Great Pumpkin Challenge 10K race recap

I had intended to run this race before.  I signed up for the 5K in 2009 and it was pouring so I left.  Then I signed up for the 10K in 2011 and I got ill and couldn’t run it.

Third time’s a charm, I guess.

I know that they changed the 5k course so that it was flatter.  The 10k course continues from the 5k and there are several hills.  I am used to that after last week’s race.

The race takes place in Saratoga State Park which is a beautiful place to run especially in the fall.

Lately we have been blessed with some beautiful weather…unseasonably warm. I wish it had stayed that way.  I love Indian Summer.

Today it cooled down and again rain was forecasted.  Not knowing what the weather will do makes it hard to dress.  I dressed similarly to last week but with the longer distance and higher humidity, I worried that I would be too warm.

It rained during the night but it had stopped by the morning and just drizzled on my drive up. (Fingers crossed that it would stay that way.)

I left for the race early in case I had to park where I needed to get a shuttle to the start. The race was to start at 9:30 and I got there at 8:30 am. I was lucky to get a spot right next to the finish line.

This is a popular race. They were hoping for 2000 runners. (I think they were about 1500.) Quite a few folks from the Turkey Trot  Training Group were planning to run it but I didn’t know if I would see them.

I hung out for a while in the pavilion.  There were real bathrooms and a fireplace.


I bumped into one of my former French students and her daughter.  She graduated in 1986 and is a doctor. We chatted and reminisced.

Then I saw two ladies (Helen & Sue) from the Turkey Trot running group.  It was nice to see a familiar face. We hung out until the start of the race.

It was chilly but I decided to leave my jacket (and race shirt & phone) at the bag check.  It was still dry outside but it didn’t look like it would stay that way.

I lost Sue and Helen so just pushed my way into the crowd.

photo from a previous year

Finally the race started.  I think it took me at least 20 seconds to get to the start line.  It was so crowded and even then I had to weave ar0und the walkers and slower runners.

This was the 5K course:

a quick right onto the North-South road and past the entrances to Columbia and Ferndell pavilions. .. north past the toll building and a left onto the Roosevelt Bath Drive for several hundred feet and then a right onto the stone path entering the mall area. ..pass the Administrative building (on right) with the reflecting pools (center), continuing to the far end and  a left following the path parallel to the Avenue of the Pines. Next a left on the path heading back down the mall continuing on the stone path and right onto the road in front of the Hall of Springs. …following this road passing the SPAC entrance and entering the parking lot behind the Automobile Museum running to the end of this lot. .. then bear left onto paved path that will bring them around a pond and taking another left …then take a right onto the stone path that runs behind the SPAC amphitheater bringing them out to face the Box Office … bear right and then left into the parking lot running straight down the parking lot about ½ way and a right heading towards the perimeter stone road. … then left onto the perimeter stone road that runs along edge of the lot with another left at the south end of the lot and finally a left to head back toward SPAC along the opposite side of the parking lot. … right to re-enter SPAC at the sundial and go through the gates, across the bridge and run through the grounds bearing right leaving the SPAC grounds and entering the parking lot near the Roosevelt Baths… continue through the Roosevelt lot and continuing on to Roosevelt Drive. …right onto the North-South Road and back toward Columbia Pavilion.

It was nice and flat and running on the dirt & gravel helped me slow down my pace.  I even stopped at the water stop.

My 5K time was faster than it should have been but this gave me cushion to take it slow the second half.

As soon as we started the 10K course, the skies opened up.  I mean it started pouring!!!

And the course was HILLY:

continue on the North-South Road and a left on to East-West Road heading east past the toll building to the turnaround (where large park map is located- near the entrance to Route 9.) From the turnaround, continue in the opposite direction going west on East-West road past the Peerless Pool and Carlsbad Pavilion…. a right at the top of the hill heading down and will continue on the road until it meets up again with the East-West road. (on this back loop will pass to the left Coesa and Orenda pavilion and down the hill the Geyser Pavilion will be on the right)….then a left on to East-West road…. up the hill and another left on to North South Road and finish the at the Columbia Pavilion.

The hills were LONG and there were many of them.  They just kept coming.  And the rain was a cold soaking rain. I stopped at the 2nd water stop and WALKED up every hill. I was happy that the first half allowed me to not feel guilty about all the walking.

When I looked down at my Garmin, I was surprised that I was still running under a 10 min/mile pace.  Maybe I could even PR!

After one more walk near the end, I gunned it through the finish and crossed at 58:46 which was 58:28 chip time.

That was more than 2 minutes faster than my PR on a flat course and 6 minutes faster than my last hilly 10K. WooHoo!!!

I saw Sue near the finish line and we waited for Helen to cross.

We were wet and happy – all of us had PRs today!!

Anxious to get warm, we headed for the pavilion.  I waited in line and had a bagel, some banana bread and some hot chocolate. Then I changed out of my wet shirt. (I was freezing at this point.)


this is this year’s shirt…for the race I was wearing a black one from 2010

Sue & Helen left and I hung around for a while by the fire.  They gave out beer glasses for the age group winners.  I was 4th.  I guess I can’t win an award at every race. (I would have if I ran the 5K but I’m glad I took on the challenge.)


those older women are fast!


mile 1 – 9:37
mile 2 – 9:43
mile 3 – 9:14
mile 4 – 9:16
mile 5 – 10:07
mile 6  – 9:44
.2  – 8:29

These splits are surprising — I really felt like I running faster the first half and slower the second.


only a minute slower the 2nd half and I walked A LOT!!!


  • Run most it. YES. Except for those darn hills!
  • Pace under 10 min/mile for most miles. YES. All but mile 5.
  • Beat my last 10K time (1:04:54). A PR would be a real stretch. A age group award would be a bigger stretch (the speedy older women do this one). YES. Beat my last 10k time and got a PR!!!
  • Finish strong and uninjured. YES.
  • Enjoy the race. YES. Would have enjoyed it more with some sunshine.

I am satisfied with how I did at this race.  Just think if I could only conquer the hills.

As I was leaving, it started to rain lightly.  I was thinking about running more in the park if the weather was nicer.  I drove home and it rained the whole way but stopped as I neared my house.

I decided to stop and run some more.  That 10 mile race is only ONE WEEK away!

So I parked my car where I normally do and ran down the street for a mile, turned and ran .4 and then ran back to my car.  It was at a very SLOOOW pace.  I even stopped at 2 garage sales.


With running done for the day… it was on to grocery shopping, laundry and baking apple pies

Happy Running! Are you running or racing this weekend? If so, how did it go?


4 thoughts on “Great Pumpkin Challenge 10K race recap

  1. I kind of get tired telling you what a great job you did. 😉

    I think I was out walking the dogs at that time; yes, we got rained on.

    My knees are taped already, my husband’s gonna help tape my back, pancakes have been consumed . . . next week I’ll be thinking of you during my race!


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