Yesterday I ran the Denver Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure. This was the…….??? Ya know, I’m not sure how many times we’ve run it! We, as in my Mom and I, think we started doing this event in 1999, which would put it at 15 years in a row! That may not be entirely accurate, but close enough. I have done it every year and there was only one year that my mom had to miss out due to prior engagements.
If any of you have read my “About Me” you’ll know that it’s because of this race that I really started running.
Correct me if I’m wrong, Mom, but I believe we started running the event back then to support a family friend who had survived breast cancer. I was in either 7th or 8th grade and we first ran the race when it used to be held at the Denver Civic Center park.
Back then, it was “small” race. We would challenge ourselves to run to every other street and take walking breaks in between. I remember that not many people were there and the expo area was super small. It was like a traditional neighborhood race where they had boxes of bananas and bagels that people could grab after they finished.
Now, it’s held at the Pepsi Center and there is thousands of people and I have taken to running the whole thing. I don’t remember what the race was like when we first starting running it, but as it became larger and larger, it has become a run/walk, not timed and just mass amounts of people.
As the years went on, we had more reasons to run the Race for the Cure. One being my Grandma who survived breast cancer a few years ago. Now, not only is it a tradition for my Mom and I, but it’s also a run in celebration of her.
As the race has grown, the race has changed as well. Last year they decided to add a “competitive race” before the joggers/walkers so that people who wanted to could actually run…and run fast! We didn’t know that was an option last year, and were kinda mad when they wouldn’t let us go up to the start line yet.
This year, the same competitive race was still an option but they decided to change the course. And not only that, a lot of other things changed: the sponsors, the expo, as well as the organization.
This Year’s Race:
Because this event is so big in the Denver area, they offer a large-scale RTD and car pool system. My Mom and I always do transportation this way and met at Arvada High at 6:30am to take the bus to the race start in Denver. Knowing the course was different but not sure what to expect, we exited the bus and took a look around. It was actually very confusing. There wasn’t much signage and nothing was in the same spot. Usually there are loud speakers and constant announcements. I didn’t hear any of that. Also, the same parking lots were blocked off, but they just set up everything backwards.
We finally fingered out where everything was but still had trouble figuring out where the actual start was. There was one “start line” sign near registration, but that is not where the official race was. Maybe that was for the newly added 1-mile fun run/walk, I’m not sure.
We followed the crowd to the street and up the off-ramp from the highway. Now, it was 7:45am, the time the “Competitive Race” was set to start. We looked up ahead and saw people running/walking and realized they started. We registered for the 8am regular run/walk. This is what we have always done and we usually nudge ourselves close to the start line so that I can run and not have to dodge that many people and my mom runs/walks at her pace as well.
This year, as we got in line, we just kept walking. We thought they would separate and blockade off the noncompetitive people and then have a huge count-down and start our race like they always do. But people just kept walking. It was really strange. It says all over the website and brochures that the run starts at 8am. The line kept moving so we guessed that we would just go ahead and start. Everyone around had the noncompetitive bibs on as well. We passed under the start line and just kept walking! It was so frustrating and felt so unorganized. There was so many people we couldn’t run. Frustrating for me as an avid runner and for my mom as well because likes to run it too! There was just nowhere to go!
Since I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I decided to stick with my mom this year and run with her for the first time in many years. We dodged people left and right and tried to actually speed up, but it wasn’t working that well. Finally after about a mile the crowded thinned enough so that we could actually continued to run in a straight line. We ran off and on toward the finish line!
When we finally completed the race, we headed towards the expo area. As the race has gown over the years, so has the expo area! It’s quite the spectacle and it gets quite hectic. Every year the same sponsors, more or less, have been there. In the past, Sports Authority was a regular (always giving out bags to collect your goodies), the Shane Company (always has hats or visors), Allstate (always a wheel to spin for awesome prizes like a backpack and pink fuzzy gloves), Ford (giving out collectible scarfs – I have a dozen or so from all the years), Safeway (with DELICIOUS steak and string cheese), Yoplait (with bins to collect the pink lids), and a dozen or so other booths giving out the normal: Snacks, chapsticks, pens, coupons, cowbells, etc, etc.
I have actually collected a fair about of food and goodies from past Race for the Cure events. This year however, Ford, Yoplait, Safeway and Sports Authority were nowhere to be found! It was actually quite shocking and left we wondering what happened. (I speculate at the idea that Susan G. Komen foundation losing sponsors. There has been a lot of controversies with the foundation over the years and I have no idea what has happened with their sponsors). Even with those sponsors gone, there was still a ton of booths to collect goodies from. My favorites this years were the Honey Smoked Fish Co (handing out decent sized portions of their 5 Super Food Salad), the Allstate booth (I spun the wheel and won a sweet pink backpack purse thing and a pair of pink fo-Ray Ban sunglasses), and all the food (Duh, I’m super food driven. Tell me there’s free food and I’ll be there)! But I definitely missed the steak, string cheese and yogurt!
With the race course and whole expo area being set up different, that left all these booths to squeeze in a smaller space than before. Which also meant all of the racers squeezing in the same space! HOLY CROWDED, BATMAN! My mom and I always get the race done relatively fast, which means we get to wandered the expo before most. But just because of that fact doesn’t mean we aren’t waiting in a lot of lines and getting lost in the crowds! The line for the Honey Smoke Fish was like 20 min (Sooooo worth it) and only got longer. By the time we were almost ready to leave, I was thinking about revisiting a shoe-lace donation booth where they would give you new pink shoelaces if you donated yours and for every pair of shoelaces donated, they donated a dollar to the a breast cancer research fund. Unfortunately the booth was in the center, the most crowded area, and I got a few people deep and bailed. MISSION ABORTED!
After that craziness, I was little overwhelmed, and wanted to head home. We caught our bus back to the school and the followed up with a trip to IHOP…..mmmmmm…..pancakes….. I love me some pancakes! OH, and these were pumpkin pancakes!
Overall: I love the tradition of running this race with my Mom, especially in celebration of my Grandma. This year, however, was way less organized than it has been for a really long time. I have no idea why! What I don’t like is that it seems to have become a social gathering and not necessarily for the right reasons and it gets so overwhelmingly crowded. I’m a little iffy on the Susan G. Komen foundation (I wont get into it, but there has been some controversial things with where the money comes from and goes to as well as some lawsuits from the foundation regarding the use of the pink ribbon symbol. Do your own research; make your own opinions).
Above all, the race and the foundation have the right idea and their hearts are in the right place, as well as all the racers’, volunteers’ and workers’.
Your Turn: I’m actually curious if other people have done the Race for the Cure, whether in Denver or another City, and what you think of it all! Let me know in the comments!