When this race is called the happiest 5k, they are not kidding. After deciding to try this fun race out last year, I was hooked. I’m competitive about getting better with my running and race against myself most races, so it’s nice to have a run where I can let it all go and have a little more fun. Last year, my daughter begged to do this year’s run, but after her boredom and being “tired” in the two 5ks we had done together, I had to think about it. Medals are always a nice thing for me and once she saw the theme was unicorns and the medal would have a unicorn on it, she promised no whining.
Unlike last year, packet pickup was much closer to us. The race is run at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is a bit of a drive from our house, but packet pickup was at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which was going to allow for better at home prep since this year we were going to be able to color our own bibs. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my six year old loves to color, so this was going to be great for some mom and daughter time. Packet pick up was easy peasy and I was on my way back to work with swag bags containing some boring looking (for now) bibs, shirts, tattoos, water balloons, and some sponsor items. The best were bags of Lays Poppers, which were chips, but little round poppable bites. Even my picky eater loved them, so double win!
Due to having a work event at the first ever game at SunTrust Park, I got home a little later than I originally had wanted to, so I knew race morning might involve some grumpies. We set to work coloring right away and we each had our bit of creativity going. After the kiddo went to sleep, it was flat runner set up times two and time to try to get some sleep. She was excited, so I was even more excited myself. Last year, I arrived before 7am, but because I had picked up bibs in advance, my goal was to be down at Atlanta Motor Speedway by 8. As anyone with kids knows, sometimes you have last minute changes and because her tutu was going to itch her legs, we ditched shorts for capris. And because twinsies, that meant me as well. With a few stops on the way, we were within sight of an entrance at 8:15 (miracles do happen!) and parked by 8:30.
Because we were a little later than planned, we didn’t get quite a much fun pre-race stuff in since the porta potty line was long. Because the kiddo was grumpy about bring cold, I believed her when she didn’t need to use the porta potty pre-run. On our way to the start area, someone finally smiled at the sight of bubbles near the unicorn inflatables, and I finally was getting her into the happiest 5k business. We had about a twenty minute wait before we were off and we ran for a few seconds before the kiddo decided to walk. About ten seconds later, the words I did not want to hear came out of her mouth. Those words were “I have to go potty.” Seriously, we had just started. After discovering a track bathroom was locked tight, we saw a porta potty ahead on the course, well after we went the other direction first and through the first color station. I urged the kiddo to move and we made our way around to the pink color station. It was a super windy morning so I had to make sure we were on a side to get hit with color vs it all going flying in the wind to never see us. Within a few seconds we had some pink color on us (as did Runi the Unicorn) and then we were waiting in what seemed like a never ending line at the lone porta potty. Luckily some of the line was friends waiting with friends, so we were on our way soon.
Upon rounding the corner outside turn 3 of the track, we saw the dream wall that we could sign or write our dreams on. Easily the worst “hill” of the course was upon us as we had to go up the ramp that led to the former backstretch (or originally front stretch) grandstands where we could see the track and see the green color station. I took advantage of taking some pictures, but the girl was more interested in getting to the green station. I was excited that because the track repave had been postponed there were cars on the track, probably from one of the NASCAR experiences, but it made me incredibly happy to have cars on the track! The green color station was a liberal application and I thought I was going to spend the day with a green tinged arm.
We went down the ramp on the turn two side of the track and hit the water station where I thought the little one water station etiquette. As we kept moving toward more color, some younger folks hit us with a tiny bit of water from water balloons and that started a car versatile with a super sweet lady. It was a little rude of the young people, but could have been a lot worse. It allowed me to encourage the lady who started talking to us as her friends chose to run and leave her behind. I was sad for her as with this being fun and untimed, I felt bad her friends left. She seemed to have a great attitude about having fun and finishing and I enjoyed getting to talk to her. Sadly we lost her in the purple station, but I’m hopeful she finished.
The purple station led to some great, colorful faces. We had a long stretch of not seeing the next color station, but the kiddo did not complain once. On the way to yellow, we passed the graveyard on speedway property. By the time we got to yellow, color was lacking, so we made our own fun with all that was on the ground. It was just down to rounding turn one and going through the foam zone before finishing. The foam zone was a huge win for the kiddo and she might have stayed there all day. We finally moved on, finished and collected our medals.
I was able to exchange a tank top I had purchased online (for being too big, yay!) after retrieving it from the car. We didn’t stick around much longer as we wanted food. Post AMS tradition now means Waffle House, so we did that, especially since our state was not frowned upon and other color runners thought the same thing.