[This race report was submitted by club member Len Goldman]
On February 23, I ventured to Southern California to run in the Brea 8k. Unfortunately this meant I had to forgo the Couples Relay, a race I have been invovled with for probably 25 consecutive years. This was the first National Masters Road Championship to be held in the Golden State since the Heritage Oaks Bank 10K in 2007 and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to run in a race with other master runners (40 & over) relatively close to home. Plus it gave me an opportunity to meet up with a friend from college who I hadn't seen in several years and lives in the area, and see some of my running friends from other running clubs.
Brea is probably a city most of us have not heard of nor could place on a map. It is located in Orange County, a bit Northeast of Disneyland and by car about a 6 hour drive or by air a 1 hour flight from the Bay Area. Thanks to the efforts of the Pacific Association's Tom Bernhard, he along with several others successfully lobbied the organizers of the Brea 8K to host the 2014 national master's championship road race for this distance.
The Brea 8K is a long standing race in Southern California and several thousand runners annually compete in it. One of the things that I think draws local runners to this race is the post-race food court where over 15 vendors have the runners enjoy samples of their cuisine. In addition, race proceeds benefit the Brea Olinda High School which creates a lot of local interest.
Quite a few other runners from Northern California also took advantage of this opportunity, as there was both team scoring and individual competition involved.
Runners from throughout the U.S. competed in the race and one can hardly blame those from the frozen tundra of the Midwest and East wanting to enjoy a long weekend in sunny California with temperatures in the 70's. It made for a competitive field across the board and with a very strong group of men in my age category 65-69, many of whom I knew. I was hoping for a top ten finish, given the caliber of the runners in the age group.
Conditions at the start of the race were near perfect, temperatures in the low 50's, no wind, clear and sunny. There were 3 water stops along the route, everything was well marked and coned, and the mile splits were very visible with volunteers calling out the mile splits and the 5K juncture. The scenery was a mix of suburban retail businesses and residential neighborhoods. It was pleasant but not distracting and there seemed to be spectators along the entire route of the race. As I expected, the first mile was the fastest for me, 6:25 and I settled into my racing pace covering two miles in around 13 minutes.
To this point, the course had been relatively flat with just one small hill. However between miles 2 & 3 there was a more significant and longer hill which caused my pace to slow and add a bit to my fatigue. Still, at 5K my split was 21 minutes and I was slightly ahead of my forecasted pace. Fortunately, miles 3 to 4 had a downhill section and just a little hill or two also as I was trying to close the gap on the runners just ahead of me. The last mile is basically a long, flat straightaway, with spectators on the sidewalk cheering.
I tried to rally a bit, and although I closed the gap a bit on those in front of me, still fell a few seconds short of them, finishing in 33:01 for 8K (almost 5 miles) which was good for 7th place in the age group. I was pleased with the time, about 20 seconds faster than I had projected and on a age graded basis it was 86.7%, which is very solid.
I would highly recommend the race and hopefully it will be on the national schedule of master races in 2015.