Harpoon Octoberfest Race Recap

On Sunday I made the drive down to Windsor, Vermont for the Harpoon Octoberfest Race (3.6 miles) at the Harpoon Brewery. I’d been wanting to go there for a long time, and I figured this was my perfect opportunity since I had a long weekend from school. I signed up just a week beforehand and was really excited to test out my race strategy/outfit before the Baltimore Half Marathon.

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My friend Sam and I pulled off the interstate at 10ish and immediately ran into some traffic getting into the brewery. Thankfully we were parked by 10:20 and by 10:35 I had my bib, beer wristband, and beer tickets. There were so many people in festive outfits which totally made me in the mood for this Octoberfest run. I loved being in my element and getting to share it with a friend from school. After a quick stretch I placed myself about 3/4 of the way back in the start corral and waited for the gun my garmin to fail to connect to the satellites.

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SO HAPPY to be at brewery #20 (#13 in Vermont).

I was so socked in for the first mile to mile and a half. There were over 1,100 racers and I was right in the middle of all of them. The worst was about .25 miles in, as we went through a steep, narrow uphill out of the brewery. Thankfully I was able to run to the side so I wasn’t stuck walking behind everyone before my walk interval began! I hated only having my watch read the time. I reached the 1 mile marker in 10:33. Much slower than I wanted, but it could have been worse for all the weaving and slowing down I had to do. There were also three good hills in the first mile.

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Mile 2 was really good, as there were two good downhills in the section. I finally started feeling good and had more room. My running pace was faster and I hit the 2 mile marker (next to a german band) with a 9:22 mile 2. Then came an awful uphill that I was so happy to make it up running but died at the top. Then another hill. It was brutal. My third mile was 10:40 and I was mad! 

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Finally I could hear the music from the brewery and I stepped it up. I knew I wanted to finish the 3.6 mile race in under 36:00. I gave it all I had and before I knew it, I was at a steep downhill going back down into the brewery. I started passing everyone in front of me and finished with my watch reading 35:40. Yeah, I was a little happy to run the last .6 miles at an 8:30 pace for an average pace of 9:45 and 637th place.

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My favorite part of this race? The beer mug! We were given it filled with water (perfect), and got to fill it with beer during the Octoberfest festival that followed. It’s my new favorite cup. But honestly, I finished this race loving everything. I was on a runner’s high through Monday night. Plus, after I was done running Sam and I had a great time having a few beers, listening to the “oompah music” and people/dog watching.

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Race Strategy: 

While my garmin never connected to the satellites I still ran with it to keep to my 4:1 run:walk intervals. Sure, I probably could have done this race straight out, but my main goal for this race was to get a feel for what this weekend’s half marathon will be like. I plan on doing intervals, as that’s how I’ve been training to come back from my leg injury. I wanted to know what it felt like to do the intervals during a race. To be honest it completely sucked at first. It sucks to be passed, especially while walking just 4 minutes into the race. But it was also very nice to pass people, as the walking made me able to push the pace in my running segments. I was also happy to run all the hills, as I’ll be facing quite a few in Baltimore.

Race Details:  11 am start (LOVE). $40 reg, which came with two beer tickets, a food ticket, and the souvenir glass. T-shirts were available for $25. Instant results were available for the field of 1,136 (big for Vermont!). Octoberfest followed where you could drink and eat all day! There were fun bands and activities like “keg bowling”. We didn’t stay too long but I loved what we saw. Top runners won nice steins/glasses and cases of Harpoon beer. Free race pictures are available as well. I can’t wait to see mine when they are finally available!

While I plan to be in Maryland this time next year, I would totally travel back to Vermont for this race. The course was challenging but manageable, everyone was having a great time, and the Octoberfest festival was a blast. I wish we could have stayed longer but there’s no way I could have stayed then driven home :P. This race definitely made me feel confident about where I’m at. I can’t believe I’ll be running half marathon #6 is just 3 days away!

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