It’s hard to believe that we have already entered our third season of the Atlanta BeltLine Running Series. It seems like yesterday the committee was forming and we were talking about what we needed to do and when. Our first event was held on April 27th, the Atlanta BeltLine Northside 5K, which went really well. We had over 580 registrations. However the day certainly started out very questionable. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time sleeping the night before a big event or presentation yet I managed to get some sleep despite having to wake up at 4 a.m.
We headed out towards Tanyard Creek Park after a little breakfast. The first thing we had to do was put out a couple of directional signs. The park is a hidden jewel and hard to see from the road. We then put out the main water station with supplies before heading to the park. There is a gravel lot that enters the park directly off Collier Road that makes life very easy to drop off supplies. Otherwise, we would have had to walk through the dark woods.
The rental truck was loaded with: thirty tables, a dozen chairs, lawn bags that had goody bags for 600 runners, enough bananas and organic pears from Whole Foods to feed those same 600 runners and a pallet of Coca Cola product for nourishment. You can imagine this truck was loaded down with a lot of items! Oh and of course we can’t forget about the 700 shirts and age-group awards. This all had to be unloaded and set up before 7 a.m.
When we got to the park, we received an unwelcomed surprise – a locked gate. You can imagine that my heart sank, but I stayed in control and decided to find a solution at 5:30 a.m. But, what could I do at that hour? Not much! So we moved the fully loaded van around to the nearest cul-de-sac and walked back into the park. It started to dawn on me that my race timer needed access to the park as well as all the vendors, including our radio station. So, this was a major obstacle. As we started to walk back towards the gate, we saw some lights and thought could this be the parks department showing up to unlock the gate. Instead, it was my race timer!
Nobody had tools to unlock the gate so we tried to figure out how to get the gate open. We called security and they reached out to the parks department but only got a voice message. Spending 30 minutes trying to figure out what to do, we finally got the gate open with no damage and we were able to get vehicles into the park. This is why I like to get to events early in case of unknown disruptions like this. Soon after, the vendors and volunteers started to show up and the runners began to trickle in.
At this point is when all the chaos occurs. Volunteers, vendors and runners show up during setup. With so much activity happening at once, it’s important to be able to be quick on the feet and improvise. Thankfully, most of my committee has been with me for all three years so we have a lot of familiarity with what needs to be done and it gets done fast. Registration was set up and all of the tables were unloaded. We also create a post-race vendor layout as a guide, but we always have to change things on the fly. Sometimes we don’t know what a vendor might bring.
To me, this is a special 5k because of the challenge between the Atlanta Police and Fire Departments. This one was great with over sixty participants from the APD and over twenty from AFD. Both teams were in uniform and lined up on opposite sides of the field like two teams getting ready for battle. They were doing their warm-ups and drills and it seemed like they were psyching each other out. It was great!
We also created our very first youth run and what was somewhat funny is that we had a hard time tracking all the kids down because we started the youth run about one hour after the 5K, which created some distractions. Because we had a post-race challenge between the Atlanta Fire and Police, everybody was hanging out there watching this about the same time we needed to start the kids fun run. We had about thirteen kids so we asked some volunteers to go out and be a guide so the kids knew where to run. One of them came back and said the kids just shot out like a cannon and they had a hard time keeping up, which made us all laugh.
It was a great day overall but then it was time to see who won the Atlanta Fire and Police Department Challenge. Were the Atlanta Police going to win three years in a row or was the Atlanta Fire going to win? It was a close race, but the Atlanta Fire ended up winning with a team finishing time of 1:46:26 to 1:49:35!
The race seemed to end pretty fast, starting on time at 8 a.m. We had the rental truck reloaded shortly after 9:30 a.m., but our day wasn’t over yet. We had to return the tables, chairs and the truck. After returning the rented equipment and rental truck, I had to go present at the Cobb Galleria. When I returned home, I loaded the results into the online community to reward the runners with points so they could track their accomplishments and redeem awards.
It was late Saturday evening when we wrapped things up and the next day was a lazy, rainy day but soon afterwards we began planning the July 13th 5k!