The 2015 Point Ruston Independence Day 5K took place on (surprise!) July 4, 2015, in Tacoma and Ruston, Washington.
I decided at the last minute to sign up for it because my running partner in crime, Aimee, prodded me to do it. I also thought it would be a great way to participate in Nuun’s first virtual race, Run Ride Rehydrate, which I was able to participate in as a member of Team Nuun.
The Point Ruston Independence Day 5K was marketed as being screamin’ fast, which is apparently why there were so many competitive runners in attendance. You know, the ones who wear racing flats, are sponsored, and belong to some sort of legit running club.
The race started adjacent to Vassault Park in Tacoma, which is also the start of my hometown’s most storied race, the Sound to Narrows. As is typical of smaller races, there were no start corrals, so semi-pros toed the line with kids.
Oddly, the race started without the customary singing of the National Anthem. I know I wasn’t the only one who noticed. It was particularly odd, considering the holiday.
We started off and ran downhill for the first mile towards Point Defiance Park for an elevation loss of about 170 feet. Not surprisingly, that mile flew by–even for little ol’ recovering me. Mile 2 was primarily downhill but leveled off about halfway through as we ran through the small town of Ruston, before climbing the only “hill” in the race. (with only 20 feet elevation gain, that hill was really a molehill.
Mile 3 ran down another hill towards the Ruston Way waterfront (losing about 100 feet of elevation) and back into Tacoma’s city limits. About halfway into that last mile, the course leveled off again before we had to take a sharp left turn and ran on a paved path towards the finish line, which sat in front of the new Point Ruston development.
Even though the weather was warm (at start-time, it was in the low 70s), I didn’t take any water on the course. The race was only a 5K and, even though I wasn’t aiming to PR, I did still care about my time. I knew that skipping a water station wasn’t going to kill me.
I ended up running a 23:08, which was pretty good for me but not good enough to earn me an age group award (this was, after all, a very fast course). Still, I was pretty happy to have been able to run an average 7:27 pace after my gimpy May and June. Even better, I never felt totally shitty during this race… and I usually feel shitty during 5Ks. I must be making progress.
I think this may be a new Fourth of July tradition!
The Point Ruston Independence Day 5K is a point-to-point course that is basically one long downhill. The only significant flat part of the course is the last .4. Translation: This is a FAST course. Also, we didn’t have to share a lane with vehicles, which I appreciated for a small-time race, and the finish line next to Commencement Bay couldn’t have been prettier.
Pros: This race offers easy and flexible packet pick-up, either the day before the race at the Fleet Feet in Tacoma or the morning of the event at the start. Parking was free and ample at the start. The shuttle from the finish area back to the start was inefficient. Cons: We waited for about 20 minutes between shuttles, even though the shuttle buses had only about 1.5 miles to travel each way. Porta potties appeared to be in short supply, as there was still a sizable line for them when the race began.
Swag included a technical tee (if you registered in time, which I did not) with a fairly uninspired design typical of TCMA events, as well as the TCMA’s standard grab bag of random samples (Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, chia seeds, etc.). I can’t neglect to mention that the bag also included a coupon for a discounted massage by my buddy and favorite LMT, Heidi at BeHive. Yay!
The Point Ruston Independence Day 5K is a very small (fewer than 500 finishers), very fast race designed for personal bests. There’s definitely room for improvement (shuttle buses, porta potties), but this race will likely establish itself as one of Tacoma’s holiday traditions.