The second annual, and first in-person, Medfield 10k was held Sunday June 13th. I ran the race and, despite the unseasonably warm temperatures had a great time on a new and challenging course. I’ll be back next year to try to improve on my wilting, second half fade.
Here are 10 things I liked about this new, local Metrowest 10k road race.
1. The Time of Day
The race started at 10 a.m. This was a welcome change from many weekend races that go off at 8 or 9 (or, shiver, earlier) a.m. I need time for the coffee to wake me up! Admittedly, the later start this year didn’t actually help. It was very warm for early June (over 80 degrees) but at least I got a full night’s sleep.
2. The 10k Distance
You can’t go outside on any weekend and not trip over a 5k charity race. But try to find something else? Good luck. Between a 5k and a marathon, the race calendar is often very empty. If you’re looking for a 10k it’s often packaged as part of a larger running festival event or weekend. Or you need to travel to a larger city.
Just like another of my favorite suburban races, the Old Fashioned 10 Miler, we need more races that stretch beyond 5k but also don’t require 5 or 6 hours to run. I was quite happy to find a 10k almost right outside more door.
3. Easy Parking and Number Pick Up
Race directors, please take note. One advantage of holding a race away from cities should be the easy availability of parking. There is nothing worse than pulling into a race destination and finding that you have to park a half mile away or more.
No such problems here with a large parking lot to accommodate all runners and cheering families, along with easy access to race day number pickup.
4. Not a Lot of Traffic
While the majority of the course (other than the start and finish line sections), was not closed, there was very little traffic over the course of the route and this allowed runners to concentrate on running and not dodging impatient cars.
5. Volunteers / Community Engagement
Maybe this is a gimme as I’ve not come across many race volunteers that were not enthusiastic or helpful but I don’t want to take these things for granted. From number pickup to the finish chute, everyone involved was smiling and encouraging.
A large portion of the second half of the race was through neighborhood streets, and while this was the first time it had been run, the course still had good audience participation. This really helped me near the end where the heat had almost sapped my ability to lift my legs.
6. Small Town Experience
The middle of the course ran through the Medfield State Hospital a historic former psychiatric hospital complex that’s been used in numerous Hollywood movies. That’s a great way for a smaller, local race to highlight the town and its unique features.
7. Challenging Course
This is not an out and back, net downhill designed to lure in the most runners possible. It’s also not an intimidating Mt. Washington-style uphill hellscape. I would categorize this as a fair but challenging course. To do well, you need to do some training. Newcomers can finish, I don’t’ want to scare anyone, but you will work at it.
While it starts off with a gentle downhill at the start, the middle is a set of rolling hills, that at least on this occasion (I continue to blame the warm weather!) took a toll on my legs. I found no joy in mile 5! It does reward resilience and give you a boost of confidence with a fast downhill(ish) section to the finish line.
8. Run Club Roots
You can always tell when a running club or the race director is an avid runner. It’s mostly small things but a race run by runners usually things of the small details that can boost an ordinary race to a something just a little bit more. It’s those little details that will keep you coming back.
9. Early Season Motivation
The running calendar, at least in the Northeast, is chock full of races from July through September, but not quite as much in the earlier months of the year. I appreciated this early June race as a way to shake off the rust and test my fitness after a long winter hiatus mostly training indoors.
10. Simple Online Sign-up with Clear Communication
It may seem obvious but many races can sometimes make it difficult to find register and find up-to-date information on the race. Much of this is sometimes the fault of the provider they picked, but there are things race organizers can do to pick up the slack. I appreciated the easy mobile-friendly, race registration, the follow-up emails, and the race website and social media feeds. I never felt like I didn’t know what was going on.
This was the first time the race had been run in-person and there are still some hiccups to work out but I look forward to returning to this nearby 10k race for many years in the future.
[Note: While I didn’t help organize or plan the race, I am a member of the Soles Running Club.]