This recap is a bit belated, but Matt and I enjoyed running the Auto Show Shuffle 5K on Saturday, January 17th. The race took place in downtown Detroit on the opening day of the North American International Auto Show. Aside from a triathlon on Belle Isle, I’ve never run in Detroit and thought this race would be a great chance to change that.
I always wait until the last minute to sign up for races during the winter to avoid slippery surfaces and other miserable conditions. When I saw that we were going to have a “heat wave” and warm up into the 30s the day of the race, I decided to go for it. I didn’t think about how the warmth would arrive by mid-afternoon, so it was actually pretty cold for the 8:30 start. We’re used to it though, so it just meant lots of layers. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning.
I was able to pick up our packets at the New Balance store in Troy a couple days before the race, so it was one less thing to do the morning of the race. We received long sleeve tech shirts. It’s not what I typically think of as technical because the heavier material of the shirt isn’t really good for wicking sweat. I might not wear it while I run, but I do really like the shirt.
The race started and finished in front of GM’s Renaissance Center – probably the most identifiable feature of Detroit’s skyline.
We had heard about issues exiting the designated parking garage after last year’s race, but we decided to park there anyway. It was cold enough outside that I didn’t want to park somewhere else and walk several blocks, and this specific garage has a skywalk into the RenCen. The RenCen is a beautiful building, and it was nice that we could stay warm in the Wintergarden area both before and after the race.
To avoid the crowd, we ventured over to the food court restrooms. A woman there glanced at my bib and simply said, “Oooh.” The woman at gear check also commented on my bib. Why? Well, I ended up with number 666. I wasn’t thrilled, but luckily I’m not very superstitious and figured it would keep things interesting!
As we watched the sun rise over the icy water of the Detroit River, I was really glad we chose to run this race. A brief quarter-mile warm up made me aware that I wasn’t going to be especially speedy. I didn’t have any real goals for this race pace-wise, knowing the cold (and numerous layers) would slow me down. I was just excited to run along the riverfront and take in the scenery.
As expected, I really enjoyed running along the riverfront. About a mile into the race, we got to the Dequindre Cut – a really nice and wide paved path. I was impressed that the snow had been completely cleared and the path was totally dry. We ran out about half a mile on the path before turning around and heading back along the riverfront. The course was flat, but I didn’t feel like I had much speed in me. The cold air and congestion made it hard to breathe, so I gave it the best effort I could manage. I was surprised to finish in 21:40 – just nine seconds slower than my PR. However, my Garmin had the race a little short.
A number of people questioned the length of the course on the race’s Facebook page. The course was USATF certified, and the people in charge of the race said that running under several overpasses on the Dequindre Cut could have caused our watches to lose their signals in spots. I’m still a bit skeptical. My watch and the first mile marker were right on (prior to any overpasses), and I ran 7:14. Based on effort, I could feel that I slowed down as the race went on – reflected in my Garmin’s splits. Had the race been an accurate 5K, that meant I would have averaged a 6:59 pace. Starting with a 7:14 mile, I seriously doubt I sped up enough to drop my average to 6:59. Who knows though. I know the watches aren’t always accurate, and it’s fun to think that I was nearly on pace for a PR. I ran this race for the experience rather than aiming for a certain time, so it’s not really a big deal either way.
Matt and I finished within seconds of each other, so we got a few quick pictures outside the RenCen before heading in to get warm. I pulled my face mask down for most of the race, but this is how much we bundled up!
I enjoyed hot chocolate and a bagel in the Wintergarden area, and we stuck around for the awards ceremony. Awards were given to the top three men and women overall, and the top three men and women in the masters category. Neither of us were fast enough for those awards, but I was happy that I pulled off third in my age group and Matt placed fourth in his.
We hustled to the parking garage as the awards ceremony wrapped up, and I figured that we might beat a good chunk of the crowd. I was wrong. When we got to the parking deck, the cars were backed up for three levels. As I mentioned earlier, I’d heard that it had been a problem in the past. With only one exit open, it was a SLOW go trying to get out of there. Maybe next time it would be worth a hike through the cold from a different parking area to avoid that mess.
Overall, it was a fun experience. I hadn’t raced since October, so it was nice to get back to the race environment. I’m really glad we finally made it downtown for a run. I’d like to do more races downtown, and maybe one of these days we’ll try the Detroit half or full marathon to run even more of the city.
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography