Running is hard and painful, but there’s something motivating about a race. Especially for people like me who think walking down Congress Street is a competition.
For runners — both casual and super competitive — who want to race without much fuss (no colored corn starch or muddy barbed wire), there’s the Back Cove Races in Portland. $20 buys you in to a 5K race around Back Cove every Wednesday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day — about 15 races ($1.33 a run). The money goes to Portland Trails — and at about $10,000 a season, it’s one of the nonprofit’s biggest fundraisers.
5K is a democratic distance — the fittest of the fit go for speed and are exhausted, the less-than-fit people can totally make it to the finish line without dying. John Rogers of Fleet Feet Maine Running, which helps organize the races, said a bunch of people walk the races. Whatever your pleasure, each runner (or walker) gets a number that stays with them through the series. Races are clocked and the times are posted online so you can track your progress through the summer (or not).
“We have a dedicated and social group. Participants range from runners seeking the four pair of shoes (the prize to the fastest runners in the series), to runners and walkers using the event as a workout,” said Rogers. “It’s become a summer tradition for many runners and generally is considered the kickoff of Portland’s summer running and racing season.”
WHO: You? (Anyone.)
WHAT: Back Cove Race summer 5K racing series. It’s a weekly 5K on the Back Cove Trail. Racers get one number for the whole series and are timed. The times are put online and the fastest people in the series win running shoes.
WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day (so they start May 28)
WHERE: Races start at the beginning of the Back Cove Trail, directly across from Preble Street Extension, on Baxter Boulevard and they finish by the athletic field and new Yardscaping Gardens.
WHY: Because … health? Fun? To make friends? Because you look at that one Facebook friend’s near-daily updates about how much she loooooves running and you both want to be her and punch her. Your choice.
COST: $20 gets you access to all the races. Registration is open.
LIMITS: Once you register, you have to RSVP to each weekly race. Each race caps at 250 people for safety reasons and to be respectful of other trail users. About 600 people usually sign up for the series.
MORE INFO: www.backcove.runtowin.com