While the big events get all the press and attention, I decided it might be nice to check out one of the smaller races that flies under the radar. The 3rd Annual Achieva Reindeer Trot takes place not far from main street in Sarasota. The Reindeer Trot is actually three events in one. They have a 5k race, a 10k race and a holiday dog walk followed by a doggy costume contest.
Why did I pick this race? First of all, it's held at Payne Park. This beautiful little stretch of city property is decked out with meticulously groomed grass, a central jogging track, a playground and a skate park. I filmed part of a Strider Sports video here only a few months ago. Secondly, the race is sponsored by Achieva which is a credit union based in Southwest Florida. In the past I've bought two cars through Credit Unions. They are an excellent alternative to the traditional bank because the members/account holders are also part owners.
In addition to my personal reasons, small races possess a charm and warmth all their own. You get to meet people quickly and easily because there are so few of you. I spoke with fellow runners, race volunteers and even people who worked for Achieva. All of them took the event as a lighthearted Christmas get together to raise funds for a good cause.
All the money raised went to the Sarasota County Classrooms, with 14 grants handed out to individuals at the opening ceremonies. A local school band played for the crowd and was followed a live performance of the National Anthem. Shortly afterwards the runners gathered on the sidewalk lining School Avenue and found their mark. A volunteer got on the microphone to explain the start procedure but some younger kids thought she was starting the race so they took off. Most everyone got a chuckle out of the false start and regathered for the actual beginning.
The race course was the same for both 5K and 10K runners. The difference was that you completed 2 laps for 5k and four laps for 10k. A well colored map shows where the route takes you but that didn't stop me from getting a little confused in some places, including the finish line. My bad for not doing recon.
The pace for the first mile was fast, I started in fifth place but couldn't hold position. Slowly a hand full of competitors made their way past me but only a handful. I managed to keep the rest at bay finishing in 10th overall. The top spot went to a determined teenager who aced the course in 19 minutes. You can find his photo at the top of this story but his name and all of the results will be posted on their event page.
The event was chip timed by Elite Timing and Event Management and while they were easy to work with, they did fumble up some people's times. In the end all the issues were resolved and everyone got the right trophies and medals.
The event was a lot of fun. Many people wore reindeer antlers, some came in full costumes including this guy with a red suit and white beard who sat next to a Christmas tree and accepted wishes from all the kids. Not sure what that was all about. Anyway, the Reindeer Trot is an excellent alternative to the big, crowded races that happen elsewhere in town on the same day. The terrain is pleasing to the eye and varied enough to be challenging. The competition is a little lighter giving you a good chance to land on the podium even if your not the fastest runner. It worked for me.
Make sure to check out our photo gallery of the event and check the Achieva website for more photos and a full list of results.