Chick-fil-A Race Series: Ella’s Race Recap

Since many races occur in March and April, I seem to now associate races with the kick-off to spring! After our weekend travel plans changed at the last minute, we decided to run the Chick-fil-A® 5K and 10K in North Raleigh, part of the Chick-fil-A® Connect Race Series. Officially called “Ella’s Race” in memory of Ella Newmiller, the race benefits the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and The Cure Starts Now to help pediatric research, aid and support efforts for children with brain cancer and tumors.
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Packet pick-up:
This race offers multiple times and locations for packet pickup: Fleet Feet North Raleigh 12 pm-2 pm or Chick-fil-A® 5 – 8 pm on Friday, or race morning. Very convenient! Since I work near Fleet Feet in North Raleigh, I went over around lunchtime on Friday. With two employees manning the check-in tables in the store, check-in was very fast – no line when I was there! I got both my and Mike’s bags with our bibs and shirts, as well as an assortment of other goodies. Bonus: four safety pins for the bibs were included in each bag. Usually I forget to grab safety pins when they are just out on the tables so I appreciated this extra detail.

Bag goodies: Water bottle, Redken shampoo and conditioner, Downy unstoppables and, my favorite, a Chick-fil-A coozie!

Bag goodies: Water bottle, Redken shampoo and conditioner, Downy unstoppables and, my favorite, a Chick-fil-A coozie!


The hot pink race t-shirt was a first for us! Mike wasn’t quite as excited as I was. Unfortunately, a women’s cut wasn’t offered – just youth and unisex sizes – but that’s usually typical for 5Ks. I’m mainly not a fan of the longer sleeves on the unisex shirts. But it was nice the race had a dri-fit tee rather than a plain old cotton tee!
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Similar to last week, it was nice not having pre-race jitters, which I get especially before 5Ks. I find 5Ks the hardest distance because you really have to push yourself if you want to race it. I prefer 10Ks or half marathons where I can get in the groove and relax into a pace a bit more. However, I love carbs and used the 5K as an excuse for an egg and cheese bagel sandwich on Friday!
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Race Day:
It’s nice waking up relaxed on race day morning! This is probably only the second time that has happened (along with last week’s 5K). I rolled out of bed at about 6:45 am, changed, ate a Picky bar, drank a glass of water and was good to go!

After a week of temps in the upper 70s, a cold front arrived so I pulled out the capris and Lululemon Run Swiftly long sleeve tee. Pinning a race bib on a seventh-month pregnant stomach is tricky. I needed to do it while I was wearing my shirt to ensure a suitable bib placement.

Sponsored by Chick-fil-A® at Falls Village and Capital Crossing, the race start/end was just across the street from the shopping plaza. Arriving at 7:30 am, we had no problem finding parking in the shopping center. The festivities were set up in a central area, off to the side from the start/finish line. There were probably about six tents and tables devoted to packet pick-up (many people must pick up the morning of the race), as well as sponsor tables, face painting and multiple bounce houses for kids – a very family friendly race. The music throughout the morning was fantastic, adding to the festive, fun atmosphere.

Pre/post race festivities area

Pre/post race festivities area


Cow dancing with little girl -- We thought this would be the only cow... little did we know what was to come!

Cow dancing with little girl — We thought this would be the only cow… little did we know what was to come!


Cows parading to start line -- to help kick off the 10K!

Cows parading to start line — to help kick off the 10K!


The 10K began at 8 am with runners, including Mike, lining up shortly beforehand. It appeared that most people would be running the 5K. Announcements were easy to hear with the great sound system. Unfortunately I missed most of the announcements because I ran to use the portapotty quickly before the 5K start. However, Mike filled me in on what I missed. The owner of both sponsoring Chick-fil-A® restaurants spoke followed by Ella’s parents, thanking runners for their support.

Meanwhile, I was making one last bathroom stop at the portapotties. Though there didn’t seem to be that many bathrooms for the number of runners (1,200), there was basically no line. I waited for about two minutes. When does that ever happen before a race?!

Basically no portapotty line - AWESOME.

Basically no portapotty line – AWESOME.

With a 8:10 am start time, 5K runners lined up a little after the 10Kers took off. There were a few signs so you could line up around your pace. 8:00 was right up by the start line, with 9:00 a little behind. I lined up near the 10:00 sign. This race also seemed to attract quite a few walkers (marketed as a run/walk), so many people lined up further back than 10:00.

I also noticed many of the cows loading onto golf cars and disappearing down the race course. I soon discovered that they were getting positioned along the race course to help cheer on runners (well silently — they don’t talk) and hi-five us during the race! How fun!

I’m glad Mike had created an elevation map prior to the race so I (and he!) knew what to expect. It was hilly! Although starting off on a long downhill was fun, I couldn’t help think about how that would feel at the end of the out-and-back course (answer: long).

5K Elevation Map

5K Elevation Map


Though hilly, the course was really nice through a residential area by North Ridge Country Club. There were lots of volunteers and plenty of cones to encourage runners to stay on one side of the road for the out-and-back course. The course was pretty crowded at the beginning but quickly thinned out.

I stuck with the same strategy I adopted for the Sola 5K. I ran down hills and “power” walked up the hills. That seemed to work out well! The hills seemed longer than last week’s course, so it felt strange at times to be walking for such a long period of time during a race. But I thoroughly enjoyed the downhills!

The thing I enjoy about out-and-back races is seeing all the runners on the other side of the road from you, after the turnaround. I get a boost of energy with the concentration of runners. Plus, it’s a good feeling to see runners coming towards you because you know the turnaround can’t be that far off!
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The turnaround area was tight. There was a water station by the turnaround which added to the congestion. I’d suggest moving it to perhaps just past or just before the turnaround to help minimize some of the congestion. Turnarounds are awkward to begin with so adding the water station with cups thrown on the ground, just made it worse. However, there were quite a few volunteers manning the station so people seemed to move through it quickly.

After the long downhill to the turnaround, it was a long uphill immediately afterwards. Runners around me seemed to start slowing down here and many switched to walking for the uphill.

The second half of the race flew by! I started getting bladder pressure around mile 2, not surprisingly, and was slightly concerned with the long uphill to the finish. I walked it but found it hard to hold back knowing the finish (and portapotties!) was so close! I ran the last little bit uphill and enjoyed the brief downhill to the finish line! Crossing the finish line – whether it’s for a walk, a run/walk, a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon or a marathon- always feels great!

There was a cameraman right at the finish capturing runners as they crossed and the photos were posted on Facebook and Flickr a few days later for free downloads.
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Finish Line:
The finish line chute was short and well-organized. Runners were ushered over to the Chick-fil-A® food/drink tent. I couldn’t believe the spread! We could choose from chicken biscuits, sausage biscuits or plain biscuits. There was also yogurt and fruit parfaits with granola from Chick-fil-A® as well as bananas and water.

Post race food! Chick-fil-A!

Post race food! Chick-fil-A!

Usually I don't feel like eating right after races, but I ate all of this!

Usually I don’t feel like eating right after races, but I ate all of this!


Mike wasn’t in our pre-planned meeting spot so I realized I might be able to catch him cross the finish line! A few minutes later I saw him finish and we enjoyed our Chick-fil-A® in one of the grassy areas by the start/finish line festivities.
Nice to have lawn area to relax on post-race!

Nice to have lawn area to relax on post-race!

Mike has more self control and is not devouring his chicken biscuit immediately

Mike has more self control and is not devouring his chicken biscuit immediately

There were so many employees and volunteers working and we watched them quickly flip over some of the pre-race packet pick-up areas into stations to check your results on computers. Nice! The results posted at that time were by gun time, not chip time. Mike came in 1st in his age group with a time of 44:23! And I was surprised to find out I came in 8th in my age group with a gun time of 32:33.

We had time to kill before the awards ceremony at 9:30 but there was pretty good entertainment to fill the time. Many people participated in the 1 mile run/walk. Others hung out around the music area where the DJ kept the kids (and adults — and cows!) entertained with hula hoop contests, raffles (based on bib numbers), dancing, etc.

SO many cows!

SO many cows!


I really like the idea to give the award winners medals, rather than give medals to all race participants. First, second and third place winners for each age category in each race were announced. Winners went to designated tables to pick up their medals. I was surprised the medals were the same for all three winners; I was expecting them to be progressively larger based on placement or to say 1st, 2nd or 3rd place winner. Mike received a medal for his first place age group award. I’m really proud of Mike but also a little jealous of his medal! 🙂
Picking up his medal

Picking up his medal

Award winner!

Award winner!

Theming on this race was spot-on

Theming on this race was spot-on


Overall, an excellent race that I think we will be making an annual tradition!

Pros:
– 1 mile, 5K and 10K options offered
– exceptionally well and professionally organized
– Chick-fil-A® at the finish
– loved the community and family-friendly feel
– supports Ella’s charity
– reasonable price
Con:
– pink tee probably preferred by females and no gender specific t-shirts (but if they did offer, registration price would probably be higher…)

Thank you to Chick-fil-A® at Falls Village for having me run the 10K!
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6 comments

  1. David K · · Reply

    Great post! I love the detail…felt like I was there! (almost). Thanks! Looks like the race was exceptionally well-organized, well-attended, and a lot of fun. Love the herd of cows!

  2. […] last run was the Chick-fil-A Races Series: Ella’s 5K on March 19th when I was 28 weeks pregnant. I didn’t plan on that being my last run. I felt […]

  3. […] awesome race! Unfortunately we’ll be out of town this year for it. BUT we will be running Ella’s Race Chick-fil-A race series 10K (also a 5K option which I ran/walked last year). We both loved this race and plan to make it a […]

  4. […] to try to do yoga one day and run one day during the week. Also, as I mentioned, we are running Ella’s Race, part of the Chick-fil-A race series, on March 18th. If you’re interested in running a fun, family-friendly 5K or 10K, register here […]

  5. […] I hadn’t run in a week in a half so was glad my body remembered how to run 🙂  I don’t think I can really do a full race recap because we arrived just before race start and left right after (it was raining…). But be sure to check out my review of the race from last year! […]

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