monica Pier for the post-race party. It’s not a bad spread given the size of the race, a few vendors handing out food and info along with a local band playing some tunes. The race also brags about their “pancake breakfast” for finishers. The problem is the 5K runners have about an hour headstart over everyone else picking through things and gobbling up food, so by the time us 10K runners finish (remember we start a half hour later and run twice as far) things are pretty picked through (hard to find fruit) and it feels like we’ve gotten to the party as it’s winding down. It’s not the first time I’ve witnessed this and it’d be nice if the race organizers could find a way to keep things pretty and stocked for the 10k runners.
All in all though, the Santa Monica 5000 is a fun no-stress kind of race and a good lead in to the fall racing season. I’ve run it before and I plan to run it again as long as it doesn’t conflict with other major races.