My best friend is a runner too! We came to find the sport through middle school track and then our eyes were opened to road races in the community with the Downtown Dash, Jingle Bell 5k, TR and River to Bay, Island Heights. 

Fast forward almost 30 years, while she only lives in West Jersey, we don’t ever run together, but that is ok because she has her running buddies with the Hill Runners of Hunterdon and I with ORC.  So last month, I convinced my mom to go up to her club run at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside for their Annual Pie Run! 

It’s not just another group run. When entering for the 10k you also submit your predicted finish time. The only prizes awarded are for the first and second males and females that come in closest to their predicted times. Neat right!? So the objective is to know your pace. Most importantly you cannot wear any timing device during the run. You have to truly know your body.

The second fun aspect of this run is that runners start based on their predicted time. Have a slower pace, you go out early. You have a swift kick, you will go later and pass much of the crowd. If predictions are accurate, all finishers should finish around the same time. ( In 2022 they finished within 30 seconds)

The day of, we pulled in to the parking lot, only a few cars were there and the race total ended being around 25 runners and probably 5 volunteers. Race entry was food pantry donations and a food for post race breakfast. There was a pre-race meeting where one club member drew our attention to the course drawn on a chalkboard and noted it is primarily a counter clock-wise route with a small bridge, and train tracks. Oh and they even printed out large and small maps if anyone would like. I was in the back of the group and glanced at the course, but was more excited to just get running. After the talk, they said the slower runners could head out to the start. 

I think three or four runners took off before my mom and I and then we had a 10 second countdown. Yay, we were headed out of the park and then got to the crossroad, hmm left, right? Well it was pretty much counter clock-wise right? Did we grab a map since we have never run here? (Don’t answer that) We went left and started up a small incline. But wait, when I asked if there were any hills he said, No, not really except for coming back into the park.” Well I guess we will find out if we see other people or not. Our normal chit chat and run commenced until… we reached the stop sign and wait, there was no one there to say what way and we did not see anyone AT ALL. Umm dang! We must’ve went the wrong way. (Side-note: Since we didn’t have our phones I couldn’t call my friend to ask if we went the right way or not or know exactly how far we went in this direction)

Back toward the park…no one, no one, then finally two guys were running down that first little hill and then we spotted one woman up the road. Well, we definitely went the wrong way, but at least we were headed the right way now.  What started off at a 10k was now more like a 7 miler, but hey what’s a little more distance. ? Right? 

The course turned out to be very scenic, hills in the distance, sheep to the left and some beautiful homes and other friendly runners that came up on us as…umm yeah they had a faster pace. As we ran down the road back in and saw the runners ahead making the turn back in the park we were smiling that our extra long journey was coming to an end and we could enjoy the post-race festivities and find out how our pace was. We decided to keep our mixup to ourselves for now : )  Newbies to the area. 

We enjoyed the conversation with new friends and the top female was only 10 seconds off of her predicated time and the top 3 males ( since they ran together) were….. 2 SECONDS!! WHAT!!! How amazing is that! What a fun morning to run, see a new place, meet new runners and possibly take ideas back to start a new tradition for our club : ). 

So! Moral of the story is… if you are going to run a new route ALWAYS pay attention to where you need to go and don’t depend on other people to guide you. No matter if you have been running for 30 years or more you can still get lost.

Run Happy Everyone! KEEP GOING!

Mindy : )