The Crim truly is a walker friendly event! We had a good time while we were in Flint this weekend! Here's my synapses:
The expo was in a new location this year. It was a little bit tight, but was well organized. They were nice enough to squeeze me in between two walking clubs. The new venue was more than 2 miles from the start of the race. Historically, the expo is open race day, and people wander in and out from 6:30 a.m. to noon while waiting for their race to begin or for their friends and family to finish. I'm not sure how it went this year because I didn't go to the expo on Saturday.
Race day, we got into Flint nice and early to avoid the road closings. We went to the late packet pick up area to get safety pins which we both had forgotten the day before. The University of Michigan pavilion is a nice facility and there were plenty of people sitting at tables and relaxing before the race.
There were lots of port-a-johns at the start. They were just a little too close to the starting line, however. When we lined up at the sign for the competitive walkers, we were up against the people waiting for restrooms. There ended up being lots of people behind us, too. It was nice seeing a "pace" sign for competitive walkers!
It was hard to hear ANY announcements, but most races are that way when you are at the back. We didn't even realize the national anthem was being sung until about halfway through the song. It rained a little as we waited for the start, but not hard.
It took just a couple of minutes to reach the starting line. The crowds thinned out fairly quickly though our first mile was almost 15:30. It is nearly impossible to get lost at the Crim - just follow the blue line painted on the street. The blue line has been there so long, they didn't get to repaint it this year because of weather, and you could still see it. The mile markers were not only on big signs, they were painted on the street. Very cool!
The streets were lined with spectators. It had been raining and people still came out to cheer participants on! What really surprised me was the number of residents who voluntarily set up their own water stops. I skipped several regular water stops and there was STILL plenty of water every where. Several people also handed out ice which was appreciated.
One fraternity early on the course was handing out Krispy Kreme doughnuts. My walking partner, Chris, did take one. I don't think sugar and grease would have sat well in my stomach that early.
The big party (I can't remember exactly where it was) handed out beer and hot dogs. If they had been closer to the race finish, I might have taken them up on it. The party was pretty roaring and they were having a great time.
There were several bands along the course, though I mostly remember grade school and high school band students. There were a couple church groups that sang for us, one Christian rock band and several church groups that prayed for us. (When one woman said I was "special" I took it as a good thing.) There was a large group of people in one yard all playing makeshift drums that was pretty cool. They were all ages, and I'll never forget seeing the women who was older than my mom beating a plastic bucket with a wooden spoon.
When you are close to the finish line, you reach the famous bricks of Saginaw Street. The street is pretty cool, but it was difficult to walk fast at that point because some spots were a little uneven. We tried anyway.
We crossed the finish in a little over 2 hrs and 30 min., averaging about a 15-min mile. We moved past the chip removers, received our medals and had easy access to water, bananas and apples. There were tons of tubs filled with wet cloths to wipe the sweat. It had started raining again as we finished, so I really didn't need it.
After we went through the gauntlet, there was a huge community party. A big tent had barbecue and other food items for sale. We had the option of getting free pizza and beer with our bib (the line was too long for us), and Earth, Wind and Fire was getting ready to play on stage. If it had been sunny and dry, we would have stayed. As it was, we were soaking wet and both had long drives home.
The winning walker was a woman who finished about an hour before I did. I was just at the Crim web site and forgot to look up what prizes they offered.
Regardless, it is a fun weekend in Flint. There are plenty of races for those of all abilities and the after party is a lot of fun! If you need a race in August, head to Flint.