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Sep 10, 2012

St. Mary Mercy Hospital 5k for Cancer review

5 miles on the schedule today.  Done but a bit slower than my race yesterday.  Here's the full race review below:


Short Version:

Finished in 22:41(chip time)
Overall Place:  47/ 719
AG(M40-44):  2/23
Missed my PR by 23 seconds.

Nice and flat course.  Great weather in the mid 50's.  Overall, a well organized race for a great cause.


Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration was very easy for me since I was asked to do a review of this 5k race.  I filled in the paper form and mailed it to the race organizers.  Had I just been registering for the race, I could have done the same thing or I could have gone to and registered online.  Very simple.  In addition, the organizers had a race website(HERE) that you could go and learn all the pertinent information you needed to determine if you wanted to race and what all the details were for the race.  In addition to their race website, they also had information listed on RunMichigan.  The website was well laid out and you could easily review all the FAQ's, view the course, see the parking situation, sign up to be a volunteer, learn how to train for a 5k and see last years pictures and results.  I have to admit when I decided to agree to review the race, I checked out what the competition was like hoping that I could place in my age group but I still would have done the review regardless.

The race had the opportunity to allow runners to pick up their packet at St. Mary Mercy hospital the day before the race or you could come the day of the race to pick up your packet.  I thought it was great for a 5k to have both options and made for a much easier morning.  In addition, if you did not pre-register for the race, you could have registered the day of the race.

I got there about 7:30am and people were already starting to get there.  Packet pick up was from 7:00am to 8:30am.  There was a map, on their website, that showed the start line, the parking area and the finish line.(see below)
This was on their website - very nice!
It was very helpful to have this and given that I'm not from the immediate area(about 1 hour away), I was able to easily find it.  In addition, the race had a sign out by the parking lot so you would not miss it.  The registration tent AND the start line were right next to the parking lot.  Oh, how I love races where I don't have to walk far before/after a race.

The volunteers were very nice and helpful.  When I pulled my car in, one of the volunteers said "glad you could make and good luck today!"  Now that's the kind of hospitality that we need to see at every race.  It was a good start to the day.
This was taken near my car(oh so close!)
Registration/packet pick up
Note:  Restrooms inside!!!(it's the little things)
Start area with DJ; the red flags were nice because you could not miss them
I picked up my packet that had some goodies in it including some hand sanitizer and sun tan lotion.  There were also some coupons from some of the sponsors.  They had pins already put together in the bag along with your shirt and your race number.  Here's the number I received:
My lucky number!
I knew when I saw this I was going to have a great race.  As most of you know, I'm in the process of training for my fourth(4) marathon(26).  It was a sign!  I took my stuff back to my car and got my number on.  Then I took advantage of the INTERIOR bathrooms in the hospital just before the race got started.  It was a perfect day for running - mid 50's, sunny, no humidity.  We could not have asked for better weather.

Start Area
As I said, the start area had the two red flags to indicate the starting point.  About 15 minutes before the race, they started to ask people to get lined up.  
Start area
I have to say that they also asked people who were running slower than an 8 mile pace, to line up in the middle and asked slower runners and walker to be near the back.  It was a nice touch for those of us lucky enough to run faster than an 8 mile pace once in awhile.  I figured I'd be at least an 8 mile pace, so I tried to line up not at the front but not in the middle either.  Here's a couple pictures just before the race started:
Runner's that lined up ahead of me
Runner's lined up behind me
They sang the National Anthem, did a couple announcements from MC, Lila Lazarus, channel 4 Anchor/Health Reporter and they sounded the bell to start.

USATF Certification
The course was flat and fast.  It was also USATF certified, which I was surprised, as many 5k races do not have that certification.  I knew then the race would be at least 3.10 miles.  I'm glad too because it's one of my biggest pet peeves when races are not at least the distance they advertise.  According to my Garmin, the course was 3.15 miles - perfect!  The volunteers were great on the course as well.  The race had volunteers at every turn so nobody got lost.  The volunteers were also clapping and cheering on runners.  It was not a huge crowd support but I was not expecting any given the 5k distance.  The course also had police support in a couple areas as well to keep the runners safe.
98 ft elevation gain - can't get much flatter than that!
Fast course
Aid Stations
There was one aid station for the whole course which was really well positioned.  It was at about the one mile mark.  This worked great since there was a loop we ran around and then passed by the same aid station.  Great planning on the organizers part to allow for less volunteers at the race but still give water to the runners when needed.

Finish Area
The end of the race finished across the street from the hospital and parking area.  As you came around the last corner, you could hear a huge crowd screaming.  The race had you come into a parking lot and through a finish shoot.  The large crowd was a cheer team that stood on both sides of you as you got to the finish.  It was a really nice touch - I've not been to a race that had cheerleaders at the end.  I stayed until everyone finished the race and the cheerleaders made everyone feel special no matter your place.  Take a look:
Lot's of loud girls = great finish!
A fantastic idea to have a cheer team at the finish!
After you finished the race, there were volunteers handing you a bottle of water.  As you made your way through the shoot, about 50 feet was the finish line food.  They had cookies, granola bars, bananas, orange slices(my favorite after a race), apples and bagels.  A good variety for a 5k race.

Lots of food!
The race also had a DJ at the finish, a sign where there was results posted and a mini expo as well:
Expo area
Massage tables - at a 5k? - WOW!
DJ area/expo
Results board(women was on the other side)
You received a long sleeve t-shirt, a bib with timing tag, the organization of the race, and finish line food.  If you were fast enough, they also had awards for top three male and female overall and top three in each age group(5 yr category)
Long sleeve shirt
Age Group award
I was lucky enough to receive one today!
First place was over 2 minutes faster than me(20:26)
I always feel that a race can go one way or another depending on the organization that they have.  Overall, the race was very organized.  Registration was easy, packet pickup was simple, the course was well marked with volunteers, the finish line was outstanding, the food at the finish was well organized and plenty of it, bathrooms were available at the start and finish.  The only issue I noticed is the start time.  The race start was 9am but they got off a little late at 9:05am.  Not a big issue at all but I do like to see when the races start exactly on time.

A great race overall!
Overall, I would certainly run this race again.  It has the qualities and organization to be a race that will continue to grow year after year.  As a bonus, it's a race to raise money for Cancer so what better way to have a great day at a race and help a charity as well.  I saw lots of runners with names on their back for people that they were running for which makes the race extra special in my opinion.

I'd like to thank the organizers for asking me to review the race for them.  If your schedule fits it or you want to remember/run for someone that has or had Cancer, consider putting this onto your race schedule for next year for the 7th annual St. Mary Mercy Livonia Embrace Life 5k.  You'll be happy you did!

Note:  I received a complimentary race entry to the 5k in exchange for a complete review.  All opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. Congrats on the 2nd place finish!!

  2. Winner, winner chicken dinner.... LOL, an hour drive to run 22 minutes!

  3. Very nice run, well done! That's a great time as well! The course is certainly flat, but I think I sometimes prefer some up and some down.

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