The PAL Artichoke Festival 5k/10k is run every Mother’s Day and benefits the Monterey County Police Activities League. It’s a small (about 100 to 200 participants) local run that goes through the artichoke fields. The race is usually held a week before the Artichoke Festival and registered runners get an entry to the Artichoke Festival plus a t-shirt and, harvest permitting, a bag of artichokes for each finisher.
I was signed up for the 10k but ended up dropping down to the 5k. Physically, I could have finished the 6.2 miles. Mentally, it would have been a miserable 6.2 miles. I would have spent the entire time worrying about being a slow runner and being the last runner to cross the finish line. Because the 10k field was so small, I most likely would have won an age group medal even if I finished last! That’s the beauty of smaller races.
The crowd was a mixture of families, couples, moms and children, and friends. The check-in desk was staffed by children in the PAL program. All check-in issues were handled promptly and with a friendly smile. The event organizers might want to make sure they have more medium and small t-shirts on hand next year.
The course is an out-and-back course that starts with a stretch of paved road and then turns off into the artichoke fields. Once in the fields, runners are on agricultural roads, which are rocky dirt roads. Footing is a bit treacherous because the rocks are too big to be considered gravel and too small to be considered obstacles. The course runs along Highway 1 and then goes under the Highway 1 overpass and into more artichoke fields.
The race started on time and we took off quickly. I had to concentrate much more once we turned onto the agricultural road because I didn’t want to twist my ankle on the loose stones. It was a perfect day for a race – slightly overcast and chilly with the sun peeking out midway through the race. Once I turned to go under the overpass, I could see the 5k turnaround – a fire truck was parked on the side of the road and a water station was set up there.
I decided that I wasn’t going to get water and would just turn around and head back to the starting line. As I watched a couple of runners continue past the turnaround, I knew I had made the right decision in dropping down to the 5k. It looked lonely out there.
Post-race goodies included bananas, oranges, bagels, and water. Women were given a pot of petunias for Mother’s Day and all racers got a bag of artichokes (3 big artichokes in each bag).
I tried to wait around for the awards ceremony because, just like at my first race of 2011, I had a feeling that I had won an age group prize. I had watched the returning runners on my way to the turnaround and I didn’t see very many women who looked like they were in my age group so I was fairly confident that I would at least be 3rd in my age group. But, knowing that my mom had a great breakfast in the works won out over waiting for the awards ceremony. I learned today that I did win a prize in my age group but haven’t confirmed if it was 2nd or 3rd. Gotta love being older!
I was able to give my mom her traditional Mother’s Day gift – an entry to the Artichoke Festival and a bag of artichokes – plus a pot of petunias. This is a great little local race and I definitely recommend it.