On 10/6/12 the boy and I decided to participate in the first Neon Night Run (5k) in my hometown. There was a lot of buzz surrounding the event and it was expected to be a lot of fun.
Every so often the Facebook page created for the event would send out updates about the race including their guest DJ and what to expect during the race. In one of the updates, they suggested bringing a flashlight for the event but said it was not necessary as the event would be lit. They also said to expect obstacles, a lot of distractions, and a lot of colorful lights. This event sounded like a lot of fun from the start and I was totally excited once I signed up.
They offered packet pickup at a local nutrition shop and for it to only be a one day affair, the night before, there was barely anybody picking up their stuff! Now, it very well could have been because I arrived about 30 minutes after they started. But it seemed kinda slow. So at this ‘packet pick up’ we received our complimentary t-shirt (which was kinda lame. Plain white with a dark purple logo. Uh, where is the neon, the bright colors? This could have at least had some glow in the dark action going on… anywho) a finger light (that shined no further than my shoe), a glow stick bracelet and a glow stick necklace, and a 21+ beer bracelet with one complimentary beer for the night. I ran to the dollar store and picked up some extra glow accessories so the boy and I could be all neon’d up and stuff.
A couple of days before the race, there was an email sent out regarding start times. Originally were were scheduled to run the 7:00pm time but due to the sun still being out, they pushed it back to 7:30 and 8:30 which turned it into two different starts instead of the original four.
So, we arrive at about 6:00pm when our run time was scheduled for 7:30pm
Next, we crack open our glow stick accessories and start to neon ourselves out.
We had about 3 glow necklaces, 6 glow bracelets, and glow sticks on our shoes. I also had some glow bracelets in my
pony tail puff
And then we wait…
And then wait some more
Is it dark enough yet?
Finally, it is dark enough and we are told to line up at the starting line. The boy and I took our placed towards the back since we are still used to having approximately 5 minutes of a walk warm up before running. We also wanted to get used to the terrain before going for it.
We set off on our warm up walk. People are passing us and the further we get away from the start the less light there is.
This must mean we are in for some neon distractions and decorations! I think to myself.
We pass a neon sign for New Castle. Like the ones you find in your guy friend’s bachelor pad. The obnoxious ones you put in storage if he becomes your mate. Yeah it was lame.
I gave it the benefit of the doubt and figured maybe this was just an advertisement and not what we were really getting into.
We turn our first corner. It is pitch black and you can see runners but instead of runners, they look like invisible creatures with neon suits. Almost like aliens about to take over the world. This pumped me up a bit. I got excited and was anxious to see what came next.
As we turned deeper into the trees I was expecting all of the fun they kept hyping earlier. The neon lights, the obstacles, the fun.
Where is the neon?
The course was still pitch black! The only neon you could see was the glow sticks and accessories other runners were wearing. There were no distractions, nothing colorful…just darkness.
I am totally disappointed at this point.
We keep going because of course we are going to finish this!
I notice that not a lot of people have the head lamps and flashlights they suggested using. Perhaps they thought it really wasn’t necessary since that is what they said! But really, you needed a flashlight. The terrain changed at a moments notice and since it was dark out, you found out at the last minute. It went from gravel to sand, to hills to paved, to pot holes to dirt…everything you could think of. But because it was dark, you couldn’t tell what was going on!
We come to our first obstacle.
It was a half wall we had to climb with no illumination.
We, along with all the other runners, went around it. The volunteer just stood there saying “OK, you can skip this one. I will let you guys just go around it.”
You could start to hear some of the frustration and disappointment in some of the other runners. We were in shock that what we had paid for and was was advertised was the exact opposite of what we were experiencing.
Every once in a while you would come to a corner that had a couple of standing lights colored bulbs, or a string of Christmas lights. Oh and the best of them all were the single random flashing buttons they threw on the side of the course.
This is it?
This is the neon distractions I was promised?!?!
The next obstacle was a bunch of Christmas lights strung on a couple of poles which we were supposed to ‘limbo’ under.
Again, people went around it. They were placed way too low and it was starting to back up. This ‘was’ a timed event, the backup would have cause a lot of extra time. So no. People chose to go around it and we went with them.
We came to one ‘neon station’ that had a table with a vintage light that was replaced with a colored bulb. There was also a generator that flashed a light that lit up a good distance of the route ahead. But then it was gone and you were back into pitch black and now a narrow path.
Oh, and did I mention right next to you was water? So one wrong step and you would either run into trees and then into the water…or right into the water.
We approach the final stretch. At least what I think was the final stretch. There were no mile markers. The volunteer, the only one to actually give us some help and information, said there was a little bit ways to go until the end and one more obstacle. He also told us to watch our step as the terrain turned from gravel to beach sand going uphill and then back down.
Here comes the final obstacle…
Wait. I don’t see it!
If it was not for the group of teenagers singing Call Me Maybe that ran to the side of the course (which has now opened up and is running alongside the parking lot and lit from the parking lot lights) and jumped onto the monkey bars we would not have seen them. But we kept going to the finish and left that last obstacle to the teens.
We approach the finish. We can hear the DJ doing his job and I look up to see what our time is.
They never turned on the clock.
At this point I am really disappointed and feel bad that this was the boy’s first race and I didn’t want him to think it was lame. We catch our breath and head to the ‘after party’
Yeah, see those 5-15 people. Those were the only ones on the dance floor. The rest were in line for beer the whole time.
There were a couple of vendors there. But they were too expensive for my tastes. They had an on the go burrito catering company come and they offered burritos and plates (meat, rice, beans…) for $10 each!
Who pays $10 for a burrito?
Not this girl!
Next up were the cupcakes.
Honestly, I would have bought one. But with it being so late and I just did this race…a cupcake was not for me.
We hung around a little bit longer to see if things would pick up. Sadly they did not. So we made our way back to the car and came back into town to find something to eat. We ended up at Applebees and so did a lot of other runners.
I wanted this to be a fun run.
It was, only because of the company.
I give this race an overall D what was advertised was nowhere to be found throughout the race. The after party should have been going when people arrived. Perhaps the volunteers should have volunteered to dance and party…not drink and eat. Also, it was too dark and dangerous to have that many people with no illumination throughout the course. The complimentary items did not work. Our finger lights did not make it to the end and the glow accessories they provided never lit up. After party food was too expensive and I don’t drink beer/the boy doesn’t drink much anymore so the free beer was wasted on both of us.
Will I do it again.
Not a chance.
But, the race did lead to a new before and after of the two of us. Showing our progress the last few months.
I went back to look at comments from other runners at this event. They have now removed all the comments from their facebook page and now are not allowing people to comment.
I guess others were disappointed too.