Runners work very hard, week after week, month after month, and for many, year after year. Don't you think that once a year runners deserve a break, a chance to get away from the rigors of hill workouts, speed workouts, long runs, and difficult races? Once a year runners deserve a race like the sixth annual Hollis Fast 5K, which runs this year on June 10th in Hollis, New Hampshire.
The Hollis Fast 5K is a downhill, point-to-point road race that lives up to its name. The course starts near Monument Square in Hollis and, after a couple of quick right turns, runs down a country lane named Depot Road. This road borders farms, fields and pastures, is largely straight, and most importantly slopes downward. It is not steep enough for runners to feel out of control, so runners can go all out while running, what else, fast, fast, fast.
How fast is the Hollis Fast 5K? Just after the race last year an article in Running Times Magazine listed the ten fastest races at each distance. And when listing 5K's they highlighted three of the ten with descriptions/articles, including the Hollis Fast 5K, the Carlsbad 5000, and the Banana Chase 5K in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The 13:46 winning time at Hollis in 2007 by Nate Jenkins, the men's record on this USATF-certified course, would certainly validate this point.
The elevation drop from start to finish is 242 feet. According to USA Track and Field requirements that is too much of a drop for the race to qualify for any records or USATF national age group standards. But it qualifies with each person when they record that 5K PR.
Did I mention this is a fast course?
The current New Hampshire state 5K record is 13 minutes, 52 seconds. In 2007 the winning time at the Hollis Fast 5K was 13:46 (again, too fast to qualify for a record).
This isn't exactly a USATF-New England Mountain series event. It is the opposite--down.
Years ago a female runner who was an Olympian told the story of a fast downhill course. When she saw the clock at the two mile mark she said it was the fastest two miles of her life. Even though it didn't "count" she said it was still a blast. If an Olympian feels that way about a fast course how do you think you will feel?
With a race this fast it is not surprising that some of the top area runners have taken part. The original distance for this race was five miles (mostly flat); the race was switched to a 5K in 2005. Since then the list of winners includes Casey Moulton (2005 and 2006), Nate Jenkins (2007), Benjamin Ndaya (2008), and Ethan Crain (2009) on the men's side; and Kara Haas (2005 and 2008) and Tammie Robie (2009) on the women's side. Every man's winning time has been sub-15:00 and every woman's winning time has been sub-17:00.
This fast course attracts more than just the best runners. The Hollis-Nashua, N.H. area is a rich one for young runners and the Hollis Fast 5K reaches out to younger runners with numerous awards. The youngest age category is 9-and-under. From there the categories are in two year increments, up to the 18-19 division. Adults are also rewarded with five year age categories, starting at 20-24 and going to 75 and over. The Hollis Fast 5K gives out more awards than 99 percent of New England races and does so in style. Award winners stand on a podium and have their pictures taken.
The Hollis Fast 5K is also great for beginners and families. Running that first event is hard but beginners looking for a race that will give them a positive experience, and keep them motivated, will find it here. In fact, the famous Couch to 5K training program in Nashua www.gatecity.org will target this race for that first big thrill. It is also quite common to see parents and children finishing together, with smiles on their faces.
Operating a point-to-point 5K requires a lot of effort and for that the runners have the Hollis Rotary Club to thank. The race serves as a fundraiser for the Hollis Rotary Club and the club provides dozens of volunteers. From the pre-race registration area at the Alpine Grove Function Hall to the transportation to the start, and post-race party back at Alpine Grove. The Rotary volunteers are everywhere, making sure race day goes off without a hitch. Leading the way is the race director, Rotarian George LeCours, a long time member of both the club and the New Hampshire road race community.
The race is timed by Yankee Timing, using the latest technology, D-tag by Chronotrack, and free technical T-shirts go to the first 300 to sign up.
Want to take a break from all that really hard training, and run your best for 3.1 miles and turn in a PR? Do yourself a favor. Arrange your calendar to be in Hollis, New Hampshire on Thursday night, June 10th.
(For more information go to: http://www.coolrunning.com/major/10/hollisfast5k/