Saturday, July 23, 2016

Montgomery County - Peachy Feeet 5k - July 15, 2016

Chad also beat me to Montgomery County way back when, but I got peach ice cream when I went!  North Carolina food festivals have been good to us in the countdown, including the Blueberry Festival 5k, the Strawberry Festival 5k, the Peanut Run 5k, and the Watermelon Festival 5k, to name a few that we attended (plus some others that we missed out on).  The 20th annual North Carolina Peach Festival in Candor, North Carolina in Montgomery County also has the 6th annual Peachy Feet 5k, and that's where Kathy and the baby and I ended up a few Friday evenings ago (it's only a short drive from home).

We had never attended the Peach Festival before, but it's definitely worth returning.  When we arrived (cutting the schedule close), there was music and dancing, vendors with all kinds of food and crafts, and lots of folks out in lawn chairs enjoying the evening and the atmosphere.  We hurried through race check-in as the national anthem was sung, and then the race was off!  We were definitely safe in the back of the pack as we hurried into the starting chute, but the race volunteers didn't seem to mind, as the race is very friendly to slow runners, walkers, and even strollers.

As you might guess from the topography in the area, it was a very flat race and led to some fast times among the 200+ finishers.  The course was roughly figure-eight shaped, with a shared road in the middle but with loops on the ends big enough that the leaders and trailers didn't really share the road at the same time.  There were lots of friendly volunteers on the course, who both encouraged all the participants and did some excellent traffic control, managing to keep things freely moving even for those of us who got onto the course late.  There were also some dark clouds rolling in at the start of the race, and as the first few sprinkles turned into a downpour, the volunteers also made sure we stayed positive and didn't decide to drop out because of the weather.  (Even if we had wanted to drop, there was really nowhere to go but continue along the course.)  The route was through a residential area, and it was very clear the folks living along the route knew the race was coming, and many of them were out in their yards or on their spacious porches to see the runners go by and cheer them on.  Some of the homes were quite impressive and looked like they had a lot of history in them, plus the oversize wraparound porches gave them plenty of shelter as they watched the poor, wet souls running by.  The last stretch of the race was along the main drag of Candor, and then we wrapped around behind the festival, so that we finished going through the same arch in the same direction that we had started.

Of course, just as I finally finished, the skies really opened up, and what had been a regular ol' rain became a frog-choking monsoon.  The spectators had already scattered to the tents and shelters where the food and music were, but a very hardy cheer team and some waterlogged volunteers kept the finish line area active with cheers and water and post-race food and drink, including some wonderful homemade peach ice cream!  Talking with some of the other runners after the race, including Mark Long from the Mangum Track Club, this was a 180-degree turn from last year's conditions, which were painfully hot.  So next year maybe they'll split the difference?

Unfortunately, with our late arrival and being drenched after the finish, we didn't take a lot of pictures, but fortunately the race organizers shared a nice album with us on Facebook.  And the race organizers created some very nice, very colorful race shirts for all the participants.  In spite of everything this year, I really would like to come back and take part in this race again, to experience more of the Friday evening festival activities, enjoy that flat race course again, and get plenty more helpings of the peach ice cream!  Can't wait to come back to Montgomery County!

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