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Give ‘Em The Bird 5K: Race Recap

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On Wednesday afternoon we packed up The Running Griffin race wagon and made our way out to Western Massachusetts for a few days of relaxation, Thanksgiving fun and family time with my family in Holyoke.

Always looking for a solid reason to have that extra scoop of stuffing or squash at Thanksgiving dinner, we looked for a road race prior to making our trip and came across the Give ‘Em The Bird 5K in neighboring Easthampton, Massachusetts. An added nuance to the race not outlined on the website was the one thing no race director can plan for: the weather. Temperatures were slated to be in the low single digits without the wind chill Thanksgiving morning and with the crisp Pioneer Valley winds always kicking up, this was going to be one chilly run!

The night before the race, runners could pick up their bib numbers and tee-shirt at Abandoned Building Brewery. This also allowed runners to not have to get to the race too early and stand around in the cold, harsh chilly airs while also giving runners a good excuse to either have a pint or take a couple cans of Abandoned Building’s delicious craft beers home with them.

The race was limited to 500 runners and the field was completely filled with pre-registrations so the race did a nice job attracting runners in advance of the race. Because of the weather, a good amount of runners did not toe the starting line but for us hearty running folk, the starting line was on a bike trail.

As the running horn sounded, runners made their way on the Manhan Rail Trail for about the first 3/4 miles which rolled ever so gently uphill. There was a little bridge runners ran across and immediately before exiting the bike path a turkey dancing with a butcher knife showed you the way to turn. The next stretch of the race took runners through a residential neighborhood and along some farm land and winding water before heading uphill on what was toughest, hilly section of the course featuring a rather sharp incline around the 1.6 mile mark. Runners then made a right hand turn back onto the bike trail an finished the rest of the race on the bike trail heading into the finish line area where some fans, who had to have been cold, cheered runners into the finish.

The course for the Give ‘Em The Bird 5K was a really nicely laid out course and would be a great 5K course any time of year but for a cold Thanksgiving morning run seemed to work even better. It was cold out there but the course moved along nicely and was a scenic run with a good Western Mass feel to it complete with being surrounded by the Mt. Tom range and all.

Despite the cold, I ran pretty well and finished the race with a time of 25:17, good for 8:07/mile. Whether scientifically valid or not, that’s good enough for me and I grabbed that extra scoop of stuffing later in the day!

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